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10/01/22 Holly-Jo Mork

Copy in UX: The Ultimate Guide to C2As

Without UX copywriting, all of your favourite websites would appear almost like a blank page. Aside from dynamic imagery and thoughtful design, it is the copy that provides a familiar anchor to web users.

UX copy has a variety of purposes, from providing product and service expertise to working as a customer service liaison. No matter what tone of voice you use, UX copy ultimately guides the user through the customer journey, helping them to make an informed decision whilst getting to know your brand personality.

One essential part of UX copy is the call to action (also referred to as C2A or CTA). In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of a CTA and give you some top tips to make them as effective as possible.

What is a CTA?

A CTA is a strategy used in UX digital marketing copy, designed to get website visitors to complete a specific action. 

The purpose of a CTAs is typically to build a customer base and generate leads, by leading users to more information about your business through a contact form or newsletter. Their other primary use is to create a direct path to products or services and to make a sale, such as by directing users through a transaction.

Whether you want a customer to buy a product or sign up for a newsletter, they need to know how they can go through these processes. In simple terms, a CTA is a small piece of copy that directs a user to click a link. From here, they become part of the customer journey.

Examples of common CTAs include:

  • “Learn more”

  • “Subscribe”

  • “Add to basket”

  • “Get started”

  • “Try for free”

CTAs often appear as a banner, pop-up, or button on a website. They also appear in social media, through Facebook ads or swipe-ups on Instagram stories. You can also find them in email campaigns.

How to write an effective CTA

In today’s crowded digital landscape, a carefully crafted CTA can be the difference between making or breaking a sale. It is no longer enough to simply “do this please”, instead, businesses must now make choices enticing to consumers and show them the value of the decisions they make.

Luckily, this is where UX design and copy collide, leading consumers down the path you’ve diligently carved out. Here are our top tips for writing a CTA that users just can’t say no to.

Use imperative language

A CTA is designed to convince someone to do the exact thing you want them to do, so be confident and bold with the language you use.

A combination of an authoritative tone and action verbs directs users and instantly lets them know what to do. Words such as “shop”, “join”, or “click” is simple and concise, preventing any confusion that prevents users from continuing on their customer journey.

It is important, however, to strike the perfect balance between being authoritative without being imposing. CTAs should be low risk to the user, providing them with the knowledge they need without having to commit to anything. Therefore, you need to sound confident but not pressurising.

For example “SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER RIGHT NOW!” can seem imposing and may make some users question whether there is a fee for joining. In contrast, an easy “Sign up now, for free” lets the user know how they can subscribe to the newsletter without feeling pressured or worried about paying for it.

Make the most of FOMO

We’ve all experienced the fear of missing out (FOMO). Leverage this feeling in your CTA to create a sense of urgency that propels the user forward.  

Some great ways to do this include introducing a limited time sale promotion. Terms such as “Use promo code” or “Browse while stocks last” compel the user to take advantage. Whether you offer money off or free next day delivery, these short time sales push users into making their purchase decision there and then so that they do not miss out on any special rewards.

Make use of exciting language and punctuation that further enhances the sense of earnestness. Exclamation marks (!) and hyperbolic statements such as “you won’t find sales like this anywhere else!” emphasise the significance of clicking the link and demonstrate the value to the user.

 Inject your business personality

The best part about writing copy for UX design is that you can really get to know what your users will respond to and enjoy. Using information about your customers' habits and what type of tone compels them to act more frequently, you can change up your messaging to keep them on board.

If you have a more relaxed tone of voice for your business, instead of the standard “Sign up to our newsletter”, you could have a more upbeat “Send me the good stuff!” or even simply “Keep me in the loop!”. These playful phrases demonstrate your business personality and the light-hearted direction puts the user at ease, making them much more likely to want more from your organisation.

This is particularly useful if you have an age demographic that is familiar with the internet as they won’t need as obvious signposting to know what to do, giving you more opportunity to play around with your messaging.

It is also important to remember to work with your designers to make these essential CTAs stand out. Together with your UX team, decide whether pop-ups or banners are more likely to attract the attention of your users. From here, incorporate a meaningful design that makes your message and choice stand out. Typical examples include utilising white space around a CTA button or using brighter colours to catch the user’s eye.

Our top three favourite CTAs

From software to subscription boxes, a diligently formulated CTA can entice us to find out more about almost anything. 

We’ve collected our top three favourites CTAs on popular websites, to give you a visual example of what a carefully crafted CTA can really do. 

Basecamp

Basecamp is a software company that creates collaborative organisation tools for teams in businesses. Their project management software is simple and easy to use, and this is reflected in their UX design.

We really like this CTA as it pulls together a great variety of tactics. The white background makes the yellow CTA button pop off the page, drawing your attention immediately. The bold and large heading is also eyecatching, succinctly describing the product and how it can help.

The button itself uses simple yet compelling language, directing you to trial the product. Better yet, a secondary CTA button in the top right-hand corner also allows you to see that there is no cost for trying out the product. Using a secondary call button is a great way to provide more information without compromising the design and also allows you to capture users’ attention across more than one area of the page.

Basecamp has also made its CTA take advantage of FOMO. The subtle reviews along the top provide positive feedback and garner the customer’s trust, quickly demonstrating how much others love the software. 

Below the CTA button itself, the simple statement “3,517 companies signed up in the last week alone!” demonstrates the popularity of the product to the user. This small sentence envokes FOMO, convincing others to try the product for themselves to see what the hype is about.

PrettyLittleThing

PLT

PrettyLittleThing (PLT) is a clothing company, creating the latest fashion looks and setting trends. Mainly catered to women, the website design uses fun pops of pink and lots of photography to showcase the business personality.

PLT uses playful language and puns to further show off their tone of voice. “There’s snow stopping us!” leads customers to winter coats and jackets. While not strictly obvious from the homepage, this humourous pun makes users chuckle and makes them want to click to find out more. Similarly, “Stay home but make it cute” plays on internet trends and memes, implying to users that comfortable clothing for the home is available there. PLT really know their audience and the references they will understand, and this shows in the CTA copy they choose.

The queens of utilising FOMO, PLT are known for their legendary sales. The first third of the landing page is packed with multiple CTAs, encouraging users to make the most of their limited time offers. The language used such as “final further reductions” and “get it or regret it” creates a sense of urgency, compelling users to speed through the purchasing journey to make a quick decision. 

The only traditional CTA button on the page is a simple one: “Shop now”. This authoritative language and simple designs show users exactly where to click to browse through the clothing options.

However, knowing that their audience is typically younger and familiar with using the web, each grey title also serves as a CTA button. For example, “New Year New You – Shop PLT Fitness” directs users to their latest sports clothing collection. Even though it isn’t immediately obvious that you can click there, experienced PLT users will still know just what to do.

HelloFresh

Hello Fresh

HelloFresh is a food subscription service, providing fresh ingredients and healthy recipes straight to your door. This ease and freshness are demonstrated in their UX design, using crisp greens and simple directions to evoke the sense of the quality of life the HelloFresh provides.

The large CTA box on the left-hand side of this landing page is packed with marketing techniques designed to draw users in.

We love that the CTA on Hello Fresh’s homepage allows for options and customisation, funnelling the results to ultimately improve the conversion rate. This stand-out white box with contrasting green buttons not only allows users to select the number of people and the number of recipes they are looking for, but it also quickly demonstrates to the users the price per serving. It gives all the essential information a customer would need to make a purchase decision in one compact space.

They also capitalise on FOMO by demonstrating the savings first time users can make. Not only does the bold, large title succinctly demonstrate the offer available, the price and shipping changes to reflect this. Using strikethroughs and contrasting red colours, the user can’t help but feel like they need to immediately cash in on the money saved. 

Again, a secondary bold green CTA captures users attention across various hotspots on the page. Next to this, the offer available is repeated however this time more information is provided. Now the users can see that there is no pressure with joining up, as they have the ability to “pause or cancel at any time”. This gives some relief to the user, putting them at ease so that they don’t feel pressured or tied in by the service. 

Final thoughts

There is more to CTAs than meets the eye. Always work with closely your UX and design team to understand your audience and what they respond to well. From here, you can create unique designs and carefully select your word choice to smoothly direct them where you want them to go. 

A well thought out CTA can lead to an improved click-through rate and more conversions, ultimately garnering you the success you deserve.