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October 1, 2019

How Many CTAs Should I Use?

Marketers can’t ever seem to agree on how many calls-to-action to include on a webpage, email, or piece of content. Let’s set the record straight!

Whether to include multiple calls-to-action (CTA) on a single page or stick to one primary selling point per webpage, email, or content asset is one of the oldest and most heavily disputed questions in digital marketing. 

Throughout my career, I’ve heard a lot of good arguments for both positions, and I’ve even waffled back and forth about the right approach. Every consumer has different browsing habits and will behave uniquely in each situation, which means that different scenarios call for different tactics. So, while I’d like to say there’s a single one-size-fits-all answer to guide you across the board, it’s just not that simple, unfortunately. 

On the one hand, too many choices might overwhelm your users and could lead to a sort of paralysis that causes them to do nothing rather than all the things. On the other, only having one CTA might feel limiting to your users and/or present an option that they’re simply not interested in. 

So the question isn’t as simple as “How many CTAs should I use?” Instead, it’s more useful to ask a different question entirely, “When should I use a single CTA vs. when should I use multiple CTAs?” because there’s a time and place for both.

When we examine the question this way, it’s easy to see that there are several common situations with fairly well-defined and proven CTA strategies. Let’s examine a few — but before we do, let’s get crystal clear on what a call-to-action actually means within the context of digital marketing.

What Is a Marketing Call-to-Action?

Somewhat surprisingly, many new and novice marketers either don’t know what a marketing CTA is or aren’t sure if they’re even necessary. The belief among this small collection of marketers is that most people already know what to do in order to make a purchase or learn more about what they’re interested in. They might also think that calls-to-action are too pushy and could actually lead their potential customers to one of their competitors.

In some industries, these might be valid concerns, but those instances are pretty rare. The truth is that while most consumers know that they can scour your website for a “Contact Us” page or call your sales team directly from a link in the footer of an email, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually do either of these things if you don’t place a clear and prominent call-to-action front and center to motivate them to do so. These motivational cues are a crucial aspect of getting potential and existing customers to continue moving through the sales funnel.

A call-to-action (commonly abbreviated to “CTA”) is a user instruction to perform a certain function. In B2C marketing, the most common CTAs include language like “Buy Now” and “Create Your Account.” In B2B, where the sales cycle is usually considerably longer, CTAs usually reflect the prospect’s position in the funnel and are intended to equip them with tools and resources they need to progress to the next stage of that journey. Regardless of the intended outcome, the goal is always to drive conversions with intention — no matter which channel you’re using.

For instance:

  • Awareness: Learn More
  • Consideration: Download Your eBook
  • Decision: Book a Demo
  • Retention: Become a Rewards Member
  • Advocacy: Tell Us What You Think

While these are just a few boilerplate examples, note that they’re all fairly short (five words or less) and that the first word of each is a verb that serves to inspire action.

Call-to-Action Best Practices by Marketing Channel

Before we dive into how many CTAs to use in each marketing channel, I need to reiterate that every single marketing asset you create must have some sort of call-to-action on the page. Failing to include one only motivates your prospects to stay put and does very little in helping you reach your goals. Even if it’s as simple as a “Call Today” tag on a social media post, calls-to-action have proven to be wildly effective. 

In fact, Copy and Check recently analyzed nearly 1,000 SaaS company CTAs and found that every page they reviewed had at least one call-to-action (1). And according to WordStream, emails with a single CTA can increase clicks 371% and sales a staggering 1617% (2). So, regardless of whether you use one or more CTAs on a page, be sure to always include at least one to drive more conversions and more revenue.

How to Build Better Landing Pages

Now, let’s break down a few CTA best practices by marketing channel! (Please note that these are suggestions and that every industry and business should list as many or as few calls-to-action as they feel necessary to align with their strategy and meet their goals.)

Number of CTAs per Webpage

Different webpages have different objectives, so let’s start with the homepage and narrow down to the more granular pages. 

Homepage CTAs

Your homepage will likely have multiple CTAs because it often serves as your visitors’ initial introduction to your brand. Maybe these users want to learn a bit more about your products and services, so you should have an easy path to help them navigate to your most common and lucrative offerings. Or, they might not even be sure of what they’re actually looking for yet — customers at this point only know that they have a problem and have just started their search for a solution. These prospects might be interested in downloading an eBook or viewing a product overview video, so you should create a compelling CTA to get them to do so. 

Then there’s the ultimate goal for any B2B marketer: the “Handraiser.” You’ll want to direct these hot prospects to complete a “Contact Us,” “Talk to an Expert,” or “Book a Demo” form on your homepage. This way, your sales team can follow-up directly (and, ideally, immediately) or at least push the lead back to marketing to be entered into a nurture campaign until they’re in a better position to discuss their needs and a potential purchase. 

Product Page CTAs

Most product pages will have at least two CTAs because there are usually two types of visitors. On the one hand, you could have a prospective buyer who’s a little further down the sales cycle and ready to speak with a salesperson. You need to have a prominent call-to-action that gets these handraisers (see above) where they need to go.

On the other hand, as I’ll continue to stress throughout this blog, not every visitor is ready to make a purchase. In fact, some aren’t even close to doing so and have just begun the research phase of the customer journey. These people need content, not phone calls. So give them what they want in the form of an eBook, webinar, podcast, etc. and make sure that you have a strong CTA that clearly instructs them about what will happen and what they will receive if they click on your button.

Support Page CTAs

Support pages will also likely have multiple CTAs because your prospects will likely have several different questions that you might be able to answer without a phone call or through a chatbot. These pages are a great opportunity for you to present all your great content square in front of your audience. 

For instance, if someone has a question about a specific product line, you could provide a link that allows them to download an ungated datasheet about that offering. Or if they’re not even sure how or why they might need your services, you could include a link to download a high-level thought leadership piece that is designed to educate prospects who are new to your industry.

Number of CTAs per Marketing Email

Any discussion of CTAs should begin and end with intentionality. What do you want to achieve with this page or this blog or this landing page? Much like webpages, marketing emails often serve different purposes, but there are still email call-to-action best practices to keep in mind. 

A trigger-based email might thank a user for joining a webinar and then take that opportunity to place a single handraiser CTA button at the end of the copy inviting them to book a product demo. Alternatively, a lead nurturing email might have a primary CTA that asks the reader to download an infographic and then a secondary button to get them to schedule a call. As long as you’re motivating your users to take action and providing a tangible benefit if they do so, you’re probably on the right track.

Number of CTAs per Blog

Blogs are a bit unique because they represent a golden opportunity to further educate your audience. In fact, we recently updated our blog template to create more opportunities for additional content. In this new version, we have at least seven calls-to-action, although most of them are fairly obscure and benign to prevent distracting the reader.

On each blog page, we have:

  • 4 pieces of recommended content in the sidebar
  • Newsletter subscription field in the sidebar
  • One piece of sticky content in the sidebar
  • And then the same piece of content that is in the stick is also placed as the primary CTA at the end of the blog

As I said, this is a new approach for us, so we don’t have a ton of data outlining our progress so far, but adding related and relevant content to blog pages is always a good idea. Think about it: you’ve already secured an interested audience, so why wouldn’t you want them to keep learning more about pertinent content that is both educational and presents your organization as a true thought leader in your space.

Furthermore, when you create awesome industry reports or are featured in an analyst report, you have to get this information in front of prospective buyers. And since blogs are often one of the leading traffic sources for organizations of all sizes, they can be a terrific place for subtle self-promotion as buyers move from the top of the funnel toward the middle. Blogs are meant to educate your audience and build brand awareness, so keep serving up awesome content, and you’ll keep moving them through the sales funnel.

Number of CTAs Per Dedicated Landing Page

This one is a no-brainer and not really disputable in my mind. The purpose of a dedicated landing page is to get your audience to convert. That’s it. That’s all. So you do not want to confuse the issue by asking them to do more than one thing. Thus, these dedicated landing pages should only have a single CTA.

What’s more, you shouldn’t include any navigation on these dedicated landing pages. You’ve likely put in a lot of time, effort, and even money to get your users to arrive on this page, so why would you give them the option to go browse on your website for five minutes and then bounce? And since your landing page should be focused on a very specific conversion action that your users inherently asked for by clicking through to the page, your conversion rates on these pages should be significantly higher than other channels

Content isn’t king; content that converts is king, especially on your dedicated landing pages. Let those conversions be your guide, and you can’t go wrong.

Produce More Conversions and More ROI With Act-On Marketing Automation

Now that you have a better understanding of call-to-action best practices for your various marketing channels, you need to know how many calls-to-action you should use in your various marketing channels and a marketing automation platform that helps you get these CTAs in front of the right audience at the right time for the most conversions and the best leads. With Act-On’s brilliant email marketing automation, intuitive landing page builder, and amazing insights that allow you to measure what’s working in order to optimize your efforts, you can rest assured that your digital marketing campaigns always hit their mark.

How to Build Better Landing Pages