On any website, a well-placed Call-To-Action (CTA) can make all the difference. From directing a visitor to valuable information that will establish your credibility, to encouraging a lead to start a conversation with you through a contact form.
But how many CTAs is too many? How few is not enough? It may sound like a question from a tech-inspired version of Goldilocks, but when it comes to designing a website it's more important than you may think to get this just right.
Luckily we don't have to rely on three digital bears to figure out the perfect number of CTAs for a web page.
But that's because there isn't a magic number. There's no definitive answer because it almost always relies on what is on the page and what the page is trying to achieve.
Not all pages should be designed around a CTA. Sure there are some that will mark the end of the buyer journey and have a prominent CTA to let the visitor know that the next step is to get in touch, sign up to receive more information or register to access a valuable piece of content.
But good content should come first. After all, why would a visitor continue to navigate through your website if the content has no value?
So let's look at some typical pages and how CTAs work with different content types.
When one CTA is all you need
If your page is geared towards a single action or offer and a visitor does not need any more information from another page, go with one CTA.
Bear in mind that this doesn't mean you can't have multiple CTA buttons, just that they all essentially do the same thing.
Examples of pages where this approach works include:
Landing pages - Standalone pages that present visitors with a single action or choice, like download this brochure or register for the webinar.
Contact page - You really only want to give your visitor one option here!
Individual product or service page - Your visitor has likely navigated through your site to get to this point, and the next move is to get in touch, or more importantly buy now!
When multiple CTAs are required
In many ways it's easier to know when to use more than one CTA on a page, because the page will be offering multiple routes to the visitor.
For tech companies it could be an industries page which leads to multiple pages categorised by sector, or a products page categorised by model.
These pages are like roundabouts.
Imagine your visitor is driving through your website, trying to make sure they stay on the right road to get to the information that's most useful to them. They see the roundabout, check the exits, then take the road that gets them to where they want to go.
It's especially useful to keep this idea in mind when adding CTAs to the most important page on your site - the homepage.
Getting your homepage right
The roundabout metaphor can help you to think about your buyer's journey and use your CTAs to take visitors where they want to go after they arrive on your homepage.
Consider this: When you start a journey in the real world, you don't go to one massive roundabout that has exits to every location in the country (even if there are some that feel like they do).
It would be overwhelming and confusing, and you'd probably turn around and head home. Well, the same applies to your website.
It's much more likely you'll encounter several smaller roundabouts, each one directing you, in an obvious way, to the best path to take to get to your desired destination.
The signposts (CTAs) tell you what's ahead, and what you need to do to continue your journey. You pick up valuable information along the way and complete the trip stress-free.
So don't overwhelm visitors with CTAs when they arrive on your homepage. Give them options based on your products or services and narrow down the choices as they navigate through your site.
Quantity and quality balance
With CTAs it's a balance between what your visitors want and what you want your visitors to do. You are aiming to provide your visitors with value and the best possible experience. But at the same time, for marketing and lead generation, you're capturing information about them and their needs.
Too many CTAs can confuse the visitor and spoil their experience. It can also ruin your lead generation efforts as CTA overload can result in the visitor not clicking at all.
Too many clickable options = No clicks at all
Too many paths = The visitor gets lost
Too few CTAs is irritating too. Not providing links where there should be one can be frustrating for visitors. We, as website visitors, have been trained over the years to expect certain things from a website - a products page for your products as a prime example. How often are we now seeing one page websites? The forever scrolling homepage? Do these pages make the buying journey easier for your visitor?
No clickable options = No lead tracking
Too much scrolling = A sore finger
The key is to think like you visitor and add CTAs where your visitor would expect to see them.
There are pages where different rules apply:
Blog posts - Consider using one prominent CTA, with multiple in body reference links and/or further reading links.
Pillar pages - Same as blog posts, but within the same subject matter.
FAQ - Reference links where and if applicable, with optional prominent CTA to offer.
About page - No rules! This page should validate you as a supplier, so the next step will likely be to link to examples of work and case studies.