There are many steps to creating a successful display ad and one of them is the call to action. A call to action (often abbreviated CTA) is a banner, button, or some type of graphic or text on a website meant to prompt a user to click it and take an appropriate action. CTAs can also be used in articles and blog posts prompting the reader to take an action. The action can vary but often includes clicking through to a website or making a purchase. CTAs can even be used in social media marketing to ask the viewer to like or share a piece of content.

When using CTAs with display ads, you want to encourage consumers to click your ad while also telling them what will happen next. It’s very important to be honest about what will happen when they click. For example, “click to get a free quote” or “go here to see some examples of our work” are good CTAs that tell the reader what will happen if they do click.

You want your CTA to be strong and entice the reader to actually participate but you don’t want to come on too strong in the beginning, asking them to commit to too much too soon.

When we design an ad, it is always animated but with a final resting screen that contains what we call the client’s “takeaway message”. That message should include a call to action. In addition to using a CTA, you need to consider having a CTA in every frame. You don’t know when the consumer will happen to notice your ad so if you key messages are in every frame, and in particular, the final frame, you will increase your chances of a click.

You want these two elements- your CTA and your key message- to be as readily visible to your consumer as possible.

Now that you know the CTA is important, let’s take a look at how to create one successfully. Since display advertising has generally low click-thru rates, we try to encourage something different than just ‘click here’ as a phrase. Let’s take a look at some examples of this in action on real ads.

Here is an example of a unique call to action used in a display ad for a real estate broker that invites the viewer to click through to see their listings.

Another great example is a restaurant ad that has “see menu” as the CTA (see below):

In this example, we see a bold, juicy cheeseburger with all the fixin’s. We see their brand logo to increase brand awareness and we also see that they were voted ‘Best Burger in Mountain View’ for 19 years in a row. As if that is not enough to impress, there is also the CTA inviting the viewer to check out their menu.

Even non-profits can benefit from a great call to action. You can use it to ask for volunteers, donations and more.

Habitat of Humanity of the Greater San Francisco area has a call to action inviting viewers to ‘donate now’.

There are many great ways to use a unique call to action, aside from just saying “click here.” For example, The Peacock Lounge invites you to rock with them:

When creating a successful display ad, the call to action is just another important step in the process. To create the perfect CTA, think about what it is you actually want the viewer to do. Ask them to do it and keep it simple enough that they won’t click away and give up. Be sure you are honest about what they will see and experience if they do click and then follow through. Then combine it all into a final package with your brand message and CTA at center stage.

It’s that easy!