March 17, 2014 | Posted By: Colleen Cassidy

Calls to action (CTAs) really, really matter because they have a material impact on conversion performance. Plenty of ink has been spilled on this topic among many of your finer marketing blogs.  I’ve got a few mental shortcuts for evaluating  CTAs that make short work of evaluating them:

  • CTAs start with a verb,
  • Include a ‘what’s in it for them‘ statement,
  • And are abundantly clear about a benefit or other desired action that i’m being asked to pursue.

As a personal exercise, I thought I’d surf around the web and take a few screen shots of banner ads and evaluate the creatives.  But what I found was too good to keep to myself and wound up as a blog post worth sharing with you. While the topic du jour is call to action examples, I’ll also comment on other aspects of the campaign assets below.

Without further ado, here are 11 ad banners as seen around the web:



What I like:

  • The background color catches my eye which makes the banner quite visible when contrasted with the many sites (network distribution) where this ad may display.
  • Premium brand at 50%? Now that’s an offer. It’s on!
  • The use of, “Friday only,” creates urgency.
  • The 50% OFF copy and CTA button are both in red, which draws attention.

Things I’d change or test:

  • Bigger CTA button (you have the real estate, so why not?).
  • The arrow in the button is so small it looks like a dot, not directional cue.
  • Test the CTA. Do you really want me to “Find your nearest NM.”  Or, would you rather that I, “Shop now?”  Make it clear you want me to shop. C’mon. Finding a store is not what you really want me to do. Make me open my wallet now.



What I like:

  • The white tab that holds the logo catches without having to make the brand logo massive (i.e. taking more real estate than needed.)

Things I’d change or test:

  • Try a different CTA. I don’t want to apply. This sounds like a long and arduous form I’ll have to fill out.
  • How about “Save $25” or “Click here to save $25,” instead?



Editors Note: I took this screen grab but don’t know who it is and I’m too lazy to ‘Google’ who it might be.  But I reacted to their ad, so here’s the low down…

What I like:

  • CTA button visually stands out.
  • “Try it free” layout is solid (try = good, FREE in call caps = good).
  • Nice use of a cloud as a bullet point in the CTA button.

Things I’d change or test:

  • The red section has an arrow pointing in a direction away from the CTA button (and reverses course for the direction that I read – left to right – as well as my thought sequence).
  • Is the scraggly line a logo? Who are you?
  • There’s no value proposition, such as, “Hybrid cloud computing saves 30% on server costs.” What can you do for me?



What I like:

  • Great offer. For $5, what have I got to lose? I’m tempted to try the product and I don’t even fish!
  • The compartmentalization of the logo and brand name in left-hand side looks great.
  • I’m ready to pop a cold can of beer and cast my line already.

Things I’d change or test:

  • Try a few CTA variations. “Yes I want a Mystery Tackle Box,” or, “Get a box,” or, “Click here to get a box.”
  • The offer is sweet, but the white font gets lost against the woodland background.  It’s hard to read.
  • The CTA, “Join now,” should go to the right of the offer. I’m assuming most people read left to right. Plus, that follows my thought sequence.
  • P.S. – a good thought sequence would be LOGO > OFFER > CTA.



What I like:

  • The black and with contrast makes stands out and also makes it easy to read.
  • Inclusion of both the word ‘exclusively’ and a date ’12.8.13’ makes me curious.

Things I’d change or test:

  • There’s no call to action. 🙁
  • Why spend ad dollars on  campaign, “Introducing,” when you can ask me to, “Learn more,” or, “Buy now?”
  • Try expanding on the notion of ‘newness’ with a CTA that says, ‘Get the brand new Bethany Mota Collection.”



What I like:

  • Pie.
  • Eating pie!

Things I’d change or test:

  • This was an animated banner. The pie animation definitely caught my eye. Congrats, you have my attention. But now I can’t read your headline because your pie is sliding down and covering it up.
  • Consider placing your call to action at the bottom.



What I like:

  • Crisp, clean creative.

Things I’d change or test:

  • Too vague. I think St. Regis is a hotel but I’m not sure. The clue that it is a hotel is the word ‘suite.’  But I’m still not sure.
  • Celebrate is a verb, so thanks for the tip. I’ll celebrate. But I’m not going to click because I have no idea what you are selling me.
  • Reserve what?  (A suite or a tea party? I have no idea what you are selling.)
  • How about, “Throw awesome tea parties! Click here to find out how!”
  • You don’t have a hotel in Los Angeles (where I am) so consider geo-targeting your ads.



What I like:

  • This ad is freakin’ awesome. Aesthetics of the color mustard-yellow aside, you got my attention.
  • The short, simple message is focused and gets me thinking about what I should be doing with my site traffic.
  • Stop, Start and Get is verb-tacular!
  • Message repetition of, “Free for 21 days,” and, “Get 21 days free,” drives home value proposition.
  • CTA button stands out with bright color and shadow effect on top of an otherwise ‘flat’ design theme.

Things I’d change or test:

  • Test different CTAs, like “Get my 21 days free,” or, “Start capturing leads.”



Things I like:

  • Fruit.  And Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Things I’d change or test:

  • Focus.  Find one value proposition and/or one call to action and test. A user survey or some customer development would go a long way to help refine the message and find out what matters to your prospective customers.
  • Or if you really need to get many points across, perhaps you could promote a white paper and ask folks to click and download it.
  • If a Free SEO report is the offer, how about testing a CTA, “Get my Free SEO report?”



What I like:

  • Visually strong, big font, easy to read.

Things I’d change or test:

  • Try a value proposition (i.e. What’s in it for me?)
  • Add a CTA – any CTA to start.



What I like:

  • The layered imagery creates a three-dimensional effect and for a small 300×250 ad, there is considerable depth.
  • “New,” gets me curious.
  • “Pull,” is super sweet call to action that is rare – so it gets some extra credit.
  • McD logo is small and what’s nice is that they indicate the brand, but get out of the way of the product.
  • “New,” and, “Pull,” both have arrows as a directional cue.

Things I’d change or test:

  • There are two logos (M and McCafe), test using only one or the other, but not both concurrently.  I know you have brand guidelines, but take a chance here…
  • Is the phrase, “Mind-bendingly delicious,” really needed or does the product image already suggest that it’s yummy? Try a variation without it.

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