This Is Why Your CTA Is Not Converting (and How to Fix It)

The calls to action (CTAs) on a website can make or break company revenue goals. Driving visitors to a page is only half the battle. Once people are there, the site must be engaging enough to move them toward the ultimate objective of converting from shoppers to buyers. If a brand has a CTA not converting, it’s time to check out the following factors and determine what changes are necessary.

Here are some of the principles designers should follow for the highest chance of success with CTAs.

1. Use Actionable Language

Vague phrases such as “Info” or “More” don’t encourage action. Instead, use actionable verbs, such as “Get Free Report” or “Sign Up” to drive engagement.

Stick to simple phrases or risk losing visitors with shorter attention spans. Try to come up with something that explains what the user will get when they take the action and why it’s specific to the brand.

Some strong action verbs website owners can use include:

  • Buy
  • Shop
  • View
  • Subscribe
  • Try
vrbo web page screenshot


VRBO uses a simple “Book Now” command to encourage site visitors to place a reservation with one of their host locations. The button is blue, which pops against the backdrop of black, white and gray. Each property has a CTA button that follows the user down the page, as they look at photos of the property or interact with the listing.

2. Check Placement

Is the CTA still not converting? Where it’s located on the page can have a huge impact on how successfully it sends users down the buyer’s journey path. Try different locations and use A/B split tests to determine which location on the page works best with a particular audience.

Some users want enough information to make a decision before seeing a CTA button. Others are ready to act as soon as they land and need an option near the top of the page.

3. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Get people to click on the CTA button by making an attractive offer. Give them something free, for a limited time or offer a perk if they convert to a customer.

There are two schools of thought on offering free items to collect leads. Some believe it gives the brand a direct connection to people already interested in what they offer. Others think freebies just attract people who want something for nothing and won’t convert into buyers.

Try different offers and see how the results shake out.

inhub website screenshot


A good example of offering something free so people can see what a brand offers is found on inHub. Note the “Join for Free” CTA button right at the top of the page. If the full signup process is rather lengthy, brands may take action to make a free signup for a trial or download simpler. Collecting only crucial information to stay in touch, such as a first name and email address, encourages users to complete the signup.

4. Increase the Size

For a CTA not converting, increasing the size of the button might improve conversions. A mere increase of 20% in size can draw user attention and improve sales. Try making the button easier to find. Move it around, make it larger, make it smaller and see what users respond to.

Every site and every offer is slightly different. What works for one site or even page on that website, may not work for another. Testing is critical.

5. Create a Sense of Urgency

Once users leave a site, they aren’t as likely to return. They may intend to but a million other things distract them from coming back. Whenever possible, create a sense of urgency to drive conversions while having their attention.

Utilize words and phrases such as:

  • Limited time
  • Ends soon
  • X left
  • Buy now
  • Hurry

One note of caution — if the CTA says something is only available for a limited time, don’t extend that time indefinitely. Users should trust a brand to stick to its word. If the CTA or text surrounding it says there are only two hours left to get an offer, it must disappear after that time. The company can create a new offer, but it should not be the initial one.

hulu website screenshot


Hulu adds a CTA to the top bar of their site to really drive home the point that the offer is for a limited time. They even list the end date so users know exactly when the cost goes up. If one looks at the CTA buttons further down the page, they’ll see in small letters it shows how much the price is going up and why users shouldn’t delay in signing up.

6. Add White Space

One big mistake people make with CTAs is not adding enough white space around them. A bit of negative space sets a button apart and shows the user it’s something important they should pay attention to.

For mobile users, adding white space makes it easier to click on the button on a smaller screen. Since over half of internet traffic is now via mobile devices, it makes sense to create a responsive design.

Figuring Out Why a CTA Is Not Converting

The CTA may not be converting for numerous reasons. Running tests to figure out what works with the brand’s audience is the number one way to improve conversions. Try changing the color of the button, the size, the placement and even the wording. With a bit of trial and error, designers will find the best combination for their audience and wind up with a high-converting landing page that drives growth.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

Web Design Tips to Lead Visitors Through the Buyer Journey

The buyer’s journey isn’t always a straight path. Site visitors might start later in the process than you’d expect, jump around, skip steps and take a winding trek along the way. However, you can lead visitors through the sales funnel. Your online customer journey can be improved and turned into a positive force for conversions.

Forrester recently reported how drastically buying behavior changed during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The 2021 B2B Buying Study found a 59% increase in how many interactions buyers prefer now compared to two years ago. People expect you to anticipate their needs and plan for a positive customer experience (CX).

Users want more engagement and guidance in moving from point A to point B in the buying process. Consider these web design tips to lead your site visitors from browsers to leads to buyers without missing a beat.

1. Know the Stages

The first step to improving the buyer’s journey is understanding the stages a customer goes through. The first stage is awareness, where they’re learning about your brand. They then research, consider, decide and hopefully return.

One buyer may have heard about your product from a friend and even seen it in action and might skip right past the awareness section of your site. People come to your website at different stages, and some may need more time in research while others go right to the decision stage.

Offering separate landing pages is the No. 1 way to ensure your site visitors get what they need no matter where they are in the journey.


Credit Canada taps into the online customer journey and gives people the option to jump right to a free debt assessment or learn more and watch a video. Someone landing on the page in the awareness stage will choose to gather more details. On the other hand, if they’ve already decided to try the service, they can hop right to sharing their information.

2. Understand Your Clients

Knowing your buyers’ preferences lets you use the language and triggers they need to move forward regardless of the phase of the journey they’re in. For example, a young single male won’t have the same concerns as a father of three children.

If you’re selling an alarm system, the father will care about his family’s safety. The single man may be concerned about his pets or belongings. The focus is a tiny bit different, depending on the demographics of your target audience.

Take the time to create buyer personas to ensure you’re using the right tone and emotional signals.

3. Choose Power Words

Some words trigger users to take action. Start with strong action verbs that explain the next step you want the site visitor to take. However, you can also focus on words with additional pull, such as “free” or “trial offer.”

People often want to try things before buying them or gather information without feeling obligated to sign up. The language you use to push the buyer through their journey signals the benefits of choosing your brand over a competitor.


Rollguard features some language to help move users through the process. Action verbs such as “Learn,” “Start” and “Configure” all pull the user into the journey. It also uses the verb “Order” combined with “Free Samples.”

4. Tap Into Keywords

Speaking of words, tap into the power of using certain keywords and phrases your buyers are likely to search for. The page they land on should be geared toward those specific keywords. If you sell those alarms mentioned previously, you might use a keyword phrase such as “the best alarm system to protect my family.” You would then share content that explains how to do so.

Make sure any content you add to your page offers value to the user. If someone seeks solutions to keep their family safe from burglary, fire or other events, they want some answers and not just a big sales pitch.

5. Cut Clutter

You want to hold the user’s attention from the minute they land on your site. One of the best ways of doing so is getting rid of anything you don’t need. Each page on your website should have a specific purpose, and every element needs to point the user toward a goal for the page.

The homepage should move the user to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. Someone may already be aware of your brand and simply want to find the CTA button and move on to the next step. You don’t want to waste their time with a lot of bells and whistles. Make it simple and keep the traffic moving along.

People are busy. They don’t have much time to waste and will want to move on without missing a beat.


Depop serves either buyers or sellers. Its goal is to get people to sign up to do either or both. The site offers some clear CTAs pointing the way to download the app or sign up in the moment. Users can browse via their search bar, but Depop prefers to get them on the platform fast and get things moving.

Use Good Design Practices

The best way to get people on your page and keep them there is to use solid design practices in the first place. You can then tweak things to make sense for where your site visitors are in the buyer’s journey and move them along with CTAs and words.

9 Reasons Why Now Is an Excellent Time to Better Optimize Your Site Filters

9 Reasons Why Now Is an Excellent Time to Better Optimize Your Site Filters

One of the biggest advantages of online shopping for customers is the huge selection of items available. However, sorting through everything can be time-consuming, even in a digital environment. Fortunately, you can optimize your category filters and make the user experience (UX) positive.

According to Statista, retail e-commerce in the United States is a $1 billion business and grows every year. The pandemic accelerated the number of people shopping online and increased online stores. If you want to stand out, you need to optimize your site in every way possible. What better place to start than with your website filters?

Here are nine reasons why now is the best time to optimize your site filters.

1. Convert More Visitors

Increased internet traffic means more site visitors across the board. You can take advantage of anyone who starts searching through your products by enhancing your filters and making them more usable. You’ll gain a higher conversion rate when you help visitors find the exact item they’re looking for.


Solo Stove uses icons and a simple filtering system to help you choose your next fire pit based on size and other factors. The simple filters work for the limited number of products, proving you don’t have to keep a huge inventory to categorize items effectively.

2. Outrank Competitors

More people opened new businesses in the last couple of years to meet the rising demands of online shopping. If you want to do better than the competition, you have to make the experience as easy and intuitive as possible.

Pay attention to what others in your niche do for their filtering and sorting options. Is there anything they could improve? What can you do that’s better or offers a little more?

3. Weed Out Non-Buyers

Every person who visits your site uses up resources in some way. You pay for additional bandwidth, or your website slows down or even crashes during high traffic moments. That’s why it’s vital to weed out people who will never buy from you.

When you add the option to filter down to exactly what the user wants, they can quickly see if you have what they’re looking for. If not, they can simply move on to a different online vendor that does.

4. Utilize Images

Now is a great time to add images to your categories as a quick filtering method. Internet speeds and screen resolutions are faster and higher than ever before. Now is an excellent time to better optimize your filters by adding pictures. You won’t have to worry about site visitors bouncing away because photos don’t load or the site freezes up.


PowerPak does a great job of using photos to showcase each category. The images aren’t tiny but are large enough for the user to see at a glance. The site offers further filtering options based on size and other factors in a sidebar on the left.

5. Consider the Order

There are many different ways you can order your filtering options. Make sure you go with the most intuitive setup possible. Now is an excellent time to reorder your site filters because there is so much data available about your users. Look at heatmaps of your site to see which things visitors spend the most time on.

Put yourself in the shoes of the average customer. What things might they filter by first? For example, will they initially focus on color or size if looking for clothing?

6. Hide Unneeded Filters

Not all filters will apply to all the products you carry. Hide the ones that aren’t necessary. People may be looking for a better shopping experience, so enhancing how your filters work and paying attention to the results of each type of product can make a huge difference in your conversion rates.

7. Embrace Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is growing by leaps and bounds, so using it within your filtering process enhances the UX of your online store. You can show users how an item might look in their living room, on their finger or being worn.


Zenni Optical offers a “try on” feature for most of its glasses. You can use the app or desktop site and a camera to see how different frames might look on your face. The VR becomes a sort of filter to find which styles fit you best.

8. Speed up Your Site

Now is an excellent time to speed up search results. If your server can’t do this quickly, it might be time to invest in a dedicated plan. Users expect almost instant results whenever they browse your site. Google even ranks based on how fast your site performs. Look for script errors or issues with results not loading quickly enough.

Make sure to optimize any images on results pages so the site loads instantly.

9. Add a Search Box

Make your search box easy to find. Put yourself in the shoes of the average customer. They’re faced with thousands of choices and tons of advertising every day. Make sure your results pull up exact terms your customers are most likely to seek. You may even want to offer a popular feature items box.

Improve Your Site Filters

Take the time to improve your site filters and higher conversion rates will follow. Some extra attention to detail can make a huge difference in your site’s UX, whether you make filters easier to find, remove some of the categories or nix things that aren’t working.

Should Your Business Site Feature a Portfolio on the Landing Page?

Your landing page is often the first impression visitors have of your business. A well-designed site means the difference between a user who bounces away and one who converts into a lead. Should you include a portfolio on your landing page? Will it distract from the buyer’s journey?

The answer isn’t cut and dried. You might find a portfolio works well on one landing page and not another. In a Databox survey, researchers found a 26% average landing page conversion rate across industries. However, some sites saw rates as high as 70%. Your goals should start where your site currently is and gradually increase until you hit the range you desire.

Does Your Business Site Need a Portfolio?

What does a portfolio do for your business site? You’ve likely seen galleries on sites for home builders, interior designers and cosmetic surgeons. If you can show a clear before and after or how your product is unique, a portfolio inspires users.

Yes: You Offer Custom Options

Companies offering custom solutions can best showcase their abilities via photo galleries. If you build homes, create outdoor landscapes, create home decor or do any other type of custom work, then a portfolio on your landing page is a must.

Utilize your portfolio to show off your best work. Choose only photos highlighting what you do best. If you add detailing to cars, share a range of common requests such as pinstripes and more detailed work such as flames down the side of an old Chevy.

Grace Point Contracting offers custom options based on the needs of each client. Note the highlighted gallery image in the screenshot above and the details on how they added new siding, windows and doors.

Potential customers want to see the quality of work before contracting, so the images highlight their abilities, the process and the beautiful finished product.

Yes: You Sell Services

Not everyone is great at selling themselves. You might be the best vinyl vehicle wrap installer in your state, but if you don’t know how to convey the message to potential business to business (B2B) buyers, you may miss out on sales.

Your landing page can serve as a sales tool, so you don’t have to pitch yourself as hard. You can even pull it up and use it as a prop when talking to potential clients. Use the portfolio to showcase the work you’re most proud of.

Kentucky Dent Guy uses a portfolio on his landing page to highlight some of the more challenging dent repairs he’s capable of. The photos automatically rotate, so you can see how he fixes bumpers, door dings and hail damage.

Since each job is unique, this allows leads to see if his service might work for them. He also includes a way to phone and text him to get a fast quote.

Yes: Before and After Is Your Lifeblood

A portfolio is the perfect solution for any business that does improvements. For example, if you own an interior design company, landscaping firm, dental practice or anything that goes from start to finish with an improvement, you can showcase the before and after photos in your portfolio and make a powerful impression.

Select images with startling contrast. Think about the services and products making you the most profit and highlight them on your landing page portfolio.

Streitz Dental Arts shows their abilities by placing side-by-side photos of before and after smiles on their website. Some of the images are startling, which encourages clients with severe dental issues to contact them.

When to Avoid a Portfolio on Your Landing Page

You might wonder if there is ever a time you shouldn’t put a portfolio on your landing page. Of course, there are times when it will distract from the sales funnel and not add much value to your site. Here is when you should say no to a landing page gallery:

No: You Sell a Consistent Product

If you sell the same product that does the same thing for each customer, you may not need a portfolio. You might be better served highlighting the image in use or showing it from different angles.

Consider the details a customer needs to make an informed decision about buying from you. If they only need price, product details and a few images, avoid a bulky portfolio and keep the page streamlined.

No: Your Bounce Rate Is High

Do site visitors land on your page and immediately bounce away? You may have too much clutter on your landing pages. Remember to focus on a single goal for a single element on your site.

Who is your target audience? If you drive visitors from Facebook to collect a free guide and capture their emails, you shouldn’t distract from the purpose of the page. Add a simple form and let them know what they’re getting in exchange for their information.

Powerful Portfolios for Your Site

There is a time and place to add portfolios to your business website. Think about the purpose of each page and whether an image gallery adds to your goal and moves the user toward an action.

Add new features and test to see how users respond. Over time, your use of images should improve and you’ll know what drives your target audience. In the meantime, add photos when it makes sense and adds to the discussion. You can always take them down again and try something else.

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.