Disambiguating Call To Action

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nytimes-ctaI’ve been working with a number of clients recently on Web-site CTAs (Calls To Action).

In an effort to reduce ambiguity and confusion and to suggest a common vocabulary for planning and talking about CTA implementations, here are my working definitions of the components that comprise a Call To Action.

Working Definitions

CTA Goal

CTA Goal Refers to what you hope people who are confronted with your CTA will do.

In the case of a clickable button on a Web page, the CTA Goal is the destination URL. In the case of a print ad in a magazine, the CTA Goal might be calling the telephone number or scanning the QR code displayed in the ad.

CTA Asset

CTA Asset refers to the actual entity of a particular Footprint consisting of particular Content.

On the Web, a CTA Asset is typically a graphic file. In print, a CTA Asset is press-optimized copy.

CTA Content

CTA Content refers to the words and media elements that comprise a CTA Asset. It also encompasses file format, such as Flash movie, raster graphic (jpg, gif, png), text-only.

CTA Footprint

CTA Footprint refers to the size dimensions of the CTA Asset. On the Web, “Leaderboard” is the name conventionally associated with dimensions of 728×90 pixels. In print, CTA Footprints are sometimes referred to in column inches.

CTA Placement

CTA Placement refers to where any given CTA Asset is to be displayed. It can also encompass other parameters such as alignment and margin.

On the Web, a CTA Placement spec might be top of left sidebar above local nav, flush left; just below main menu, centered; etc. In print, a CTA Placement spec might be top-half of back inside cover.

CTA Instance

CTA Instance refers to a specific CTA Asset that has a specific Goal in a specific Placement in a specific medium (Web page, print ad).

On a Web page, a Leaderboard Asset that appears below the main menu on a Home page and has a destination of XYZ.com is one Instance. The same Asset with the same destination appearing below the main menu on an About Us page is another Instance. A different Asset with the same or different Placement and the same or different Goal is another Instance.


Can you improve upon these working definitions? Feel free to comment below.

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The nSiteful Tech Blog (the official blog of nSiteful Web Builders, Inc. since January of 2013) is where I (Jeff Cohan) and (occasionally) associates will be posting articles of potential interest to like-minded techies, nSiteful clients who are playing active roles in the maintenance of their own Web sites and blogs, and pretty much anyone interested in how Web strategies and tools can help them reach their goals.

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About Jeff Cohan

Jeff and his wife, Margie, are the proud parents of Sarah and Jake. Jeff is the founder, president and chief cook and bottle washer of nSiteful Web Builders, Inc., a Web development and Internet Consulting firm. In his spare time, Jeff builds Web sites and Web applications, plays guitar, putters around in his basement woodworking shop, mercilessly spoils his grandchildren, and creates videos from more than two decades of home movies. His current video project is an extended montage of people (mainly family members) asking him to stop filming them.

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