Skip to main content
5 minutes reading time (1015 words)

What Is a Primary Versus Secondary CTA (Call-To-Action)

Successful websites must have clear calls-to-action (CTAs) on each page. A call-to-action clearly guides and motivates users to complete a desired action on your website. However, there is a distinct difference between a primary CTA and a secondary CTA.

Do you have both types of CTAs? Should you? Keep reading to learn what primary and secondary CTAs are and when you should use them.

example of primary vs secondary ctasExample of a website CTA

While we primarily focus on website calls-to-action in this article, keep in mind that any type of marketing, from email newsletters to printed marketing materials, can and should also leverage primary and secondary CTAs.

What Is a Primary CTA (Call-To-Action)

A primary CTA (Call-To-Action) blatantly directs your website visitor to complete the primary, high-value action you want them to complete.

For example, if you are a local plumber, you may want a visitor on your website to give your plumbing company a call to resolve their immediate plumbing issue. Or for an e-commerce website, the primary CTA may simply be to purchase the product of interest.

Primary CTAs typically require a high commitment level from the visitor (completing a purchase, calling for an estimate, scheduling an appointment, etc.). They also typically are the most important to the business since they are direct revenue generating opportunities.

What is a Secondary CTA (Call-To-Action)

A secondary CTA (Call-To-Action) directs your website visitor to complete a secondary, typically lesser value, action.

For example, while a local plumber’s primary call-to-action may be to call for an appointment, the secondary call-to-action may be to download a guide (in exchange for the visitor’s email address) that contains ten tips for winterizing your plumbing system. Similarly, an e-commerce store’s primary action may be a purchase, but a secondary action may be to sign up for a monthly newsletter for upcoming sales or to reach out with product questions.

A softer secondary CTA could simply be to guide the user to a different page if they are not yet convinced to take the primary action. For example, the secondary CTA could be to check out example past projects a local construction company has completed or view testimonials from satisfied past customers.

Secondary CTAs typically require a lower level of commitment from the visitor, which often means there is less resistance to completing a secondary CTA. While still important to a business, a secondary CTA typically either drives less value for the business or is a long-term play to generate revenue from the potential customer.

When Should I Use a Primary Vs. Secondary CTA

You should almost always use both a primary CTA and a secondary CTA. Since you do not intimately know the commitment level of each visitor that reaches your website, it is important to cater to all types of visitors. Technically, both CTA’s can even appear side-by-side.

example of primary and secondary cta displayed side by sideExample of primary and secondary CTA displayed side-by-side

Does that mean you should extrapolate and have twenty different calls-to-action on each page? No! Too many calls to action can lead to your primary CTA getting lost within the content of the page.

How to Write Both Excellent Primary and Secondary CTAs

Take a look back at the key web pages on your website or CTAs within your marketing materials. Do they clearly guide users where to go next? Do they persuade the user to take action with positive reinforcement?

If you are not convinced that you have effective CTA’s, check out our Best Practices for Writing an Irresistible Call-To-Action (CTA). Additionally, if you are not sure what types of CTAs to even include in your website, get inspired by these 10 types of calls-to-action to use on your website to increase revenue.

How to Measure the Success or Failure of your CTAs

No matter how “perfect” you think you have created your CTAs, only measurable user data will reveal what is working and what needs tweaking.

As such, we recommend a few different tools to help you understand how your call-to-action is actually performing. Note that we personally use the tools below both for our own purposes at Igniting Business and for our clients. Additionally, all the platforms mentioned below have free trials available if you want to try them out.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and A/B Testing for Improving CTAs

You can use a tool like Hotjar or Zoho PageSense to implement various conversion rate optimization techniques. For instance, you can easily implement a heatmap to see what parts of the page your users are viewing the most. That way you insert the CTA in the right spot. Additionally, you can use A/B testing to empirically assess which variations of a particular CTA work better than another. Both Hotjar and Zoho PageSense can anonymously record your visitors’ screens, so you can watch firsthand how they interact with your web page and associated CTAs.

hotjar example call to action heatmap trackingHotjar Heatmap Example Tracking Page Interactions

Marketing Channel Lead Tracking for CTAs

In combination with a CRO tool, we also recommend a holistic lead tracking tool which can track your desired actions like form submissions, support/sales chats, phone calls, and more. Additionally, robust lead tracking software like WhatConverts can both track and associate those conversions with specific marketing channels like SEO, Google Ads campaigns, social ads, third-party websites and more.

Level Up Your Marketing Knowledge and Toolset

If you are looking for more web design, SEO, and marketing tips, consider subscribing to our free monthly newsletter which we pack full of actionable tips and tools to make your life easier. Oh, and yes, you just read our article’s primary call-to-action.

At no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission if you click on some of the links on this website and make a purchase.

Related Posts