Guest Post by Marianna Pratt
Exactly what is it you want your website visitors to do? Ultimately the answer is “purchase something,” but most visitors aren’t ready to buy right away. They came to your site for some “interim” reason. But if they get confused or lost, they’ll probably just go away.
You have to give them something they want, and tell them how to get it. That’s your call to action (CTA). The more instructive you are, the more likely visitors are to stay on your site and do what you want.
That’s why you need a call to action on every page.
What you want visitors to do actually differs by page — go to another page for more information, give you their email, download a free report, contact you, visit your physical location, leave a comment, take a little survey, etc. You can use CTAs to lead visitors around your website.
Even your blog can become a stronger conversion tool, with a well-crafted call to action. Christopher LoDoke says the “best performing CTAs are ones that continue to educate your readers,” rather than offering a pushy sales pitch or generic “contact us” option. Check out his article and note his very clever call to action at the end.
Here are some things to think about when creating a call to action for each of your pages:
Create a sense of urgency.
- Spell out exactly which action you want visitors to take. Use verbs like call, subscribe, register, donate, download, view, order, and of course buy. Follow them with the word “now.”
- Imply or set a time limit to further increase your response rate: good until March 1, order today and get a discount, available for limited time only.
- Using “click here” may seem silly, but it’s proven to work well because it’s unambiguous.
Don’t offer too many alternatives.
- Limited choices produce higher response rates, so fewer is better.
- If you offer alternatives, be sure they are clearly distinct, to avoid confusion.
- If there’s a preferred alternative (buy now vs. request more information), put it first and make it bigger.
Tell them what’s in it for them.
- Thinking “win-win” will improve your conversion rate
- Tell and/or use pictures, graphics, etc. (it’s free, you get a prize, whatever), offer a reward – gift, discount, can set threshold (spend at least x and get something)
- Tell them it’s easy to take the next step. And resist the temptation to request too much information so you don’t put them off.
Make your call to action button obvious.
- It should be high on the page, so no one has to scroll down to find it. Statistics show the middle generates the most responses.
- Surround your button with white space rather than visual clutter. It doesn’t literally have to white.
- Make the button color a vividly contrasting color, and make it big, so visitors can’t miss it.
Tell them what will happen next.
- Their order will ship in 24 hours, they’ll get the download right now, etc.
- Meeting their expectations ensures a win-win.
Learn more from professional web developer and designer Jason Gube, who wrote an excellent article on “Best Practices for Effective Call to Action Buttons.” He offers lots of great examples showing a wide variety of business types, product types and “action” types along with detailed commentary and pointers.
In the end, your business is unique. So make sure you have a call to action on every page, but plan to A/B test key elements of each one, to find out exactly what’s most productive for you.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user alexnoguera.