At this point, your web site is executing the marketing fundamentals with strong headlines and your product or service is featured prominently on your home page. You have a professional design that establishes the fact that your company and brand are trustworthy and of the highest quality. The next step is to tell your site visitor exactly what you want them to do.
”You have caught the readers with your headline. You have interested them with your copy. Do not leave them hanging in midair. Tell them what to do.” – John Caples
You need a clear marketing “call to action”. A “call to action” in advertising and marketing refers to active copy that compels a user to take action. Typically the action is to purchase a product or take some step in your sales cycle that will hopefully lead to a sale.
Here are a few examples of common and effective “call to action” phrases.
- Call now!
- Using your credit card? Click the "Buy It Now!" button to purchase this product
- For a short time only
- Act now – offer expires August 31st
- Get a free e-book by joining our newsletter NOW. Click here!
Don’t overdo it as you might come across as being cheesy, but being too conservative won’t produce strong marketing results. You need to find a balance.
In previous marketing articles (1,2,3) I discussed two apparently contradictory elements of web marketing. First, your site visitors are blindingly impatient. And in an apparent contradiction will read relevant content at great length. So if success means giving the user exactly what they want on their terms, and they are willing to read 50 pages or watch a 30 minute infomercial depending on their interest, exactly when do we ask for their business on the web?
The answer of when to use a call to action on your web site comes in two parts:
- Provide a clear call to action at the end of every topic
- Provide calls to action constantly throughout the site
Provide a clear call to action at the end of every topic
Provide a clear call to action at the end of every topic. Perhaps it comes in the form of a question at the bottom of the page such as “Contact us about xyz topic now! Or call us now at (713) 555-1212.” And link the text to your web site contact form.
If your web site’s software supports it, you can also customize the call to action at the end of the page based on the visitor. For example, a specific web page on our site (www.schipul.com) might close with “Contact us for web design”. But if we know the visitor arrived on the site from a search engine, and that they used the search term “marketing web design”, we can change the prompt to say “Call now for a free marketing web design consultation” or similar. The more on message we are, the higher the conversion rate from visitor to contact.
Provide opportunistic calls to action throughout the site
Use non-invasive “calls to action” on every page because you need to be ready to respond at the moment your customer is ready to move forward. And when I say “moment”, I mean the exact nanosecond your visitor is considering trusting you enough to move forward with the relationship.
Do *not* use pop-ups or pop-overs unless the user specifically realizes they are clicking a link which will generate a pop-up. Be honest, we all think pop-ups are rude. So my recommendation is that you do not associate them with your brand. On a similar note, avoid systems that automatically e-mail visitors that have not contacted you through a contact form, as this simply trains them to never return to your site. An automatic reply to a contact form is of course fine.
Non-invasive “calls to action” can take the form of emotional action oriented copy urging one of the following:
- Ask your visitor to call you and provide a legible phone number (Hint: Use numbers because nobody likes to translate those letters into numbers on their cell phone). If you don’t have DID (Direct Inbound Dial) then give them additional information such as “dial 0 and ask for Mary” or similar. Be explicit on what they can expect on the phone call or you will lose them in your company’s voice mail hell.
- Provide a link to another page with more information. They may not be ready to buy yet, but an action that keeps them interested in your brand is definitely better than no “call to action” at all.
- Use a mini contact form and a link to a full contact form. Resist the urge to request your visitor’s life history because minimal information is far superior to no information and you are trying to build a trusting relationship that will lead to a sale. (Note: Some of our marketing tests have resulted in a 60-80% increase in response rate through the use of non-invasive mini-contact forms on every page!)
Call to Action Summary
Use a clear “call to action” at the end of every page on your web site and interspersed in the copy. Build trust and a professional image through your web site, but don’t neglect to tell your site visitor exactly what you want them to do.