You know what a call to action is. You probably heard several on the TV today. “Order now and we’ll double your order.” Create a strong call to action! “Call know. Operators are standing by.” These are calls to action. Not good ones, but you get the idea.
- 1 The Two Purposes of a Call to Action
- 2 For a Limited Time Only
- 3 Encourage the MDA
- 4 Describe How to Perform the Call To Action
- 5 Would you rather:
- 6 Action Words
- 7 Create Several Calls to Action
- 8 Create Urgency
- 9 The Best Place to Put a Call to Action
- 10 Make it Simple
- 11 Don’t Overlook the Contact Page
- 12 Guide Your Visitors
- 13 Straight Up Call to Action
The Two Purposes of a Call to Action
There two purposes of a well-written call to action are:
- to encourage the site visitor to perform the most desired action (MDA), i.e. buy something, pick up the telephone and call you, opt in, etc.)
- to instruct the prospect on how to perform the MDA.
For a Limited Time Only
Accomplish these two steps and you’ve created a good call to action.
Encourage the MDA
A call to action should be short and sweet, not a complete resell. Briefly describe the service or product the prospect is buying, quickly list the benefits of performing the MDA and define any extra pieces of information like, “We protect your privacy and will never sell your email address to others.” This kind of reassurance may not appear elsewhere in site text so this is a good place to discuss privacy, terms of service and other bits of business.
Describe How to Perform the Call To Action
Not only describe what steps the site visitor should take, also describe what will happen when the visitor does take the steps.
For example, let’s say your MDA is to collect opt-in email addresses. This requires a double opt-in. The visitor first must opt in on site. This generates an email to the visitor’s email client. This is called an auto-responder since it’s sent automatically by your system.
The visitor must then open her email client, find your auto-responder and click on a link, thus opting in twice, or the double opt-in. Explain this in your call to action:
Please provide your email address. We’ll send a conformation email to the address you provide. Simply click on the APPROVE link and you’ll be returned to our site automatically, at which point you can take full advantages of our services and information.
Many people are NOT tech-savvy. Older computer users, for example, may become confused (or curious) why the double opt-in. Well, it ensures that the prospect really wants to perform the MDA. And you’re sure that the email address given by the opt in is legit.
Use Action Words In Your Call to Action (Makes sense, doesn’t it?)
Would you rather:
- Learn the secrets of micro-cap investing or
- Discover the secrets of micro-cap investing?
“Learn” is boring. It sounds like work – homework. “Discover,” on the other hand, sounds exciting and even adventurous. Small, subliminal changes in the wording of a call to action will make a big difference in your conversion ratios – the rate at which you convert site visitors to buyers or clients or customers or subscribers.
Some action words to add a little zip to your writing in general, and especially to the call to action:
- start over
There are thousands of good action words – words that motivate and inspire. So, after you’ve written your call to action, begin to swap out boring words and substitute words that compel (a good action word) the site visitor to perform the MDA.
Create Several Calls to Action
The MDA may change as visitors move through your site. In fact, it often does. So…
…if a visitor lands on the site’s home page, the call to action might encourage the visitor to explore all of the wonderful features on your site – products, free information, a monthly newsletter, an eBook download FREE. This call to action isn’t intended to encourage the visitor to perform the MDA. The call to action on the home page is designed to pull the visitor deeper into the site, to stay on site longer and to view more pages of your site to discover the value your products or services delivered.
Note: The longer a visitor stays on site, the better. The more page views the better. This, alone, encourages the performance of the MDA with greater frequency.
When writing product or service descriptions, end with a simple “Call now.” “Order Today” or “Guaranteed Satisfaction.” If a visitor is reading a product description, that little push might be all that’s required to add a product to the shopping cart.
And speaking of shopping carts, explain them. Use buttons labeled “Add to Cart” for example. Again, the call to action not only encourages the visitor to perform the MDA, it provides instructions on HOW to perform the MDA.
A good call to action often creates urgency: “Today Only,” “For a Limited Time,” “The first 10 sign-ups receive a 20% discount.” All of these types of “limited time only” references create a sense of urgency on the part of the visitor and cause more conversions because “If I don’t do it now, I lose out.”
Sales of the day, sales of the week and other special offers, like bundles, are another means of enticing the visitor to perform the MDA so change your offerings frequently. This not only encourages more visitors to sign up or make a purchase, it also creates site stickiness – a reason to return to the site. So, a visitor may not make a purchase on Wednesday but may buy next Thursday’s daily special.
This approach is often used by electronics stores and computer makers. For example, Hewlett-Packard sends out regular emails announcing specials to its “special customers” – people who have bought from HP in the past. These regular announcements almost always add incentives to encourage recipients of these marketing e-mails to click on a link and visit the HP site. Dell, Best Buy, Overstock, Amazon and other successful sites use this tactic to create the feeling of urgency.
BUY NOW or MISS OUT!
The Best Place to Put a Call to Action
It’s the “Contact Us” page – a site page that’s often overlooked by site owners and even professional web copy writers as a sell page, but think about it. If a visitor clicks on the “Contact Us” page, you’re half-way to the performance of the MDA. The visitor wants to contact you.
So, even though these pages aren’t indexed by search engines (even Google has limited resources), the “Contact Us” page is the ideal position for a strong call to action.
Make it Simple
Make it simple to perform the MDA using information on this critical web site page. Provide a telephone number, an email link, an email module that enables the visitor to type in a short message or question and, of course, this is where to place your opt-in module.
Don’t Overlook the Contact Page
Don’t overlook the “Contact” page as a final opportunity to give the visitor that little verbal shove. If your products or services are guaranteed, say so. If shipping is free, spell it out. However, always keep the needs of the site visitor in mind, not your needs.
After all, the site visitor is your target demographic and often, all he needs is a little reassurance, a little confidence or piqued curiosity to perform the MDA. And these are the people who will buy your products, services or message.
Guide Your Visitors
Use calls to action throughout the site to guide visitors to where you want them to go. Embed text links in calls to action to simplify the performance of the MDA.
Finally, know when to stop selling. Your calls to action should be a few sentences – tops! Any more and it starts to sound like hype. A call to action is designed to encourage visitors to do what you want them to do and to tell them how to do it.
Straight Up Call to Action
Discover the benefits of a solid, straight-up call to action and see your site traffic increase, your bounce rate decline and the performance of the MDA with greater frequency.
Now that’s a good call to action.