One of the easiest but often overlooked ways to increase your website’s effectiveness is by explicitly asking your visitors to take action.
The problem is that, despite good content and a steady flow of traffic, you get very few new customers or supporters from your website. You make a great case for your qualifications, but don’t close the deal with a clear call to action (such as “Request a Consultation Today”).
If you aren’t specifically asking your visitors to take an action, don’t be disappointed when they don’t.
You might be asking why we don’t just let them find our contact info on the contact page. You could, but that leaves your potential client to determine 1) Whether you are actually accepting new clients and 2) If so, whether to call, email, visit in person, or fill out a form in order to contact you.
Those are small but important barriers. They require your users to use brainpower to make decisions, which creates an opening to get distracted, to procrastinate, or to move on to the next search result on Google.
Make it easy for your users to do what you want them to do. Remove any dilemmas and anticipate their potential hesitations.
Don’t Leave Your Audience Hanging
David Sizemore, a designer I collaborated with, once described it this way: if you give a speech to a group of professionals, you could simply walk away at the end. If somebody in the audience really wanted to find you, they could probably track you down.
But you’ll get a lot more engagement if you end with something like, “I’d love to keep this conversation going, so you can find me over in that corner if you have questions or comments you’d like to discuss.”
If you invite people to take action and make it clear how to do it, you’ll get far better engagement than simply leaving it up to users to figure out.
How to Create an Effective Call to Action
- Make sure every page has a call to action that leads users to a next logical step (e.g. “Contact Us” or “View Our Portfolio”)
- Make the call to action visually stand out—usually ample whitespace, large text, and a bold button do the trick
- Make the text as short as possible. A headline with 2-12 words will be much more effective than a wordy request.
- Include a button that leads to the action you’re asking users to take.
- Be consistent across your website. Every call to action across your site does not need to be identical, but they should all work towards the same defined goal.
Design for the harder to reach customer
Don’t design your site for people that are already sold on your services and just coming to your site to get your phone number. They’ll be your customers as long as you don’t turn them off. The difficult, but rewarding effort, is to focus on the potential customer that is going to look at your site and 6 other competitors within 10 minutes.
They are overwhelmed about how to make a good choice. They aren’t reading through 10 site pages to learn about every aspect of your business and services. They’re quickly scrolling down the home page looking for clues whether to go further or hit the back button.
It’s these users that are attracted to clear, easy to follow call to actions.
Visit your site and evaluate how clearly you invite your users to take action. Make sure you have strong calls to action that 1) stand out visually, 2) invite concrete action, and 3) make that action as simple as clicking a button.
Make sure you’re tracking your site with Google Analytics so you can measure the effectiveness of your optimized call to actions.
Finally, don’t stop with your website. The same principals apply to mass emails, social media marketing, and blog posts. Every marketing medium you use should invite readers/users to take simple, concrete actions.