Thursday, February 03, 2005

Increasing Responses With An Effective Call To Action

Web sites are very much like traditional direct marketing in many ways. One of those ways is that the call to action is important.

What is a call to action?

A call to action is a set of words that tells your visitors what you want them to do. It should be short and to the point, telling them specifically what you want

them to do. Examples of calls to action are:

Click Here
Buy Now
Sign Up
Call Today
Call Now

Another way to put it is, when a visitor is ready to do something, provide a convient way for them to do it.

The call to action goes hand-in-hand with an offer. The offer describes to the visitor what they can get. For example, let's say you have a web page with a

picture of a computer and text that says, "J-Vox 1655X 300ghz Computer". There is no offer and no call to action. Someone looking at that page doesn't

know what to do.

Let's say we add the following to the text, "Buy this computer for just $199.95." The page now has an offer, we are offering this computer for $199.95. But,

how do I take advantage of this great deal? We need a call to action.

We could add a phone number, "1-800-555-555". So you see the offer and you see the phone number. You could assume you are supposed to this

number, and since it's a free call, most people might do that. But the following is much more effective, "Call 1-800-555-555 TODAY!". It tells visitors what

to day, and that they need to do it today. That's a good call to action.

To give it more urgency, sometimes a call to action will include a limited time offer, "Call 1-800-555-5555 TODAY! This offer expires February 30th!"

Of course, the above is a limited time offer that never expires because Feb. 30th never comes. Don't do this. The FTC frowns on deception.

In some cases it may be appropriate for a call to action be in the form of a question, "Why not order two today?" Be careful with using questions, however. While there are some circumstances in which a question will work well, action oriented statements, such as "Call today!" are almost always more effective.

Where should you put a call to action? Any place a visitor might decide to take action--which means on every page. Don't be bashful. And don't hide the call to action in your menus. Make it easy to see. For example, after discussing a topic put a call to action related to that topic immediately under the concluding paragraph.

Never use pop-ups or pop-unders for a call to action. People don't like them, and you'll lose customers.

Finally, be sure the call to action matches the message. If the page/offer is talking about environmentalism, the call to action should be related to environmentalism. Don't try to sell computers with a call to action that says, "Save the environment. Call to Buy Now!", unless on that page you have told the visitor this computer is environmentally friendly.


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