Aug 10, 2010

Improve Your Website in 5 Steps: A better call to action

Quite often when creating site content a lot of craft and care goes into your copy. Then we simply hope the user will follow the copy to our desired action with a “Click Here” or “Sign Up”. How can you strengthen this call to action? You must persuade the user to follow the set of steps you want them to. It is a difficult craft to master. After all, what is my incentive to sign up, click here, or register?

eatAtJoes

It all starts a little higher up

Your copy plays a large role in how effective your call to action is. Your copy should explain the point of your product or service quickly. People want to scan and understand. Make sure you explain your offer or incentive clearly – if the user is interested they will want to be clear before taking action. Make sure you use simple words and actionable phrases that remove any objection a user may have. Leave them with no option and in a clear path to take action. It may help you to create bullet points, as this always appears as actionable items, like a to do list.

Keep your sentences longer and your paragraphs shorter. Highlight keywords to help them stick out and with the user. It will help the reader scan and detect what information they find most useful to taking action. Remember that each user will be different, but you can craft a personal message. Try to picture your audience, but speak to the individual. Asking yourself some simple questions about your audience can tell you a lot about the individual.

  • Are they familar with your company?
  • Do they use the internet often?
  • Is this a new product or service, will they be familiar with it?
  • Will they be familiar with the type of incentive?
  • Are they familar with your industry?

It may seem like answering yes to those questions makes writing the copy easier. But the no’s help you just as much. It gives you a road map for just how much information to give the user. If the answers are yes, you are likely to get away with less information about your product or service on the page, or information about your company or industry. If there are more no’s, then more information will be useful as the user doesn’t want to explore your whole site for more information. Remember: give the user no objection to taking action.

Are you selling them on taking action?

At the end of the day we are all here to make money. Your point of action may be to sell a product or service, but in reality you have to sell them on taking action first. Create an atmosphere of action – people are in a hurry, so make your action noticeable, short, and visually clear.

How to be noticed

Placing your call to action is important. You want to be near related content and placed on the page where the user will see it immediately upon page load and perhaps a little scrolling. Remember that most users will read a bit before taking action. So, where do you put this? This is going to be the fuzziest part of the process. There is no right answer, instead it will depend upon your page layout and things like the user’s window size. Look at your overall layout and identify an area that has prime location based on your copy. Some A/B testing can definitely come in handy for this. Here are some handy tips:

  • People read in a “F” shape, across, then down and scan across, and down some more.
    • Use this to lead the reader’s eye to your call to action.
  • People identify contrast with importance.
    • Use difference in color or shape to draw the eye to action.
  • Imagery only helps as an enhancement.
    • Your action must be clear without the aid of visuals.

Keeping it simple

Your call to action should be short. Aim for five words. If you think it can’t be shortened without losing emphasis, have another set of eyes take a look at it. There is always the option to A/B test two messages. But, how engaging can you be with five words?

Use some things people enjoy to your advantage.

  • Be popular, people see success in numbers.
    • “Over one billion served.”
  • Provide a safety net, everyone loves a guarantee.
    • “Money back guarantee, you will love our product.”
  • Just ask, your user will answer honestly.
    • “Does your golf game need improvement?”
  • Be unique, are you an orignal? Showcase it.
    • “No other TV has better color reproduction.”
  • New, New, New. People love the next big thing.
    • “Introducing the latest technology to save you MPG’s”
  • People can handle the truth, in fact they love facts.
    • “Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States.”
  • Use humor.
    • “Let’s get the conversation flowing about our plumbing systems.”
  • Give a command.
    • “You should follow us for great news”

Being clear

Making sure that your text is easy to understand and actionable is important. But presenting it is just as important. Creating whitespace around the area is valuable and creates that important contrast. Using colored links or creating a button shape are also great. Using an icon or associated imagery is great if it enhances the message, rather than creating confusion or distraction.  Keep it visually engaging, rather than visually interesting. We want the user to take action. Provide them with the clear path to do so.

If you find that your call to action is lacking try adding to it. The additional length may help you.

Let’s look at : “Does your golf game need improvement?”

v.s.: “Does your golf game need improvement? You should order our guide!”

The additional call to action can strengthen the original. Using A/B testing here again can help you create the perfect storm of action. Testing can help you find the best performing set of copy and action requests, and the investment in testing will reward you greatly.

If you have any questions on creating a stronger call to action, you should get in touch with us!

2 thoughts on “Improve Your Website in 5 Steps: A better call to action”

  1. Great thoughts on calls to action! I’m a little surprised that A/B testing isn’t featured more prominently in this post, since it’s probably the single most powerful tool in determining the effectiveness of a particular call to action. Smart businesses should *always* be testing!

    Pete
    Optimizely, Inc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>