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Call to Action Wording Best Practices

This post was originally posted on 4/19/11. Updated on 8/28/2014. 

You may have heard that it's important to have a "call to action" on your website. That's the big button or link meant to get visitors to complete a "goal" such as fill out a contact form or make a purchase. When properly designed and placed on a page, a call to action can have a tremendously positive impact on your business. And most website owners appear to have understood this concept.

What is often overlooked is its wording. In many cases, the call to action is two steps ahead of the visitor. Instead of clicking it, visitors will look around for the next best option on your Web page. This is not necessarily a terrible thing, but you are missing out on the main benefit of having an effective call to action: visitors don’t have to think very hard about what to do next.

Common Mistake

You are a professional services company and have determined that you want your website visitors to come to your website and request a consultation through your online form.  Without a second thought, you make your primary call to action on your home page “Request a Consultation”. You do some click-tracking analysis and find that no one appears to be clicking on your beautifully designed call to action.

Diagnosis

You are failing to realize that most first-time visitors to your website need to know more about your services, your case studies, and be able to trust you in the first-place before starting up a conversation with you. In other words, you are jumping the gun. Before writing your call to action, do a little thinking. Consider what it is about your business that visitors need to know before being able to make a decision on whether or not to request a consultation. What is question #1, #2, and possibly, #3 in their minds?

Are your visitors ignoring your calls-to-action?

Use your website analytics to find out what pages people visit just before requesting a consultation. Your visitors will implicitly tell you what information they’d like to see before they are ready to fill-out your form by visiting specific pages. Another great source of this information are the qualifiers on your sales team. They surely have a list of questions that callers have when they contact your company, as well as the best responses.

Solution #1

Once you know what questions you need to answer, direct your visitors to a page that answers one or all of those questions. In a case like this, your home page call to action should be something along the lines of “See our Case Studies & Clients”, “Browse our Services”, or “See our Portfolio”. On the subsequent page, you can feature your call to action that says “Request a Consultation”. Hopefully you will have answered your visitor’s questions by then and they are ready to contact you.

Solution #2

Another option you can consider is to place whatever content your customers are looking for right on your home page. After all, there is no rule about making your home page a certain size or having to feature only little bits of information. The purpose of your website is to sell, no? If you can provide your visitors with the goods they need before contacting you, then why not do it in the most efficient way possible?

Rather than having them go to another page for the information, provide it to them on a platter, as soon as they visit your website. This method would permit you to feature your call to action that says “Request a Consultation” right off-the-bat, since you are providing all the information necessary for making that decision on the page the visitor is landing on.

Additional Considerations

Here are a few other factors to consider when reviewing your website’s call to action:

  • Microcopy: Is there a common, yet crucial question that might come up before a visitor clicks on “Request a Consultation”? A couple examples might be “How long will I have to wait until I get a response?” or “What does that entail?” Microcopy can be used to answer these crucial questions. It is text that is placed just below or right next to your call to action and provides that last bit of info to ease the mind of your visitor.
  • Traffic Segmentation: Not all of your website visitors are the same. Some are coming to your website for the first time while others have been there already and have come back to contact you. There are those visitors who typed in your name or your service to find you on Google, others came from Facebook, while others saw your banner advertisement. Each of these traffic sources must be looked at independently before coming to any conclusions on what your website visitors do and don’t like about your call to action. For starters, you should be filtering out your own IP address at work and at home, as well as those of your colleagues. Then, as an example, look at traffic coming from just search engines, with keywords that do not contain your brand name. Typically, these are visitors who do not know about you yet, but who are looking for your services/products. Pay special attention to these visitors since they are essentially the equivalent of new prospects walking in and out of your office. (Ideally, you should create landing pages for each of your services and service categories as well as for various sources of traffic. That way, you can easily segment your traffic by visitor role and customize your calls-to-action for each of them.)
  • Social Media Influence: Build the reputation of your company through social media. Ask your Facebook fans to rate how their experience with your company was. Research and create a hashtag (that no one else is using) on Twitter. Incorporate it in your Twitter or Instagram posts and encourage your followers to use it too. Create a Yelp account and ask for ratings. The goal of this is to get your established clients to do the advertising for your company themselves. They can help sway first time users or prospective clients and can be the final nudge they need to click and fill out your call to action.
  • Branding Initiatives: Say you’ve been running a ton of TV commercials as well as subway ads. Don’t be surprised if your over-ambitious call to action, the one sending people straight to your Web form is working perfectly fine. That’s because most of your visitors have already decided that they wish to contact your company because your advertising has been effective at answering their questions. Once again, this is an example of the need to segment your traffic. You should be sending your advertising traffic to a separate page or URL so as to customize their experience.
  • Prove your Expertise: Be it through social media, blogging, instructional videos, or downloadable whitepapers, offer a tidbit of your services for free or be a resource of valuable industry information. With blogging or instructional videos you are more likely to gain some inbound links from high ranking websites. When offering your free whitepaper, ask for their name, company, and email address in return. You will receive the contact information of prospective clients that you can reach out to in email campaigns later. What better way to reach future clients than to offer something initially in exchange for their business later on down the road?
  • Testing: Don’t simply rewrite your call to action and launch it. Find out if your hypothesis about whether or not your call to action wording should be changed by conducting A/B testing. You can do this for free using Google Website Optimizer. It requires very little work and can give you clear answers. I recommend doing this for any changes you make to your website.

A good user interface and design is going to make your call to action be very prominent on your page. But without proper planning and consideration for your users, it will be ineffective at accomplishing your business goals.

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