Chapter 5: Ignition!

Calls to Action

Learning Objectives:
1. Learn what calls to action are, and why they are essential.
2. Understand some example calls to action that can be utilized on your site today.

What Are Calls to Action?

Let's revisit a basic principle of web marketing. Why have a website at all? So that it can sit there and look pretty? I hope not. You need a website for your business because you want to inspire motion of some kind. You need visitors to take action. With the right web machinery, you can spark the right action over and over again.

The specific action that you want your visitors to take is something that you, as the business owner or manager, need to determine ahead of time. What is it that you want every potential customer to do?

You may want them to do more than one thing. We recommend keeping it simple to start with. If you only give your visitors a single option that they can take, then there are fewer barriers to any action being taken. Option overload is something that is a real problem on many sites and results in frustration and bouncing.

Let's say that you have decided that you want all customers to call you. You know that once you get customers on the phone, you will be able to build rapport and get to the sale faster than by communicating through email. So how do you get users to call? It’s simple. You ask them to.

Asking the visitor to call a phone number is an exemplary call to action. It can manifest in the form of a simple button with the text 'Call Now to Learn More'. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, that is the best part about calls to action - they don't need to work on their own.

You’ve already laid the groundwork for the calls to action to work. Calls to action are the spark in your web engine. Once we have pulled people in that have some interest in what we are providing, and then primed them with our expert content, a simple 'Get in Touch' button is all you need to get them to take that all-important next step.

Just like in a jet engine, when you have pulled in air and added the proper jet fuel, it doesn't take much to send you on your way. At that point, the tiniest spark will cause an explosion that propels your engine forward.

The First 'Explosion' is the Hardest to Achieve


That first action takes some work, but once a potential customer takes that action, you have them! At that point, they have committed somewhat to what you’re selling. This happens at a subconscious level. When we take an action, like making a phone call or signing up for emails, we are making a small commitment. This may seem insignificant, and it would be, except for a human phenomenon called 'cognitive dissonance'.

Cognitive dissonance happens when our internal set of desires or beliefs are at odds. This is not a state that our subconscious likes to be in. We have a natural affinity for congruency within ourselves and our internal mental state. Cognitive dissonance is what motivates us to keep our internal story straight. It is subtle - you probably don't even notice it, but your actions speak volumes about what your subconscious is doing.

Once you commit to a cause, no matter how small the commitment, it is much easier to say yes the second time that you are asked to do something. Conversely, it is much more difficult to say no. There are ways to ethically leverage this understanding of human behavior in your web marketing. Human behavior is natural (most of the time) and having an understanding of it is essential to good website design and structuring. Your web engine is, after all, designed and built to be used by humans.

Tip: Pay attention to your own cognitive dissonance the next time you engage in an e-commerce site’s marketing. Find an ad that relates to you and run through the entire sequence that it takes you through. Look for calls to action and try to be mindful about your response to them should you dare to click.

What Are the Calls to Action I Can Use?

There are many calls to action that can be made. The limit is your imagination. Keep in mind what websites do best: transmit information from point A to point B. What are your options? What are common calls to action?

Join an Email List

An Email newsletter can be a good way to add value to a customer's life with regular, relevant information. They also reinforce your expertise and keep your services at the forefront of customer's minds either weekly, monthly, or any time period that you choose. Email can be a great way to slowly build a customer's trust over time, and to cement your brand in their mind. It’s also a great way to keep in touch after the sale.

Make a Call

If you have the resources to handle a volume of calls, this can be a great option. For a small business, a personal touch is very important. In my business, if I get a chance to build a relationship with my customers, I’m going to take it. The effectiveness of phone calls, however, depends on what you’re selling. For high volume online sales, you want to limit incoming calls and avoid unnecessary expenses. The “call us today” call to action should be used for higher end purchases that require more in-depth Q&A and attention to a customer's specific buying situation.

Submit Your Information

This is a good alternative to asking people to sign up for an email newsletter. You can do both on the same form, but this allows the potential customer to say 'sure, I would like to learn more straight from you', without saying 'sure, send me those daily, spammy emails”.

The difference is subtle, but it gives your customers a nice option. Keep in mind your customers are smart people. They may be fed up with spammy subscriptions that don't add value and will never submit their info if they think that is what they are going to get.

Sign Up For an Account

Signing up for an account makes sense if you are retaining a lot of customer data such as purchase information. It just depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are selling a service online, a trial account is an effective tool that will likely lead to extended use and eventual purchase of the service long term. If you are selling a product online and you want repeat purchases, having customers sign up for an account so their information is retained makes sense.

Start a Free Trial

This option goes hand in hand with signing up for an account. It’s very similar, but could be applied to a broader set of products and services. This is a very effective tactic for getting people onboard with very little risk. People love free. I love free. You love free. But quite often people don’t cancel after the free trial, and you earn revenue from the subscription.

Make a Purchase

This option, though often the ultimate end game action a customer can take, is still sometimes an effective initial call to action. If you are selling online products, it is perfectly acceptable to cut to the chase and say: 'this is what we are selling, want to buy it?'. It’s a straightforward approach to marketing that I think people that use the web are more and more appreciative of. This way, if they aren't interested at all, they can move on without spending valuable time.

Sign Up For a Subscription

A subscription is similar to a purchase, but even better. Subscriptions are perfect for consistent, long-term income. As long as you are providing sufficient value to a customer, you have a revenue stream. Just like the item purchase, it is perfectly acceptable to have your call to action point straight to this option.

Enhancing Calls to Action With Bait

One final point about calls to action - if you find that you need a little extra something to get people to click that button or make that call, there are ways to incentivize them.

For instance, you often see freebies given when you sign up for an email list. How many times have you signed up for an email just to get that pdf with the valuable information you want? It works. It’s a very enticing way to get people to take action, if you have the right bait. The key is understanding your audience and what they want. What information will they be hungry for that isn't already on your website? It’s even better if it’s hard to find similar information on the web.

Tip: There are lots of ways you can incentivize your calls to action. Use your imagination!

Another way to incentivize action is to use a coupon technique. Reducing the price of a purchase in some way is a great way to make people feel like they are getting a higher value.
It’s an easy decision: trade my email address for a 5% discount on this purchase that I want to make? Sure.

Calls to action are essential, simple aspects of your website that allow your customers to take specific actions that drive your machine, and ultimately bring in revenue.

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