As small businesses or nonprofits with websites, we spend time trying to figure out how to use our websites to gain greater exposure. Yet so many of us don’t think about what people should do when they find our websites. This means that our work in getting people to our sites is for naught—especially if we never hear from or otherwise interact with those people.
What I’m talking about is a call to action, and according to SCORE, 70 percent of American small business websites in 2014 didn’t have calls to action.
So what is a call to action?
Simply put, a call to action is something on your website, usually a link, that directs site visitors to do something more than just consume your site content. Some examples include:
- buying a product
- subscribing to an email newsletter
- making an appointment
- calling or emailing your office
- donating funds
- downloading content, such as a whitepaper or ebook
The idea is that you want to encourage site visitors to take this action. Not only can they result in direct or future sales, they can also result in lead generation—and now you have some contact information for follow up.
How do you make a call to action?
A call to action is actually simple to make but can take a while to master. First, you will probably need to create what’s called a conversion page. If you’re selling products online, chances are you already have these. For an ecommerce website, conversion pages would be individual product pages that try to convince the customer to buy the product by providing pertinent information. A conversion page for a nonprofit organization may be a page where someone makes a donation or signs up to volunteer. A newsletter subscription form would also a great example.
Effective conversion pages share a few common characteristics:
- They contain few, if any, distractions so that your visitor will complete the action.
- They contain compelling content (text and/or images) that help “seal the deal.”
- They are often brief and to the point.
After you have a conversion page, the other piece of a successful call to action is the link or button itself. Often, this is found on most of the rest of your website pages so that it’s clear to your site visitors what they should do. In general, you don’t want to annoy your visitors by making these intrusive, but you do want to make them hard to miss.
Great call-to-action buttons or links are often:
- started with a strong verb, e.g., “buy,” “subscribe,” or “download”
- easy to understand
- large and easy to see
- short in text
- in a contrasting color
Don’t stop your website work on trying to find new site visitors. Make sure that when new visitors find your website that they use your calls to action—that way, you can turn them from visitors into customers!