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Crafting your calls to action

So… calls to action. The aspect of a web page where all that hard work can be thrown away. There are two parts to any call to action: what you’re offering, and what the respondent needs to do. Many people get one wrong, but in my experience, even more get both wrong.

If I don’t know what I’m going to get by responding, I’m not going to ask for it. One huge mistake is to make the vague offer “to find out more”. This is an absolute killer. As a prospect, I have no idea what “finding out more” means. Am I going to be taken to another web page? Emailed something? Sent details of the company’s showroom so I can come along and “find out more”? Am I giving permission for a salesperson to turn up on my doorstep tomorrow?

Specify exactly what responders are going to get. Give them a choice if you wish. Offers which I’d be prepared to respond to include “email me the brochure”, “call me”, or even “get a salesman to visit me”. Just make it clear.

Then we get to the response mechanism. Some people want to phone you to respond to the offer. Some want to email you. Some will be happy to fill in a form. So give them the choice. Don’t insist they do things your way.

And if you do use a form, fight against those epic forms which most sales directors insist on. It’s not so much that over-long forms are a chore to fill in (although that will probably cause a few people to drop out). It’s the inherent worry about what all this information is needed for. If I’m asking for a sales call, all you need from me is my name and telephone number. That’s a fact. If I rang you out of hours, left a message saying “please call (my name) on (my number) because I’d like to arrange a sales meeting”, you would return my call straight away. You wouldn’t think: “I only call people back if I know which industry they’re in and have their postal address”. Any other information is for your dubious benefit, not mine as the prospective customer.

The fact is, if you ask for any more information than what’s necessary to fulfil what you’re offering, people start to get suspicious of what you’re going to do with the data. And rightly so, because most companies then start spamming the heck out of them, by telephone, email and post. We’ve all had enough of that. If you’re really confident, your stripped-down form will also reassure the responder that their information won’t be used for anything else.

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