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Anita Campbell

CEO of Small Business Trends

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Why an Effective Call-to-Action is Crucial for Your Website

September 23, 2014

In a study that my company conducted with another firm, the majority of small business website pages were found to lack an effective call to action.

So, you're getting a brand-new website. Congratulations! Perhaps this one replaces that old site that you kept apologizing for.

Your new site looks great. Let’s check out some of the improvements you made:

  • It has a brand-spanking-new responsive website design that adjusts the width and display attributes for the device the visitor happens to be using (smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer). Check.
  • It is faster than your old site, downloading seconds faster and not forcing the visitor to watch water boil as the images slowly appear on the page. Check.
  • It’s got your hours of operation and address, so that people who plan to stop in don’t have to call the receptionist for basic information. Check.

Sounds great. Oh, but it looks like something is missing. It’s something that a lot of small business websites overlook. That something is a strong call to action on various pages.

In a study that my company conducted with another firm, the majority of small business website pages were found to lack an effective call to action. Marketers reading this are probably yawning right about now, because they're trained to see and think about calls to action. But entrepreneurs and small-business owners without marketing backgrounds don’t think in terms of calls to action or landing pages. So don’t feel bad if a call to action is something new to you. Let’s define it:

“A call to action is anything that you want visitors to do; a call to action drives people to take action. It could mean buying something from your e-commerce store, downloading a white paper, signing up for a webinar, or subscribing to your newsletter. Those are by no means the only calls to action; they are just examples of some of the more common ones.”

Typically, a call to action takes the form of a button or link for people to click. That click often drives people to a landing page or transaction page where visitors fill out a form to subscribe or sign up, or otherwise take action.

The concept behind a call to action is to capture more of the visitor’s attention before he or she flits off to another website. Before visitors get away, it would be nice to have a means for ongoing contact with them, wouldn’t it? If those visitors complete a form and voluntarily give you an email address because they want to view that webinar or receive that free e-book download, you now have a connection with those visitors.

It’s more than slapping up buttons and links on pages. This is where the “effective” part comes into play:

  • First, you don’t want just random calls to action. Think about your sales funnel and how you develop leads in your business. Your calls to action should be designed to capture leads of people who someday may become customers – those people who are potentially interested in whatever you sell in your business. That email address is what starts the process of filling the early stages of what they call the sales funnel (i.e., how you bring in sales prospects and “funnel” them toward a sale).
  • Second, your call to action must be designed and placed in such a way that it actually encourages people to do something. It’s important to place a call to action above the scroll (usually) on your website, make the link or button prominent (large enough and obvious enough to be found easily), and use clear language to describe the action that you want them to take (so the benefit of clicking is obvious and enticing to visitors).

When a call to action is effective, you will get more people following through and taking action. Then your website becomes an integral part of your sales process to drive revenue. What could be better than that?

This article originally appeared on www.inc.com/comcast.

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