Calls to Action: Are You Doing Enough to Make the Sale?


You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

— Anonymous, Overused Proverb

Nothing happens until somebody sells something.

— Arthur “Red” Motley

Many site owners pour time, money and energy into search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising to bring more visitors to their site.

Unfortunately, they welcome this targeted, qualified traffic to a Web site that offers mediocre copywriting, confusing navigation, and no clear directions for the prospect. The prospect–unable to find her way without a dowsing rod–leaves the site frustrated, never to return.

The mistake that many site owners make is believing the site visitor knows what’s expected of her. That she’s arrived because she is ready to buy a signature pottery piece, or make an appointment for a Botox injection, or subscribe to a newsletter.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many of us use Web sites to gather information to make an informed decision. In other words, we want to be sold. We want to get excited about your product or service, because we’re going to have to trade away something to acquire it…it might be money, or time, or just the freedom of choosing something else, but every transaction requires a loss. Good, persuasive copywriting will get people to focus on what they’re gaining and not what they are giving up.

However, the sale doesn’t end there. This is where calls to action come in.

A call to action is a request for the user to do something. It might be to click on a link, fill out a form, join a newsletter, or add a product to her shopping basket. It should appear at the bottom of just about every page on your Web site.

A call to action answers the unasked question, “That’s interesting. Now what?” Even if visitors are motivated by your copy, you need to give them clear instructions on taking the next step. Otherwise, that next step might be backing up to Google’s search results page to click on the link after yours.

Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were a kid? At the end a page it would say, “If you want to go down the trap door go to page 37. If you want to turn around and face the witch go to page 42.” The reader’s choices are explained clearly. How successful would the series have been if they didn’t include those directions?

What should your call to action say? This all depends on what your business goals are and how you want your Web site to support these goals. (You’ve clearly defined those two items, right?) Different pages may serve different purposes, so you’ll need to be specific when crafting these links. Here are some possible examples:

  • Learn more about how safe laser eye surgery can be.
  • Get more information on how our affordable log cabins can become your second home!
  • Sign up for our newsletter and get tips on keeping monthly heating bills down.
  • Contact us for a free home security review.

When crafting your calls to action keep the following tips in mind:

  • Link or underline the unique, offer-specific words as opposed to “click here” or “learn more.” That way, your most important words will stand out. Also, since search engines often give linked words more importance, you’ll be optimizing your site for your keyphrases, such as “laser eye surgery” or “affordable log cabins.”
  • Not every call-to-action needs to make a sale. Itcould ask someone to register for a newsletter, review a portfolio, or enter a raffle. There are often several steps to the sale, and baby steps might be what’s called for.
  • Although you should always end a page with a call to action, there’s no need to wait that long. An old sales technique is to continually ask for the sale. While you don’t want to come across as pushy, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to connect with your visitor, either.

The point of the call-to-action is to help your prospects navigate your site successfully, to have a positive experience with your company, and to bring them closer to a point where you can help them. They are the sign posts of your Web site.

Review your Web site today and see if there are missed opportunities where visitors might be leaving your site.

If you’d like help keeping visitors on your site and writing persuasive calls to action, please contact us.

–Rich Brooks

President, flyte new media

MHHRA: Massachusetts Healthcare Human Resources Association

MhhraYesterday afternoon flyte launched a new site for MHHRA, the Massachusetts Healthcare Human Resources Association.

The site provides information on programs and resources for MHHRA members. There’s also a password-protected member area where members can view a searchable directory of MHHRA members.

We built an admin system so that MHHRA administrators could easily update the membership directory with the click of a button. (Well, maybe two clicks.)

Flyte also designed an HTML newsletter to replace their print newsletter, saving MHHRA about $10,000 a year. (Sweet!)

Flyte also implemented a PayPal solution for MHHRA. Now members can renew online, and both members and non-members can register and pay for programs put on by the MHHRA.

If your organization has similar needs, please contact flyte new media.

Rich Brooks
Helping Associations Grow Online

Entrepreneurial Resources

This is advice that some people will say, "well, duh," while others will be surprised.

If you’re running your own business (or planning to) and you’re not subscribing to Inc. magazine you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Until I started reading it, I assume it was something like Fortune, a magazine for rich people looking to get richer. Instead, every month there’s articles on how to deal with hiring, firing, business strategies, etc. There’s never been a month where it wasn’t worth ten (or one hundred) times the cover price.

Another magazine I find helpful to the entrepreneur, although less surprising due to it’s name, is Entrepreneur. And as long as we’re talking about entrepreneurial and small business resources, have you checked out

Well, have you?

Rich Brooks

Addvance: Answers to Your Questions About ADD (ADHD)

AddvanceWe launched today, the revamped e-commerce site for Advance Books. Run by Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. and Patricia Quinn, M.D., this site is an amazing resource for anyone searching for information for themselves or a loved one who struggles with ADD (ADHD).

You can read free articles online, or buy books and article collections through their online store. You can also sign up for their free email newsletter: ADDvice for ADD-Friendly Living.

Flyte had previously worked with Drs. Nadeau & Quinn on another of their projects, NCGI: the National Center for Gender Issues and AD/HD, a membership-driven organization focusing on the unique impact of ADD (ADHD) on females.

Rich Brooks
Launcher of All Things ADD (ADHD) Related

A Letter from Network Solutions

Over the past week a number of clients have written, asking me to interpret the letter they received from Network Solutions. It starts off:

Dear [Insert Name Here],

Our records show that your account information is either incomplete or out of date.

I’m not sure that this is true in every case, but it’s not a bad idea to login to your account at Network Solutions (or any other registrar, for that matter,) and confirm that the information they have on you is correct.

The first thing you’ll need is your username or ID, and your password.

If you don’t know your user id it may be at the top right of your letter. However, I have seen cases where that info was incorrect. If it is incorrect, that’s something you can get from Network Solutions’ customer support number: 1-888-642-9675

If you don’t have your password you can have it automatically sent to the email on file. How do you know what email is on file? You can call customer support or look it up doing a "whois."

Unable to access that email because you haven’t used it in over 5 years? Get on the phone with customer support. Sometimes they can call you back on the phone number on the account to make sure you are the account holder. If that fails, there’s a much longer fax process which customer service can walk you through.

When you finish all this and get your username and password, the first thing you should do is write them down! Next, log into your account and make sure all the information is up to date.

Rich Brooks,
Your Beatrice in This Ring of Hell

Fluid vs. Fixed Web Sites: What’s Right For You?


There are a lot of choices to make when developing a Web site. Some are obvious, like what content to keep and what to cut, or whether to offer e-commerce. However, the ramifications of some choices don’t become evident until after the site has been built.

One question that we ask as part of our Design Questionnaire is whether the client wants a “fluid” or “fixed” site. We also offer two additional choices: “Doesn’t Matter” and “Huh?”

The decision at this point will greatly influence the site design and the Information Architecture (how the information on the page is arranged.) Despite the importance of this choice, it’s often misunderstood by business owners until it’s too late. I’m here to clear up that confusion.

Fluid vs. fixed refers to whether your Web page will “stretch” or stay “fixed” as the width of a browser window changes. When you send out a postcard to a thousand prospects, you know that the dimensions of each card, say 4″ x 6″, will be identical no matter who receives it.

When you distribute information over the Web, things get trickier. Monitors range from 12″ – 23″ and up. Even people who have identical monitors may see differences depending on:

  • their screen resolution
  • their operating system
  • their choice of browsers
  • whether their browser window is “maximized”
  • the size and presence of their toolbar, status bar, address
    bar and favorites bar
  • a number of other variables.

Fluid Pages

A fluid page will flow to the confines of the browser window. This means paragraphs will rewrap as the browser window is resized.

Many people believe fluid pages look better on a wider variety of browsers because they are more “accommodating.” A truly fluid site is considered to be more “accessible” due to its ability to fit into any type of browser window, even a handheld device. However, these truly fluid sites give up almost all control over design and layout due to their nature.

Fixed Pages

A fixed page, on the other hand, will stay the same width and float on the background regardless of the size of the monitor. You can see an example at the Dish Diva’s site, which flyte designed. For example, if you have designed a fixed site to be 740 pixels wide, it will appear that wide on an 800 pixel-wide browser window or a 2,000 pixel-wide browser window. The difference will be in the background color or image, which will grow or shrink to fill up the “white space.”

Imagine an 8.5″ by 11″ page on an end table. Now move that same page to a large dining room table. The size of the page hasn’t changed, but there’s a lot more background, or in this case, table space, in view. That mimics the behavior of a fixed page. Whether the page works better as left or center justified is often determined by the design of the page.

Fixed pages are great when you want complete control over the layout of your page (or as complete as the Web will afford you.) One downside is that people who visit your site with a small browser window may have to scroll left to right, as well as up and down…a frustrating browsing experience. Visitors with a large monitor may see more  background than content.

Which is right for you?

There is no right answer here. I was a big proponent of fixed width design for years, but in the past few years I’ve realized the benefits of a fluid site and redesigned flyte’s own Web site to be fluid.

When making your decision, revisit some of your favorite sites and try resizing the browser window. This may give you an idea of which site is more appropriate for your business and your audience.

If you have further questions about fixed vs. fluid Web sites, please contact us.

–Rich Brooks

President, flyte new media

flyte crew page

We wanted to do something different for our “About Our Team” page. Something more interesting than the regular assortment of professionally taken photos that populate the Web sites of most businesses.

We looked into some illustrators, but their rates were too high or they looked like what you would get at the midway next to the cotton candy stand.

So we took another tack. Check it out.

Rich Brooks
My Mother Dressed Me That Way

Paypal Emailed Me

Paypal_logoA while back, in April of 2003, I wrote a newsletter called  "PayPal: An Inexpensive E-Commerce Solution." I talked about how easy it is to use PayPal to accept credit cards online. I also mentioned one caveat: that customers needed to signup for a PayPal account to use it.

Although that changed a while back, I never updated the article.

Late last night, Dave Nielsen of PayPal emailed me to say:

RE: your comment in your April ’03 newsletter where you say "Only people who have signed up with PayPal can use the PayPal system." 

Did you know that customers no longer need to have a PayPal account to pay?

So, I’ve now updated the article. But, since I think Dave might be checking this blog, I’ll put my wish list for PayPal here:

  • Allow more customization of the PayPal checkout page so there’s a seamless integration between one’s Web site and the checkout
  • Offer built-in tools to accept more information during the buying process; I have to hire a programmer every time I want something special
  • Offer a better, more customized, shopping cart experience

I’m sure there’s more, but those are my biggies.

Rich Brooks
PayPal Merchant

Everybody Get Firefox

Firefox_1I’m already impressed.

I’ve only been playing around with Firefox 1.0, the new browser from Mozilla for a few minutes and already it’s my new favorite. It’s so much faster than Safari, which was so much faster than Internet Explorer (IE). Don’t wait! Download it now!

On top of that, it’s much safer than using IE according to experts much smarter and nerdier than me. Here’s an article on the dangers of IE at BBC online. Of course, this only affects Windows users. Mac users are generally safer, due to the security of the mac…and it’s low market share. (We don’t make as attractive a target.)

Plus, it’s got one feature that us mac users have never had in a browser before: the ability to format text in blog-like environments. Basically, I can create bold and italicized text, even links without knowing any HTML. It works like a stripped-down Word. (Admittedly, this is not a big problem for me, but is helpful for others.) In the past mac users had to type out the html code just to get this to happen in blogs.

At flyte, for a while we’ve been contemplating upgrading our pre-designed "ProSites" into more of a turnkey solution where clients could update their own sites through browsers. However, up until now we’ve held off because the technology was only available to 97% of the population. Maybe in 2005…

Rich Brooks
Firefox Enthusiast