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