Website Call to Action Strategy
In the past, I’ve written about the importance of having a separate call to action for each stage of the buyer’s journey. In this article, I will expand on that concept and outline how to identify a strategy for each of these calls to action.
First, I’ll summarize why you need a call to action for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Prospects typically go through three to seven distinct stages before making a purchase. Some of the more common include:
- Problem aware – I know something is wrong, but don’t know what is causing it
- Solution aware – I know what’s wrong and potential solutions
- Research – I’m researching possible solutions
- Evaluation – I’m narrowing down options to make a decision
- Decision – I’m ready to make my final decision
If someone arrives on your site in the “Research” stage and your call to action is trying to get them to make a decision, they’re not going to act and will leave the site. This is a lost opportunity, as they might forget your brand and won’t return when they are ready to evaluate or make a decision.
If you have a call to action that helps them with their research, you can make a connection and start a relationship, nurturing them along the future stages.
Now that we’ve established why you need multiple calls to action let’s discuss the strategy behind them.
Call to Action Strategy
There are three components that you need to address for maximum conversion rates; they are messaging, offer, and tactics.
Call to Action Messaging
I recommend starting with messaging, as it will naturally guide your offer and tactics. Messaging is the words you use in and around the call to action to persuade the prospect to take action.
There are three areas your messaging needs to address:
- Emotional motivators
- Logical incentives
Human behavior is based on emotion and justified with logic. The decision to take action will be emotional; your call to action needs to harness the prospect’s emotions to be most effective.
This needs to be backed up with a logical incentive so consciously; the prospect can justify their behavior. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for the prospect? How will they benefit?” If it’s not clear to you, it won’t be clear to them. I often see calls to action that benefit the company behind the website, not the prospect on the other side.
Finally, users will have objections to taking action. These are reasons like “I don’t want to be hard sold,” “I’m not confident this will solve my problem,” or “I’m not ready to take the next step.” Your messaging needs to address these objections.
Once you’ve worked through those questions:
- What is emotionally motivating the prospect?
- What logical incentive can I offer them?
- What objections will they have?
You can work on the offer itself.
Call to Action Offers
The offer is what we’re giving prospects in exchange for their action. Sometimes the offer is apparent, like “making a purchase.” More often, however, we give the prospect something valuable in exchange for their contact information.
Some calls to action don’t have an offer and, as a result, are ineffective. A simple “Contact us!” is not an offer because the prospect doesn’t know how they’ll benefit.
Based on your messaging work, you should be able to identify something valuable you can offer the user in exchange for their action. It could be information, such as an eBook, infographic, video, etc., or a free consultation, report, or audit.
Once you have the offer, you can focus on the tactics.
Call to Action Tactics
Once you have the messaging and offer, you still need to identify placement and treatment. Specifically, where should this call to action appear on your website, and how should it look?
There is no universal rule on where to put a call to action, but there are some rules of thumb. One of the essential factors is placing it on a page or with content related to the current buyer stage.
If you’re crafting a call to action during the research phase, you might want to select relevant blog posts or articles to include it. If it’s the evaluation phase, place it within your case studies.
If you haven’t done user flows as part of your buyer journey mapping, I’d recommend doing so, as it will help identify suitable placements.
Treatment refers to how the call to action is visually presented. There are two critical considerations.
First is attention; this is one of the essential elements of your website — it needs to catch the user’s attention. This is where you might want a design that doesn’t blend or integrate with the rest of your site.
Some designers advocate using a color for calls to action that isn’t used anywhere else on the site.
The second is amplification. You want the visuals and imagery to amplify the messaging. Design and copy need to work hand in hand; otherwise, the imagery is just a distraction.
E-mail newsletters are a common marketing tactic; most websites have a sign-up call to action. Like me, you’ve probably seen countless newsletter sign-ups that say, “Subscribe to our newsletter.”
This call to action doesn’t align with the user’s emotional motivations, doesn’t offer any logical justification, and doesn’t address any objections.
Simply realigning that call to action to say:
Subscribe to our newsletter and become an expert in your industry. We’ll send you exclusive, ground-breaking content that will help you perform your best.
(Don’t worry, we will only send you one email per week and you can subscribe anytime. We never sell information and won’t try and pitch you anything!)
Is going to be significantly more effective. You address their emotional motivators (personal growth), give them a logical incentive and offer (exclusive, ground-breaking content), and address their concerns about email volume, spam, being sold, etc…
Your calls to action could be the essential elements of your website. When approached strategically, you’ll see significantly higher conversion rates, which means more leads and sales. Ensure you have a call to action for each stage in your buyer’s journey. Then identify the messaging, offer, and tactics required to maximize the effectiveness of each one.