The ultimate guide to a more customer focused website: Part 5 the call to action

What one change could all website owners make today, which would dramatically increase sales and conversion rates?

Improve the call to action!

You may have a really customer focused website, with high levels of traffic, but if that traffic doesn’t convert into sales, something needs to change.

When I work with e-commerce companies, I am constantly surprised that so many websites still have a really really poor call to action. Even the really customer focused websites regularly do this badly. My plan is always to add a clear and compelling call to action and to repeat that call to action often on each page. The call to action is usually created around the dominant stream of income on the homepage. My three take-away points, to improve the call to action, are:

1. Be clear

2. Be compelling

3. Ask often

This one change can create a great sense of momentum. It is the one thing website owners can do today, that could make a big difference. It is an inexpensive change that can be tested. Let’s look at some examples which expertly put these three points into practise:

1. Be clear

NEST is a brilliant set of products. Their range is small and beautiful. Speaking from experience, it is remarkably simple to use. When you look at their website there is a headline, a great image and a clear call to action: ‘Buy Now’.

Virgin Trains is another good example of a website with a clear call to action:
‘book your journey’. It is clear and simple to complete. The result is an increase in ticket sales through their website.

To create a clear call to action you have to:

It needs to include a verb because the customer has to do something - Have a really clear design. Use a unique colour. Make it stand out. Put it in the right place, either directly under the headline and sub-headline, or on the top right hand side of the screen. Even better, put it in both places!.

2. Be compelling

Does your website have a ‘Sign up to our Newsletter’ section? Many websites still have this feature, and it won’t surprise you to hear that it doesn’t work. I know we have had it on many of our websites. We have tried different designs. But the principles have generally remained the same: we have a box where people put their email, a sign up button and text saying ‘Subscribe to our newsletter, enter your email below’.

It is really clear what the customer should do. But it is not compelling. It is the exact opposite of compelling. Most e-commerce companies have now wised-up to this problem and added a little pop-up window saying, ‘Subscribe to our newsletter and get 10% off your first order’. That is much more compelling.

3. Ask and ask often

Many people don’t like to ask their customers to do something, particularly to buy something. If it is hard to ask for the sale, then it is almost impossible to repeatedly ask. However, on your website, this is imperative. This is important because of the scroll.

People have got used to scrolling websites thanks to the rise of browsing on smart phones. No longer do you have to have everything on the ‘first fold’. Customers are now happy to scroll down. In fact, it’s their preferred way to browse.

If they scroll, they are looking for more information before hitting your call to action button. Therefore, that button needs to appear at very regular intervals, to save people scrolling back up when they are ready to click and take the next step.

Some companies, such as Amazon, among others, have achieved the same result in a slightly different way. They have kept the ‘buy now’ button static in the top right hand corner of the screen. When you scroll down that ‘buy now’ button remains in the same place. This is another effective way to do the same thing.

The charity sector is notoriously bad at asking. They want people to donate money but their websites often lack a simple ‘donate here’ button. Those charities that have included a ‘donate here’ button, could make it much more prominent and increase the frequency with which it appears.

Although you do definitely need to ask often, it is much more effective to keep your call to action to one per page. Any more than that and it starts to become confusing and unclear.

There you have it, a few simple tweaks to your call to action button could make the world of difference. Colour, location on the page, design and the words used, all have a part to play. Have a look at your call to action.

Is it irresistible?

Do you just have to click it?