Call to Action: If you don’t ask for the sale, you’ll never get it.

buy now ask for the sale call to action

I’ve been designing and developing website for many years. I have built static portfolio sites all the way up to completely customized content management and ecommerce systems. Over the years I have learned a lot of lessons, some easy, some by trial and some lessons came the hard way with errors. One thing I can say definitively and universally:

If you don’t ask for the sale,
you will never get it.”

What does that mean? You have to have a good call to action (CTA). A CTA can be a button (like the BUY NOW above), it can be banner ad and it can just be text or text link. In all cases and no matter which method you use, a CTA is meant to help a visitor understand what you want them to do. The simplest example is an ecommerce website. At some point you want the visitor to purchase your product. Hopefully you’ve clearly defined the purpose or goal of your website (that helps). Hopefully you’ve done all the search engine optimization to get good quality traffic to your website. And hopefully you’ve have used best practice design/navigation/search to help funnel those visitors to the products and services that they have need for. So assuming all of those things and a customer makes it to the page they need to be on, a good CTA gets all up in their face and say’s “right here dummy, click me”. You shouldn’t hide the “buy now” or “add to cart” button. Use a bold color that sharply contrasts the color palette that you use on the website. You don’t have to use red or orange. If your sites primary color is one of those, it wouldn’t standout at all. Use text that is clear and binary, “buy now” and “purchase” for example. You can’t get more clear than those.

Ecommerce is not the only time you might need a good CTA. Every website should have a goal. In many cases the end goal or conversion is not an ecommerce transaction. Many times the purpose of a website is to encourage visitors to download something. Maybe you just want them to complete a form or sign up for a newsletter. Sometimes you just want to encourage visitors to call for more information. In all of these situations, you need a CTA. “Sign up for our Newsletter”, “Download Specification Sheet”, “Contact Us for More Information” or “Register to Win” are all great examples. If this is the purpose of your website, you need to drive the visitors eye to them. Again, using contrasting colors, bold and clear text and in the case of banner adds animation all accomplish that purpose.

Probably don’t use images like this though.Moving-picture-blue-down-arrow-animated-gif

If you have any question about CTA or agree or disagree with me, let me hear from you in the comments below.

There Are Lots of Forms of SPAM

“But I don’t like SPAM!

Sure, we all get email spam in our inbox. Spam filters have eliminated some, but we all still get it. How many other forms of spam do you get? What do you consider spam?

I use the term spam for any unsolicited attempt to offer me something. That definition opens up a whole other list.

What about telephone spam, don’t you just love those. Especially the robocalls, those are awesome. I’m to the point, unless I recognize the number, I don’t pick any of my phones, home, office or cellphone.

What about sneaky upsells? Godaddy comes to mind. I just want the domain name, dang it. Please don’t ask me if I want anything else. I cringe when a client is hosting with them or wants to buy their domain name there.

What about auto selected items in forms and download? These are the worst and I definitely consider that spamming. Adobe (especially with Flash downloads) and Oracle (Java downloads) are the worst. NO, I don’t what McAfee something or other software. Please do NOT pre-select that option then de-emphasized or even hide it all together, it drives me nuts. Oh, and what about when you complete a form or place an order and you get pitched a newsletter or “other communications”. Always pre-selected or worse the verbiage is confusing. “Check Yes, if you do not agree to not get our future spam”. What?

What is your most hated spam?

 

adobe-fail

 

Email or SPAM? When do we cross the line?

I apologize upfront today because it seems whenever I update this blog its either to rant or rave about something or announce another website launch, so I’m sorry.

My question today is what are legitimate email and what is spam? The line is very grey between the two these days. (For our purposes here I am not talking about blatant spam for male enhancement products, etc.) I will admit that I have a healthy disdain for spam and spammers. In my younger days when I had much more time to blow on such things I used to track down the servers that were sending the spam and report them and their internet service providers. Now I just vent on blogs.

Everyone has email and everyone gets spam. Some have better spam filters then other but everyone gets it. As a company, it makes sense to stay in contact with your customers offering deals and news about your company. I have no problem with this. What I insist on is the ability to opt out.

Ideally ever company would ONLY email individuals who specifically requested to receive those email. That is not realistic. Most companies send email to their client list all the time without receiving permission. Honestly, I don’t even mind that so much as long as you let me opt out.

You KNOW you are dealing with a shady company when you click their opt out link and it doesn’t resolve to a website or it has some deceptive text to confuse you. Many spammers will include a “opt out” form, but all you do is verify the address is active so they can spam more and then sell their list. ARRGGHH…Did I mention I can’t stand spammers?

Here are a few suggestions if you are going to send email to your customers:

1. Please, please, please make it easy for them to remove themselves. Do you really think someone is going to purchase your product or service if you are annoying them with spam. If you don’t provide a easy opt out tool, I’ll just submit you as a spammer.

2. Don’t email too often or on consecutive days. Spread them out people. Sending me too many email right away makes me want to unsubscribe.

3. Make the content worth while, don’t just send an email because you haven’t sent one in a while. Not every email is going to resonate with ever person on your list, but if you consistently send content that is crap, I’ll unsubscribe.

So is it spam or is it legit? I suppose like so many things it is all in the eye of the beholder. I might consider an email spam. The company who sent that email may legitimately think that they are connecting with me and providing a service. Who knows? Heck with Facebook (+ all the other social sites) who uses email anymore anyway? I may not be able to clearly define what is or is not spam, but I know it when I see it. So to all you spammers and shady companies, I am watching. Keep spamming me and I’ll….I’ll…I’ll write another blog post.

Newspapers are dead or dying, is email next?

If you are a fan of print magazines and newspapers you better get it while you can. Despite the many that are still clinging to print, it IS dying a slow death. Several discussions with colleagues have brought up an interesting thought, is email the next communication tool to die?

We all still us email, but will social media and network sites along with texting kill email? More and more business are jumping on board with social media (Twitter, Facebook), more and more adults are using text messaging to communicate. If you are in your 20’s or younger, you probably communicate exclusively through Facebook or MySpace and texting. So is it that inconceivable that email might be next on the extinction list?

 I am very interested in what you all think.

 Related articles:

http://www.psfk.com/2009/01/what-will-you-miss-when-newspapers-disappear.html

http://www.dmnews.com/Is-e-mail-marketing-next-for-extinction/article/123979/

Email marketing campaigns, stay in touch over the holidays, but be careful.

I manage several email marketing campaigns, some with hundreds of recipients and some with 10’s of thousands. The knee jerk reaction in a down market and over the holidays is to blast away to your list every offer you can think of. The article below presents some interesting information you should consider before doing this.

E-mail is popular this holiday, but marketers should be careful