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.

Content is King in website marketing

content-is-king

For a long time now, most web folks have known that “Content is King”. What does that mean? Great content can get visitors to your website. Great content can keep people on your website. Great content gets people to link to your website. Great content can get search engines to rank you well. Keeping content fresh can help maintain your good search engine results (SERPs).

What do I mean by content?

The content I’m referring too can be text, products, photos, videos, social media, blogs, white papers, comments, polls, rankings and anything else that adds something to your website.

What makes content so important?

As a search engine optimization (SEO) geek I know, right after the very basics like meta information, the most important thing to consider in trying to rank high is content. The search engines love text, especially when it is relevant and supports the rest of the websites content. By relevant I mean, adding a chocolate chip cookie recipe to an architecture website probably won’t help your relevancy. Adding an article about computer aided design (CAD) might.

Google will tell you that one way to get better rankings on search engines is having quality inbound links to your site. You can hire a link building person to scour the web looking for opportunities, or you can develop content that someone might be interested in linking too. I hate the term but “Link Bait”, or creating content with the intent to encourage links, is a great way to increase where you rank in the SERPs.

Besides the search engines, believe it or not visitors to your site like good content. Using the example above, let’s say a visitor comes to your architecture website and the first page they come across is an article on chocolate chip cookies. The likelihood of the visitor staying on the site is low; the likelihood of them turning into a conversion is even lower. Alternately, if you have content the visitor is interested in, they are much more likely to stay or comeback.

Where can I get great content?

The biggest problem with great content is getting great content. Most companies don’t have the resources such as technical writers and content marketing specialist on staff. It can be expensive to generate and maintain content. In an article I came across on eConsultancy entitled, “Your company is awash with great content” they demonstrate all the resources companies can leverage. Below is an exert from that article listing resources you might not have thought of.

Hiding in powerpoint decks. Sales decks, investor presentations, process-focused slides…

Inside the heads of your people. Not just your smartest or most senior people; your front-line sales and support people too; and your product people.

In customer communications. Your customers are a prime source of Grade A content. Almost every interaction has at least the germ of a blog post.

In sales proposals. The things you use to get people to take out their checkbooks.

In promotional bumf. These days, marketers discount all those data sheets and product brochures and case studies as ‘old-school’ content. But there’s gold in those pdfs (if you’ve got the pan to swish it out).

In what other people say about your world. Journalists, bloggers, analysts and experts are all paid (in one way or another) to secrete content. Get your paper towels out.

In everyday working docs. Those banal process documents meeting reports, project summaries and status updates.

In emails. Your email store is absolutely packed with content ready to discover and unleash. In your In box and your Sent folder. Internal emails. External emails. Marketing emails. Viagra spam. (Okay, maybe not Viagra spam – although I did once write a post on it).

In your social channels. Stop tweeting and just listen to every one else’s tweets for a few hours. Dig under the self-promotional layer in every LinkedIn group. Peel back the social veneer of Facebook. Shine a light into the darker corners of YouTube, Slideshare and Pinterest.

What makes great content?

That is a difficult question to answer. The short of it is, it’s different for every website, company, market, etc. My suggestion is do your research. Figure out what your customers are reading, viewing, liking, retweeting and do more of that. Posting one article will not help, be consistent. Ask your sales people or heaven forbid, ask your customers what they might be interested in seeing. Having great, relevant content is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it.