By Richmond Lauman
No, this article is not an attempt to encourage anyone to become an activist for one cause or another. It is about a different kind of call to action that you may or may not be familiar with and it relates to websites.
Specifically it relates to organizing your site and writing web copy in such a way that it encourages users on your site to take specific actions and makes it as easy as possible for those actions to be taken.
A website can serve a number of functions and when designing and writing copy for your site, it is important to consider what purpose your site will serve. Aside from just informing viewers about product or services and giving contact information, a well thought out site will have specific goals in mind, with design, organization and copy being carefully constructed in order to achieve those goals. The final step that all of these elements lead to is a call to action, where the user finally takes the action which accomplishes your goal. The success of your website can be measured by how often traffic to your site results in that final step being taken.
Let's imagine you have a business selling a superior Pet Shampoo that is hypo allergenic. You could have a site that is basically an online brochure, offering images of your product, information about product and contact information. This might well result in people viewing your site and contacting you or visiting your location to purchase product but it is a waste of the potential of your site.
Alternatively you could:
- Decide on goals for the site - in this case, as well as informing and providing potential customers with information, you can add goals such as: get as much potential traffic as possible, build a mailing list of qualified customers to who are interested in your product, encourage repeat viewers to your site, and convert site users to customers. Your web designer should be able to help you with suggestions as to what a web site is capable of achieving.
- Get as much traffic as possible – the plan here is to write compelling content that contains keywords and phrases potential customers are most likely to search. Concentrate on phrases that are more specific as more generic phrases will have significantly more competition for search results. For example "shampoo" and "pet shampoo" are not as specific as terms like "cat shampoo" or "hypo allergenic cat shampoo". This does not mean you have to describe every possible type of pet with "hypoallergenic shampoo" in your content, but it does mean your content should contain and emphasize not only the words shampoo and hypoallergenic, but also the names of all of the animals your product will work on. And this information should be, whenever possible, in web elements that tell the search engines "these words are important" such as headings, meta description tags and title tags. As well as having keyword rich content, posting keyword rich content on social networking accounts like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (among many others) that directs traffic back to your site will also increase traffic. Provide opportunity for users to share content on your site with other people through social networking sites.
- Build a mailing list – Set up an account with a mail management service (Mail Chimp is one I recommend but there are others). Set up a form on every page of your site that allows users to be added to your mailing list and make it clear of the benefits of subscribing ("sign up for free pet care tips and information on exciting new products and great deals!"). Make sure you provide subscribers with what you promise. Take time to put together some pet care information on at least a semi regular basis and information about new products with special prices. As your list grows you will be able to regularly give qualified and interested individuals the opportunity to purchase your product and forward the opportunity to their friends who might also be interested. Make sure your emails provide the opportunity to share the content with others and whenever possible direct interested viewers to your site. A good web designer will also be familiar with this process. In this plan, the call to action is the call to subscribe to your list. Make it easy for that to happen by making the sign up form highly visible, easy to find, easy to use and worth their effort to use.
- Encourage repeat visitors to your site – the plan to achieve this goal was already implemented in steps 2 and 3, where social networking and mass mailing content would direct traffic to your site. You can also have regularly updated content on your website itself. Make sure it is clear to viewers that new content will be added and give them a way to return when it is updated. An RSS feed link will do this or you can tell viewer that by subscribing to your mailing list, they will receive notification and links when new content is on your site.
- Convert site traffic to sales – here there will be a number of calls to action (in this case the final "purchase now" button). With good content making it clear how the product will benefit the purchaser, have the link to that final purchase be as visible and easy to get to as possible. If a user has to search for a way to get your product they will probably give up. This is where careful and intuitive organization of your site comes into play and again a good web designer will ensure that the user experience of purchasing your product is as obvious and easy as possible. When you display content about new products in emails or on other sites make sure you provide a prominent link directly to a page on your site where the product can be purchased. If you are not intending to sell online then it is equally important to provide a way for people to contact you for ordering or visit your location. The call to action will be a page with a physical address (if there is one), phone number, email address and a form that will collect essential lead information (but not so much information that the form becomes a task to fill out). Every page should have at least one menu link to your contact page, your phone number and email address, and text links to your contact page wherever it is contextual (ie. a "Contact us now for ordering information!" button).
This kind of planning will turn a site for pet shampoo from a static brochure site, into a useful tool that does much more to convert traffic to actual customers.
Every individual business should come up with their own unique plan, but the basic concepts will be similar and with the help of a qualified web designer your plan will result in a successful and productive website. All by determining your goals and putting together a plan for implementation.
About the Author
Richmond Lauman is a Web Designer/Developer who owns JAMAXX Web Design, a Web Design company in Nanaimo, BC, Canada.
This article may be re-printed and used free of charge as long as it remains in it's entirety including credit to the author, information about the author, and a link to the author's website.