» Call to Action & Conversion
Too often, site owners design site pages and generate site text based on their personal likes and dislikes. It’s a natural thing to do. But, is it the smart thing, the right thing to do? The answer lies in every site owners’ understanding of what attracts and keeps humans on site and on point to perform the most desired action (MDA).
SEO Falls Short
It’s not about SEO. SEO is, by definition, designed to optimize the site for accurate, complete and beneficial search engine indexing. It only marginally applies to the drives and motivations of those with credit cards. Buyers. In fact, many SEO strategies actually work against visitors performing the MDA. Keyword dense text, for example, often reads like spamglish. SEs may like it. It’s off-putting to many humans.
The focus on SEO should take place in the design of the site’s “backstage” architecture, hidden from the audience. Eyeball optimization (EBO) takes place on the presentation layer. SEO gets them there. EBO keeps them there and converts visitors to buyers.
Often the most overlooked aspect of site design is the first impression it makes on visitors. It takes the average visitor less than 10 seconds to decide if a site is what s/he is looking for. That means the home page has to be right on target.
Right color scheme. Right text font. Right tone to the copy. Right graphics and images. But how do you know what’s right?
First, define your target demographic with the utmost specificity. This is the ideal buyer for your products or services. Imagine this individual. Determine and list all of the following:
- male or female
- education level
- income level
- associated interests & hobbies
- core personal values
- community status and association
- family size; family role
- core needs
- desires and expectations
This often requires making reasonable assumptions regarding visitors. For example, if you’re site markets high-end homes, it’s safe to assume that serious visitors come from high income brackets. Conversely, if you’re marketing legal bankruptcy services, it’s safe to assume that income levels don’t meet spending levels.
Second, don’t go with what appeals to your tastes, likes and dislikes. You’re much too close to the project to determine the “rightness” of the chosen color motif. But, it’s easy enough to research what works and what doesn’t. Just Google up the top-tier competition to see what colors they’ve chosen. You can’t copyright colors and you don’t have to be a graphic artist. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Just do a little research.
Third, consider questions of accessibility. How accessible is the site’s message? This includes everything from the readability of the type (size and font) to the number of clicks a visitor must make to reach the MDA. The more clicks, the fewer MDAs.
The Value of MDA Analysis
An analysis of the marketplace, and the development of a target demographic, contribute to the completion of the MDA by increased numbers of visitors (higher conversion rate).
With commercial sites, the most desired action is to get visitors to buy something. That’s why you’re there. But as an MDA, “Get them to buy something” is too expansive. It’s not specific enough.
A broadly-stated MDA is much less helpful than a specific MDA. With a specific action in mind, your site’s design, layout, architecture and site text can be more specifically targeted to encourage visitors to perform the MDA.
What do you want visitors to buy? How much would you like each buyer to spend? How important are repeat buyers? What are the stumbling blocks between the visitor and the MDA? Answer these questions and your well on your way to designing a site that delivers the highest possible conversion rate.
Here’s a sample of a specific MDA designed for a site selling after-sale motorcycle accessories: I want men under 40, who ride motorcycles and have discretionary income, to purchase at least two items with a combined retail value above $50 on their first visit. I want that buyer to return within six months to make another purchase of equal or greater value.
With an MDA like this, the site owner is in a much better position to:
- define demographic motivations (price, status, problem solver, etc.)
- design a site that appeals to this individual
- set product prices and pre-determine margins
- write copy appropriate to the demographic
- develop an actionable strategy to retain customers
- meet and exceed expectations of visitors
The Call to Action
Believe it or not, many site owners skip this essential element of overall site design. The call to action tells the visitor what to do. For example, when you hear advertisements on the radio or TV, they often end with the words “Call today” Act now” or “Don’t wait another minute.” These are calls to action, telling listeners what the next step is. “Pick up the telephone and place your order. Do it now before you forget!”
Calls to action should be spread throughout any website. These calls to action should also be contextual, providing visitors directions on what they should do next from their current location within the site.
In some cases, the call to action might be something as simple as, “To learn more, please click here.” On another page, the call to action might be “Please proceed to our secure checkout to process your order.” Think of these as helpful directions to visitors as they navigate your site toward the MDA.
Also think of them as important sales tools. The call to action should be targeted directly to your ideal buyer. The language and the message should be unambiguous. For example, a mutual fund site might employ the dignified, business-like “To obtain a prospectus or to speak with one of our customer care representatives, please click here.”
The site selling skateboards would employ a different tone. “Order 3 jammin’ wheels right now and we’ll give you the 4th roller FREE! We’ll even ship FREE so you keep more $$$ in your pocket. Now, that’s HOT!!!”
Design your call to action to suit the sensibilities of your target buyer.
There’s no doubt that search engine optimization is important (critical) to the success of an ecommerce site. However, search engines don’t make purchases. Your site designer can make the site readable to SEs to ensure that it’s optimized for search engines and properly indexed.
However, you or your designer should pay just as much attention to eyeball optimization (EBO). This includes everything from colors to text layout to graphics and pictures. These are the things that attract attention and keep visitors from clicking off.
Finally, create useful calls to action throughout your site. These visitor directions tell potential customers what’s coming up and what to expect. They also tell customers what to do next. Buy an item, complete a form, opt in for a newsletter or pick up the telephone — the MDA may vary, but a potent call to action is the best, no-cost way to improve conversion rates.
Your conclusion says it all. I go to so many sites that have great info where I find myself struggling to see exactly where they want me to go next.
Even the optin box melts into the theme design. I say make the CTA a big and bold colour, they say orange works the best. And please the call to action for the opt-in box needs more than “join our newsletter” Good post and great info