Calls to Action and the Results-Driven Website

Gone are the days of the website merely acting as an online brochure for your company. There is no debating that fact. That being said, a results-driven website is more than just an additional tool for reaching your prospects and delivering engaging content. It is a living, breathing, business generating machine that takes visitors and turns them into customers.

A results-driven website is always built with S.M.A.R.T. goals in mind. If that term is unfamiliar to you, a S.M.A.R.T. goal is Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (link to Andrew’s Blog). And when building your site, every component of the site should be geared toward achieving the goals of the website.

One component of a website that is geared toward achieving its goals is effective calls to action.

Calls to action are the online version of a salesperson’s closing techniques. Like closing techniques, there are many different types of calls to action. The difference being, a close is an active attempt to bring out buying actions, while calls to action are based on visitor actions. Like a sale person and closing attempts, a website must include multiple calls to action, but not so many as to annoy or take away from the rest of the website.

Calls to action must be placed on more than just the home page. If your site does not provide the ability for visitors to engage and connect with your company across the breadth of the site, the calls to action lose their effectiveness. You should place your calls to action in spots that are most intuitive in terms of where the visitor will look. On the home page, this is frequently in the center of the page. For secondary pages, it is common for visitors to look to the left along the length of the site, the upper right corner, or both. (It is also common to see a Contact Us option at the bottom of the page, but that should not be the only location.)

Responding to a call to action will indicate either active or passive interest in your product or service. Active interest means the visitor actively looking to buy. They have done their research and are prepared to make a purchase or engage in your services. Passive interest means that the visitor is still in the research phase and are primarily looking to gather information.

Active Interest Calls to Action

Chat Feature

There are multiple options available for offering a live chat feature on your website. While it is true that both active and passive interest visitors will use a chat feature, it is most commonly used by a visitor looking to ask a quick question or two before making an online purchase. Providing this call to action is a great way to prevent shopping cart abandonment and increase the feeling in your customer’s mind that you are there to support them.

Shop Now

If you are going to give customers the ability to buy online, it must be very easy to begin this process. Your “Shop Now” buttons should stand out from the rest of the site. On a related topic, the check-out process should also be very easy. Too many steps, shipping/tax surprises at the end of the process, etc. will likely result in shopping cart abandonment. Read this awesome post from Usetest.com about shopping cart abandonment.

Free Trial

Technically, this call to action could fall under both active and passive. While the customers who opt for a trial might not be ready to completely commit, they are engaged enough to try it out. The close ratio for such prospects should be very high (unless your product/service is really bad, but that is a bigger issue than we are discussing here) because the transition from “test” to “use” is pretty easy.

Passive Interest Calls to Action

Perhaps passive interest is a bit of a misnomer, but the thought is that the visitor is interested in your product or service, but as still in the research phase of the buying process. For these visitors, there are multiple calls to action you can use to increase engagement and thus, conversion.

Contact Us/Lean More

Many visitors to your website are going to want options for learning more about your product or service. As a result, this is a critically important call to action for your website. It is important that you place the Contact Us or Learn More links in locations where the visitor’s eyes are typically drawn.

Watch a Video/Demonstration

Videos and demonstrations are dynamic, engaging ways to teach prospects more about your product or service while they are still on your site.

Testimonials

Having relevant, thoughtful testimonials can have a huge impact on your prospect’s decision as to whether or not to buy your product or engage your services. If you can get clients to provide a video testimonial, it is even more impactful.

Portfolio/Catalogue Viewing

Although it does not initiate an immediate interaction with one of your representatives, viewing your catalogue or portfolio is call to action that is easily tracked and will increase the visitor’s interest level. You can turn this call to action into a visitor engagement tool by allowing the visitor to place product literature in a “shopping cart” feature, allowing them to request information while they are viewing your catalogue. As with an actual ordering shopping cart, the “check out” process should be smooth and in as few steps as possible. And of course, you should use the information “shopping cart” as a way to gather contact information (full name, address, email address, phone, etc).

Social Media

As with a live chat feature, following or sharing through social media can be both an active and passive response to a call to action. The advantage of social media calls to action is that there is they provide with additional exposure to new prospects. Every time a visitor shares your content, you get increased exposure. And when they choose to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., that gives you even more opportunities for providing interesting, relevant contact that can be shared. However, it is important to remember, when using social media to increase engagement, you must make sure your contact actually provides value. Few things can hurt the effectiveness of your social media marketing, and the effectiveness of your website, than meaningless content that is posting for the sake of posting.

Implementing calls to action in your website is certainly not an overnight game changer and will require testing. Unless you are building a whole new website, it is better to start small and add components over time, allowing you to make sure each call to action is as effective as possible. If you are building a new website, develop a clear understanding of your goals for the website and how each call to action is going to be a part of achieving those goals.

Pinterest’s New Business Accounts: Does Your Company Need One?

Pinterest’s New Business Accounts: Does Your Company Need One?

Well, here’s the short answer: if your business used to have a regular account on Pinterest and you want to stay on the site and use it for commercial purposes, you absolutely need a business account.

Why? Because Pinterest says so. They are making it mandatory for all commercial businesses on the site to get a business account and agree to the business terms of service.

What are the Benefits of the New Pinterest Business Account?

The new business accounts offer several benefits for companies over the old personal ones, such as real business account names (Bed, Bath & Beyond can finally just enter their name http://pinterest.com/bedbathbeyond/ instead of being “First name: Bed, Bath; Last name: & Beyond”) and access to educational materials on how to best use the site for marketing.

Pinterest also promises additional business-exclusive features in the future. The rumor mill thinks these could include ‘Buy Now’ buttons, targeted ads, business analytics, and more. These new bells and whistles would make it an even more powerful social networking tool.

Who & How Can Benefit from Pinterest Business Account?

If your company isn’t on Pinterest yet, here are several reasons why you might want to consider getting a business account:

Your Business Produces Visual Results

Photography, web design, cooking, interior design, clothing, arts and crafts, you name it. Businesses with any kind of visually stimulating products or services can do extremely well on Pinterest because the site is all about catching people’s eyes.

Attract Attention to Your Company Through Visuals Related to Your Niche

Huh? What does that mean? Well, let’s say that you run a pet insurance company or do social media marketing. Not necessarily the most visual professions. But if you’re willing to pin things that aren’t specifically related to your company, you can still raise the profile of your company by getting people to repin and click over to your site. The insurance company might pin pet health tips or even just pics of cute dogs and cats, while the marketing company can pin news in the advertising world and infographics.

It’s Part of the Holy Social Sharing Trinity

Pinterest’s rapid ascension in the social media landscape has put it right up there with Facebook and Twitter – at least in terms of the public consciousness – and the site encourages interaction between those two giants, sharing traffic and funneling visitors to your various profiles and sites. Rather than siphoning traffic from each other, putting pages and accounts on these three social media sites can help grow your entire following and bring more visitors to your site.

Your Website Could Be More Social

When discussing the website goals of a new client, we often ask “What about social media integration?”. This question is often met with uncertainty, or the client simply assumes that their website or business is inapplicable to the social media giants. However, now more than ever you should be taking advantage of social media sites as they can be one of the best promotional tools in your online marketing strategy.

Social Media sites (specifically Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google +), have all realized that their services are not just for individuals. Every day, thousands of businesses and organizations are creating new social media accounts in hopes of attracting more potential customers to their websites. The reasons are simple: there is an enormous amount of potential clients that can be easily reached by leveraging social media tools.

Facebook is set to achieve one billion users by August 2012 – that’s one in seven people on the planet. At the time of this article, Twitter has an impressive 150 million users, and LinkedIn and Google + are also growing exponentially every year.

To reach this vast audience, we often recommend that your social media contributions are a delicate balance of both useful information and promotional material. If your social media content is too heavy with business promotion you will likely not attract many users, followers, or likers, as no one is interested in a social media site full of ads. Rather we suggest that you submit helpful and timely news or tips through social media, and use direct promotion sparingly.

Many clients feel that the addition of social media sites will become an administrative burden to properly maintain and update. At Rebel Trail, we have addressed these concerns by developing Content Management Systems (CMS) that will integrate and disseminate information from one source to multiple online destinations. For example, with our content management systems, you can easily input a news article or tip, and instantly push the content to your website, Facebook profile, Twitter feed, Google + page, and several other social media sites. This saves a tremendous amount of time in keeping all of your sites up to date with current information.

Social media integration can also give you a big boost with the search engines. Search engine sites like Google specifically look for updated content and social media links. These sites tend to give preference to websites with frequently updated content and links to associated social media sites. We have helped many clients achieve top placement with the search engines by simply developing a social media strategy for them – and in many cases the results have been highly impressive.

To discuss the benefits that social media integration can bring to your website, contact Rebel Trail today.