There are some things every website needs, and the most important can be boiled down to this: who you are, what you offer, and how your visitor can get it.
This is not about visibility (although a clear statement search engines can understand is a big help) or about your relationship with your customers (although having them buy your stuff can be the start of a great relationship). It’s about serving the needs of the people who already know what they want.
This is the person who walks into your store and asks if you sell umbrellas, the person who calls your office because he needs a lawyer, the person who needs new tires right now. This is you when you head into the grocery store for a pound of coffee on your way home from work. You want coffee. You may have some specific preferences and you may be open to trying a new brand, but you don’t need to be persuaded to buy coffee: that’s what you’re doing right now.
Here are the things you need to know, the information you need to marshal before you can judge your call to action:
- Who are you?
- What do you have to offer?
- How can your visitor get it?
When you want a pound of coffee, you might go straight to a grocery store, but you might also just be watching for a place on your way home. If you see a coffee shop or a natural foods store or a gas station, you might stop and go in to see whether they have coffee.If they don’t have coffee, you’ll leave again,because that’s all you want right now. You’re not in the market for new experiences. You might come back later to check them out, but right now you want coffee.
Your online visitor may have reached you through search not for your company but for something you do. You have just a few seconds to make it clear to them that you sell coffee (or whatever it is they’re looking for) before they leave. You need a really clear statement of what you do.
FreshPlans is a teacher resource site. We say so in the tagline at the top (“Engaging learning tools…”), and again in our call to action (“…free teacher resource site.”)
We’re not selling anything at FreshPlans. We want people to do three things, and they’re all in the right hand sidebar above the fold:
- Click through to Amazon; our affiliate income supports the website.
- Click through to the Haden Interactive website.
- Sign up for the newsletter so we can communicate with our visitors.
Accord Logistics Solutions is a freight broker. The images of trucks clue you in to that even before you start reading, and “Complete Logistics” in a spotlight box and on one of their banners make it more clear.
They want people to request a quote, and there are several places above the fold that say so: the top right corner, the first slide in their rotating gallery, and one of the central spotlight boxes. There’s plenty of other content for people who want to explore further, but people who are ready to buy can do so immediately.
More of the King is a publisher of Christian camp curricula. They want people to buy their books.As soon as you reach their website, you see a statement of just what they do and a clear invitation to visit their shop.
Colosseum Brand is a maker of women’s workout clothing. We’re working on their new website, launching this week. We’re adding some text for search engines, which don’t see pictures, but human visitors can probably tell easily from their homepage that they make workout gear — start shopping!
Each of these examples has a clear call to action. Visitors are asked to do different things: to support the site, to contact the company, to buy products directly. Each of the calls to action looks different and each one is in a different place — though always above the fold.
Notice that none of these calls to action is a vague suggestion to get in touch. There’s always a button to click, a form to fill out, or a product to buy.The coffee, in other words, is right there on a shelf in the front so that coffee buyer can tell she’s in the right place and grab a pound or two.
What about your website?