When you’re driving on the freeway in the U.S., you’ll be sure to see a hamburger on a billboard. Not just any hamburger, but a hamburger with lusciously red tomatoes, crisp onions, glistening lettuce, plump buns, juicy meat, and cheese melting into a perfectly placed sigh of gooey deliciousness. This highly styled burger may have little in common with the sandwiches available at the place that pays for the billboard, but it is designed to catch the eye of a hungry traveler. There may be a bit of text, even a slogan, but the important part is the name of the restaurant and the “Exit 86” or “5 miles, left on Broadway” announcement.
The idea is that people on a freeway often have driven for a while and are far from home, they are likely to be hungry, and the sight of this perfect hamburger will tempt them to leave the freeway and drive to the restaurant mentioned on the billboard.
I saw one of these billboards the other day. On the other side of the road, I saw another billboard: “EXIT Buy real estate.”
Huh? Drivers might get hungry and pull off the freeway for a meal. Will they see a command to exit and buy real estate and think, “Gee, you’re right, I ought to look into a ranchette right now”? Not likely.
Just so, your website’s call to action needs to be appropriate for the visitors to the page it’s on. At your homepage, that’s pretty straightforward: the main thing you do, your primary selling point, should be right there. “Here’s what we offer and here’s how to get it” is the effect you want.
Sometimes, though, there’s an inner landing page that needs its own call to action. This is true for Dr. Jane Bluestein, an educational consultant and speaker whose #1 most popular page is an interior page with an article on conflict resolution. Jane built her own website, and we suggested she simplify the navigation and make it more usable.
The page in question is a handout from one of Jane’s presentations, though, and it is based on her books. People who are interested in this article (and analytics tells us that they stay on the page long enough to read it, so we can safely assume that they are interested) may also be interested in the books and presentations if they have the options pointed out to them.
It would make sense to add a callout, a special button for the people who have come to this page by seeking information about conflict resolution.
At right you can see an inner page of the website for Kansas City roofer Bill West Roofing. There’s an infographic about ice dams which brings visitors to this page, and it includes a callout — the bright colored circles on the far left.
This page has changed a lot since then, actually, and it no longer has the special offer. That’s one reason to use callouts: to call visitors to take action on something temporary. Adding a button which is not part of the main design allows you to remove it when the special offer is past.
You can also add one to a particular page without having to alter your basic design. However, you may want to use a callout button as part of the design of your inner pages, as the Kingsmill Resort does. Someone who reaches their inner page through search can easily book a room without having to navigate further.The callout is a golden bar — assertive, but not aggressive.
A callout is often a sunburst or other eye catching shape, but it could just be a strong text link if that’s what you control at your website. For Jane, the cover art of the book could be a good option to drive traffic to her bookshop, or a visually strong line saying, “If you enjoy this handout, hire Jane for your next professional development meeting.”
Once she places the callout, she can watch her analytics to see whether more visitors to that page respond to it by clicking on the button, and of course she’ll watch to see if her hires and book sales increase.
The key, though, for this type of call to action is to identify the products and services which will appeal to the visitor to the landing page in question. From Jane’s analytics, we can see the keywords that bring people to the page and the pages they tend to go to next, so we can match up the callout to their apparent needs.
Just as the hamburger billboard is probably more successful than the “EXIT Buy real estate” one is, a call to hire Jane or buy her books on conflict resolution will be a better choice than an ad for her book on handwriting.