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Is Your Small Business Website’s Call to Action Working?

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Here are five steps to make sure you do the same for your business by directing your visitors with a simple, clear call to action:

1. Identify what you want visitors to do

The nature of your call to action depends on your business and how you want to engage users. Are you a restaurant? Your call to action should invite people to dine at your establishment, by calling or making a reservation online. Social media startup? Encourage them to sign up for an account. Freelance web designer? Guide them towards your portfolio, or to contact you for a quote. Whatever you think is the first step towards converting a visitor to a customer or user is your call to action.

2. Support your call to action with solid copy and design

Once you’ve identified your call to action, make sure the surrounding copy and design give visitors reason to pursue your service. What are you providing? How is it special? Why should they care enough to click “Sign up!” or “Contact us”?

If you don’t have one already, a simple headline that summarizes what you do is a very useful tool. It’s the North Star of your page, a reference point that orients visitors as they navigate content. Use straightforward and positive language so that visitors think, “This sounds great, How do I get it?” Then: boom! Your call to action is right there, ready to show them the way.

3. Tell people exactly what action to take

Once someone is interested, they need to know how to act on it. Don’t be afraid of sounding too direct or pushy. Direct commands that would seem overly aggressive in a conversation – “Get your free account now!” or “Start shopping!” – actually, add much-needed clarity on a website. If someone wants your product, saying how to get it is helpful.

4. Make it stand out

Discretion is not a virtue here; your call to action should be bold (take it from Macy Gray). There are a variety of ways to achieve this, whether it’s by using a standout color, bigger text, or strategic placement. My company Onepager is a website builder for small businesses, so we’ve seen all kinds of calls to action. Depending on your mission, it can range from a bright red “Donate Now” button to a band’s YouTube video in the right sidebar.

Another way to make sure your call to action stands out is to provide only one. Multiple options give people a chance to deliberate, which could risk them not choosing any. (One is usually all you need, but if you find you need more, make sure they’re easily distinguishable.) Onepager once made the mistake of providing two competing options. When we changed it back to one, we saw a rise in new accounts. There’s more to gain by focusing on one clear call to action than by confusing potential customers with too many.

5. Keep it simple

If they’re at the call to action, you’re almost there! Make it easy. Let’s say you want visitors to sign up for a newsletter. You’ll need their name and email address. Try to keep it at that, and not to add too many questions. Remember, this is all about making it easy for your customers to get on board. Once they’ve completed the call to action, you’ll have more opportunity to engage with them, but for now, your objective is to make sure they’re on your boat.

Finally, once you’ve implemented your call to action, be aware of what it does for your business’ growth. Has your user base grown? Are more people shopping at your store? Is your mailing list reaching more inboxes? Hopefully, you’ll notice an improvement, but don’t be afraid to tweak your call to action if your conversion rate hasn’t increased enough. Perhaps visitors will respond better to different placement, color, or language. The beauty of a website is that it’s built for exactly this kind of flexibility.
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