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While it’s possible to measure the overall “success” of a website with multiple different metrics, most webmasters would agree that the number of total conversions—that is the total number of customers or potential customers earned by a site—is the best one to examine. Generally, conversions are earned through a call-to-action on some area of your page, and a number of factors—including your total traffic generation, your page load times, and your perceived brand value—can affect them.

Rather than looking at any of these peripheral factors, I’m going to cut right to the chase and examine the call-to-action itself. A strong call-to-action can make the most of any amount of traffic, and in my opinion, it serves as the critical decision point that will make or break your overall online strategy. Even sites with low traffic can have high conversions, if conversions are optimized.

With that being said, there are seven essential features your call-to-action needs to have if you want to be successful:

1. Visibility.

Above the fold

First and foremost, you need to get your call-to-action seen—otherwise, how would your visitors know where to click it? Put a call-to-action on as many pages as you can, and always put it “above the fold” of your website. You’ll also want to use some sort of directional cue, such as an arrow, to call out the request, or set things up so the call-to-action pops up after a certain amount of time spent on the page.

2. Urgency.

In your wording and presentation, your call-to-action needs to demonstrate some level of urgency. For example, simply including the word “now” somewhere in your copy instantly elevates the immediacy of your request. You can also do this by implementing various marketing tricks—such as including a countdown timer for a special deal, or advertising a discount for a “limited time only.” Just be aware that too many of these can seem gimmicky, so keep it balanced.

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3. Contrast.


This goes along with the “visibility” property, but it carries enough weight on its own that it deserves an independent mention. Your call-to-action needs to stand out from the rest of your page. If you have too many distractions circling around your page, people won’t have the opportunity to click your call-to-action. Use contrasting colors, like orange against blue, to make your callout stand out, or make use of minimalistic white space in the majority of your page design. Eliminate distractions.

4. Conciseness.

Don’t bog your visitor down with paragraphs of text in your call-to-action. Instead, try to keep things as concise as possible. Use short phrases that convey your exact purpose, and only use images and buttons when necessary. If you have a form that your users will fill out, try to keep it to a minimum number of possible fields. The less your call-to-action has, the better.

5. Value.

People don’t buy things without a reason, and these days, they won’t even submit their email address unless they know they’ll get something worthwhile in return. Make sure your visitors understand the value of what you’re offering them—whether that’s a star product or a free trial of your software. Keeping things concise, a handful of bullet points should do the job just fine—otherwise, include a brief testimonial or a list of credentials that convince your visitors that you know what you’re talking about.

6. Modesty.

Overbearing calls-to-action are getting to be a problem in the online world, especially for gimmicky products like weight loss pills and other less-than-clinically-approved health supplements. They’re bogged down with sexy pictures, flashing arrows, exclamation points, and all kinds of other gimmicks designed to get people to click. In a sense, they’re following all the advice I have listed—except to the extreme. People are turned away by this type of format, so try to keep your call-to-action modest. Include these tricks and tactics, but only do so to an extent that doesn’t alienate your visitors.

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7. Options.


Finally, keep in mind that imposing a single call-to-action on your visitors can make people feel uncomfortable, and might persuade them to leave instead of signing up. Instead of forcing a black-or-white decision, present your visitors with multiple options. For example, you can have “add to cart” or “add to wishlist” to keep your customer interested in a product he/she doesn’t want to buy immediately. Or, you could have a “download our free ebook” button against a “signup for our email newsletter” button. Either way, you win.

If you can develop a call-to-action with these seven features, you should have no problem getting the conversions—and therefore the revenue—that your business needs in order to thrive. Just remember that building your conversions is a process that takes patience, attention, and ongoing tinkering. It’s never as simple as turning on a switch. Once you optimize for conversions, you will then want to ensure you fully maximize your traffic with quality content and a good link building campaign. A good conversion rate is ideal, but bringing more people into the top of the funnel and converting them, only then is your website completely optimized.

Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter

Timothy Carter is the CRO for AudienceBloom. Since 1997 he’s been helping businesses maximize their sales revenue from websites via content marketing, SEO and Internet Marketing strategies.

Over the years he’s written for publications like Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.

Timothy Carter

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