Does your website content help you or hurt you? Does it do nothing?
There are probably as many definitions for the word “marketing” as there are marketers. In it’s simplest form marketing is the act of buying and selling in a market. There are many kinds of markets, and as many means of marketing, but the purpose of any marketing program is to get someone to “buy” something. It could be a product or service, or it could be an idea. There may be a monetary consideration included, or there may be nothing other than the promoting of one’s philosophy. Whatever the motive of the seller, they have something they want others to have. They want the buyer to need or want their product, service or idea.
This is why any promotional material, whether it be a newspaper advertisement, direct mail, email promotion, website or even a blog post needs to have a “Call to Action” or CTA. The CTA may be something as simple as enticing the reader to sign up for your e-newsletter, call you, or buy your “Better Mousetrap”. Not having a good CTA means no one will purchase your product, request information, call for an appointment or come back to your website. This is when you need to CYA (cover your ass) when those with control of the financial purse strings ask you why nothing is happening. There are many other elements your copy should have besides a CTA, but this article will explore only the CTA.
We recently did an unscientific sampling of websites to find how good or bad the CTA’s were. We chose three random products or services, did a Google search and chose the three sponsored links displayed at the top of the page for each category. (Certain assumptions were made and these are listed at the end of the article.) The three categories were totally random and were not picked for any particular reasons.
Fiber Optic Cables
Of the three websites viewed only one of them had anything resembling a specific Call to Action. Upon arriving at this one site, there was a pop-up that noted no sales tax would be charged on orders outside of the state they are based in. Other than that there was nothing to entice a visitor to prefer buying from one company over the other two. There were no benefits listed on any of the sites that would make us choose one company over the others, there were no testimonials, in short, nothing that would make us patronize one of the three at the exclusion of the other two. In other words, all three failed to have a CTA. Score: CTA: 0 None: 3
Two of the three tire companies had effective websites with good call to actions that would entice a visitor to either purchase right then or spend more time on the site exploring their options. Only one of these used an action word in the CTA, “Find The Best Tires That Match Your Needs”. Action words should always be a part of your CTA. (See HubSpot “How to Write Call to Action Copy that gets Visitors Clicking”) This site and one of the other two also had coupons and deals the user could access from the site. The third had a very small box where the user could find a dealer close by but there was no CTA.
Of the two tire retailers websites we thought were effective, there was no clear winner as to which we would visit. The third, however, did not keep our interests. Score: CTA 2, None 1
Local Bankruptcy Lawyers
The results for the three bankruptcy lawyers were interesting. One had a clear CTA using the action word “Call” combined with another effective word “Free”, “Call for a free consultation”. The second didn’t have a clear “Call to Action” but the phone number was prominently displayed. The third had no CTA and it was difficult to even find the phone number. (This third website had other problems as well making it ineffective.) Of the three categories we reviewed, this was the most telling because each of the three firms were located in the same state and had offices in the same cities. Of the three firms, there was a clear front runner as to the most effective website. Score: CTA 2 None: 1
What conclusions can we make from this unscientific survey? You need to pay attention to your CTA’s when you are writing your website content. Not only should you have one, they should be effective, using action words, be visible, and provide a benefit. When it comes to marketing content, you only have a short time to catch and keep a reader’s interest. Some studies say it is less than fifteen seconds. This means you have to make the most of that time. Of the nine sites we reviewed, only four of them kept and held our interest making us want more.
Have you looked at your website lately and determined if the website content is or isn’t effective? Or do you need to CYA?
Assumptions: Since these were sponsored links we assumed that the user clicking on them was specifically looking for these products or services. Therefore regarding the first category, fiber optics, these companies were targeting people who were looking for a specific item and there may not have been a need for a specific CTA. On some of these websites there were other problems as well that will not be addressed here. We did not look for information on how successful or not successful each of these businesses are, the purpose of this survey was to test the effectiveness of the site in enticing a customer or potential customer to buy. The names and web addresses for these sites were withheld.