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How to improve Online sales with a sharper call to action

John Alexander

There are two important components that can most impact a sales oriented business Web site. Obviously we spend a fair bit of time teaching students how to get the benefit of enormously improved visibility through search engine marketing. But the second component (that some people completely forget about,) is the aspect of being able to compel those new visitors to respond to your Web site. 

1. Your Web site must be easily found by those who are searching on the major search engines. But once you're found;
2. You must include a solid call to action that gets the new visitor to take action and respond.

It is only when both of these two elements are made manifest in your strategy, that you will notice a measurable difference in your online sales. One without the other, just won't have the same impact at all. For example you might have huge volumes of traffic built up using a variety of top strategies, but even if you have 20,000 new visitors per day, it is still possible for a Web site to flop, if all visitors are doing is hitting the back button and if none of that traffic is converting to sales. Or the opposite is also true. You might have a very compelling flow of copy that reads well and would convert great, but what good is that high conversion ratio if only a handful of visitors can find the Web site? So you need both to be easily found and you need good sharp calls to action in your content.

Another aspect that will help is to focus on creating content that you can feel proud of. Something that literally satisfies the reason why the user performed a search in the first place. Search engine marketing that employs fresh, original, high quality or highly useful content that is of true value to the visitor is the smartest way to build success.

Okay, let's talk about how you can sharpen your "call to action" on your high performance pages.

Determine what the objective of your page is first.

In other words, what action can you identify that will meet the objective of making any given page successful?
  • Perhaps you are trying to sell a product.
  • Perhaps your objective might be to gather permission based leads.
  • Perhaps your page needs to instill confidence and set a comfort level and stimulate the desire to purchase.
  • Your objective might just be to get people to pick up the phone and call you at a Toll free number.
  • It might be anything at all, but give it some thought.

Your objective, regardless of whatever it is, needs to be identified first, so that you can ensure your "call to action" fulfills the purpose you are trying to achieve. It is amazing how people sometimes don't really think about their call to action. We sometimes assume people will just automatically know what to do next. But you'll be much more successful if you tell them in plain simple language exactly what you want them to do right on the page so they understand.

Once you know what the call to action is, here are a ten quick tips to keep in mind:  

Tip 1. Give people a non-threatening reason to take action right now.

Tip 2. Write your call to action so that the copy focuses on the visitor and does not focus on you.

Tip 3. Learn how to write your call to action "for voice." (Nearly like a broadcaster writes.)

Let's say you were selling an e-book as a product....and we'll give a couple of examples to demonstrate:

First a bad example: (Read the following bad example out loud)

"In our e-book, we will teach the student how to take advantage of all of the strategies they need for success. How can anyone be sure they will gain the best information from our product? Here's why. We are the experts and we guarantee all of our products. Hurry and buy now!"

Okay, so let's talk about what is wrong and how it might be improved.

  • Notice it does not speak too the reader.
  • Notice the heavy emphasis on terms like "we will teach," "we are the experts," "we guarantee," "our products"
    (These all represent very self focused terms)
  • The dialogue does have the flow that it could have if it was written more focused on the reader.

Okay, now let's change gears and write similar text so that it flows in a more compelling manner. Plus we'll add in the benefit of a guarantee.....

Here is a better example:
(Read the following better example out loud)

"Now just imagine, once you read this e-book, your Web site could be taking more orders online, finding more new customers for you, converting more of your traffic into sales, and making your online business as successful as, or even more successful than, your competition. Plus....did you know you have up to 90 days to decide if this e-book is right for you. That means you don't even need to think about making a decision. Just simply download the e-book right now and start discovering everything you need to know. The important thing is that you start now. Don't wait for your competition to get a head start. Download this e-book today and start using the information today. We've made it simple and affordable, and the rest is up to you."

Okay, now so let's talk about why this works better.

  • Phrases like "Now just imagine" help paint a picture in the mind of the reader.
  • The copy now reads like dialogue or like someone was speaking directly to you.
  • We have added in mention of a guarantee - which removes the feeling of risk.
  • The dialogue flows to convince you to take action now.
  • The dialogue is very visitor focused and mentions "you" much more than "we" or "ours."
  • Non-threatening reason to respond is that you need to take action BEFORE your competitor does.
  • Does not try to "push" the sale but leaves the reader in control by using phrases like "the rest is up to you."
Okay, on with some more tips.....

Tip 4. One of the things you can easily do, is consider checking your Web statistics for busy pages that are already getting traffic in your Web site. Then review each of these individual pages to see if there are ways to enhance or improve the current call to action. Or if there is none, consider adding one in.

Tip 5. Remember to read your Web copy out loud to see how well it flows. Does it flow like dialogue or does it sound more like a sales pitch trying to sell you something. 

Tip 6. Work on the tone of your dialogue so that it reads warmly, nearly like a friend speaking directly to you.

Tip 7. Have you added in some "trust building" factors. If you have a guarantee, be sure you add it in.

Tip 8. If your "call to action" is to get the visitor to make a phone call, try describing the action you want them to take.
Example:  Here's all you need to do. Walk over to the phone and give us a Toll Free call right now at 1-800 XXXXXXXX
Try increasing the size of your Toll Free Phone number and make it real easy to read.

Tip 9. Sometimes you may want to include a few testimonials in with your call to action (depending on what it is.) Some people may never visit a separate testimonial page, but sometimes a testimonial well placed near a call to action will help.

Tip 10. Are you working with all of the benefits in your dialogue? Make sure you are properly describing those benefits so that the emphasis is on the true value of what the reader will get for taking the action.

In Summary:

Remember that y
our objective, regardless of whatever it is, needs to be identified first. Then you can write much sharper sales copy that reads like dialogue and delivers your message so that it flows smoothly. Then, rather than trying to push a sale, it informs the reader of the benefits and leaves them feeling in control. The focus as they say is on "telling" not "selling." Following this tips only requires a little bit of practice but if you have good visibility already in the search engines, sometimes you can improve your sales nearly right away, with just little tiny changes and improvements to your call to action. Best of luck!

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About John Alexander
John Alexander is Co-director of Training at Search Engine Workshops offering live, SEO Workshops with partner Robin Nobles as well as online search engine marketing courses through Online Web Training. John is author of
an e-book called Wordtracker Magic and has taught SEO skills to people from 87 different countries. John's articles can be read in publications like REALTOR Magazine, Search Engine Guide,WEBpro News, SitePro News and many others.

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