Do you have an obvious Call to Action?

A call to action is a method used to encourage customers to proceed. Whether this is to make a purchase or advance to view products, a website needs to guide a customer through the process and steer them to where you want them to go next. Without a call to action, sales can suffer because customers are not encouraged to act. In addition, not having a clear call to action can frustrate users, as they may not understand what they should do and could leave the website in favour of one of your competitors.

The message

All web pages need to have a clear message so that no matter what page customers finds themselves on, they know exactly what the page is about. A landing page, for instance, needs to explain exactly what the website is about. For an eCommerce site, the landing page needs to describe what the website sells and should have clear calls to action to lead customers through the rest of the site, such as where to search for products.

Call to action buttons

By far the best tool to aid a customer's navigation is the call to action button. These need to be prominent and have a clear message, so that customers know that by clicking on these buttons they will be directed to the next stage. Essentially, call to action buttons are just links. However, the secret to their success is the message they convey. For instance, "Add to basket" often works better than "buy now" because people may just want to fill up a shopping cart with items, and then decide whether to buy, rather than feel forced into making a purchase before they have browsed the entire range.

Other aspects of call to action buttons that are important are where they are on the page, their size and even their colour. A call to action button should be the most prominent link/button on any webpage. It shouldn't be buried away in a sidebar or at the bottom of the page, but be above the fold in a clear and prominent position so a customer visiting that page cannot miss it. The text should be clear and concise, conveying exactly what it is the call to action button is for and what the visitor can expect if they click it.

Navigation

A call to action should aid navigation, but it is important to remember that not all users will navigate through a website in the same way. Some users will click back to the homepage after viewing a product rather than use the search bar or categories. You need to plan your calls to action to take this into account. In addition, you need to plan the navigation of your site so that a user won't get lost and be unsure of what to do next. While a prominent "add to basket" button is an important call to action to encourage purchases, making sure you have other prominent links that will enable a visitor to search for other products is also important.

When it comes to a call to action, there is no right or wrong approach. The best way to see what is effective is to test your website and various call to action combinations with users. By testing your calls to action and site navigation, you may discover that some visitors are getting lost in the site, or certain pages have unclear call to actions. Only by doing extensive testing will you discover what works and what doesn't, and don't be afraid to try new things. If you find that your conversion rate is low, think about the wording of your call to action buttons, such as changing "buy now" to "add to basket" or "view product" with "find out more".