Often, the agencies I speak with are too focused on site traffic. Unless you are selling ad space on the site you are building, traffic is most likely a poor indicator of true performance. Using traffic numbers to judge the strength of your site, its pages, and the value of the marketing tools you use to drive prospects to the site will quickly lead you to make bad decisions and will make you susceptible to the innumerable SEO/SEM snake oil practitioners out there.
I propose that, instead of traffic, you focus on action—namely, conversions. If a search engine phrase sends one hundred people to your site each month, but they all bounce off the site after reading a single page, well, that phrase is not really having a positive impact on your business. If another phrase sends fifteen people to your site a month, and four end up converting on one of your calls to action, then that is a phrase that deserves attention. The same logic goes for site pages. The ones with the most traffic are not necessarily as valuable as the ones that drive the most site conversions.
Creating and Managing Effective Calls to Action
So, what makes an effective call to action? Calls to action should follow the three “C” rules: they should be clear, concise, and compelling.
Calls to action need to be clear.
By this, I mean that it should be obvious what it is you are asking of the visitor and what it is they will receive from you. This one is straightforward—think “Subscribe to the Newsletter,” “Sign up for Our Weekly Blog Email Digest,” and “Register for Our Webinar.” Be clear about what you want them to do: “Register,” and what it is they will receive: “...for Our Webinar.”
Calls to action need to be concise.
For the kind of lead generation most agencies seek to implement on their own sites, it is better to get a small amount of key information about many people than a lot of information about a few people. If a newsletter is the content strategy platform you choose to use for your call to action, you do not need anything more than the subscriber’s name (first and last names all in one field, you can auto-split them later), and their email address, as depicted in the image to the right. Getting that prospect’s information is valuable, but the real value is that they will be regularly reminded of who you are and how smart you are through your content strategy. The more prospects you can engage in this sort of relationship, the healthier your pipeline will be.
Calls to action need to be compelling.
It is not uncommon to see agency sites that have calls to action asking visitors to “Subscribe to the Newsletter” without any reference to the actual newsletter itself. Sites like that receive few form submissions. Prospects are unwilling to share their information and simply hope for the best. They need to be convinced that the newsletter you write each month is something they need to receive regularly in order to be effective at their jobs. Your content is what will compel them, and it should be thorough and educational, not sparse and promotional.
This post is an excerpt from my book, "A Website That Works."