Tell Your Visitors What to Do: Effective Calls-to-Action

Have you ever signed up for something like Twitter, Facebook, Pandora, or Dropbox? How about subscribed to a company’s newsletter to get a discount or a magazine to receive your first free issue?  If you have ever signed up for anything, you did so because the company presented you with an effective call-to-action and it worked! Thus, you have personally experienced how persuasive calls-to-action can be and this is precisely why you should be implementing them as part of your marketing strategy.

What Are Calls-to-Action?

Calls-to-action can be found everywhere. You can spot them on websites, on ads, and most recently they have been added as option for Facebook business pages. In any case, the objective of a call-to-action button is to let your visitors know what it is that you are wanting them to do and enabling them to perform this task with the greatest of ease. Otherwise, your visitors will read your content and then leave if the next step they should take is not made clear. Did you know that 70% of businesses don’t display clear calls-to-action on their home pages? If you are one of these businesses, your customers are wandering around your site without direction on what they should do next and you are losing the opportunity to give them something that they are on your site looking for.

Calls-to-Action Are Used to:

  • Subscribe to Email Newsletters
  • Receive Special Discounts
  • Download How-To Guides
  • View Demos and Videos
  • Begin E-Commerce Shopping
  • Contact Companies
  • Access Games
  • Use Apps
  • Set-Up Reservations
  • And more!

A Few Benefits of a Call-to-Action

  • Generates leads- Your visitors are giving you their information because they are interested in something you have to offer. Therefore, you now have their contact information in order to follow up with them on other products or services they might be interested in.
  • Closing a sale- By making sure your call-to-action is inviting and compelling, you can get your visitor to contact a sales representative of your company through a click of a button to get started right away.
  • Social sharing – Instead of getting your follower to download, subscribe, or sign up, you are asking them to share your information with their friends via a social media icon.

What Makes a Call-to-Action Effective?

  • Easy to Find. Simply put, your visitors won’t go looking for something they don’t know is there. Since your call-to-action will be generating you leads, you want it somewhere that first time visitors will certainly see it. You could put it high on your page and centered so that it can’t be missed or you could try putting it in the bottom right corner of your landing page so consumers will naturally move their focus directly to your call-to-action.
  • Visual Appeal. If your call-to-action is cluttered with text that is 10 sizes too small, not enough white space surrounding it, or the colors blend in with the rest of your page, customers won’t be bothered to try to read it. You are on their time, not the other way around. So, make sure that your text is enlarged so that it is easy to read, there is plenty of white space to separate it from the busyness of your page, and that your colors are contrasting enough to stand out and grab the visitor’s attention.
  • Compelling Action Word. By using terms such as Subscribe Now, Sign Up, Contact Us, Shop Now, etc. You are encouraging your visitor to do something (to act), as well as providing familiarity with words and actions they have taken on sites before yours.
  • Clear and Concise. As a customer you wouldn’t want to “Submit Now” if you didn’t know what exactly you are submitting information for. If you don’t make the process as clear and easy as possible, your visitor will assume that it is untrustworthy, too much of a hassle, or too confusing and won’t complete the process.
  • Reason to Act. Before your visitor will provide any information about themselves to your company, they are going to ask “what’s in it for me?” Therefore, your visitor may need a little extra push to get them to act. For example, many companies use their call-to-action to offer a free trial or free consultation.  Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” is a great example of persuading customers to subscribe to buying a product, and in return they receive a discount on future purchases of that product that other buyers buying it one time don’t receive.
  • Requires Timely Response. You can successfully motivate your visitors to “Act Now” if you inform them that your offer will only be good for a limited time or that your coupon will expire on a certain date. While it sounds more customer/business friendly to always keep the offer on the table, it gives the customer time to think and talk themselves out of acting on your offer. Whereas stating that your offer will only be available for so long, excites them to commit before they miss out.
  • Uncomplicated Process. The easier the entire process is from start to finish, the higher rate of completion you will have. For example, the more fields that you require to be filled in by your visitor may overwhelm and frustrate them to the point that they will quit and leave your site before submitting. Let whatever possible require completely voluntary information to fill in and give to your company. Subsequently, your visitor will be more likely to do business with a company that doesn’t force them to do anything that they don’t want to.

Think of your call-to-action as directions for your customer. When you have had a hard time reaching a business location to get what you want, your experience is not as pleasant as it could have been. Unburden your customer by doing the work for them upfront and giving them instructions on what and how they should go about their next step in getting what they need from you. The easier and more compelling your call-to-action is, the wider your customer funnel will be.

For further review, check out these really superb 21 Call-to-Action Examples.

Did we leave out a tip that has made your call-to-action effective? Tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

How to Deal with Negative Feedback: A Guide for When You “Can’t Even.”

You might be here because you are new to the business world and want to be prepared to handle anything that comes your way. On the other hand exists the possibility that you are here because you have encountered that one customer, who practically read the handbook of how to get under your skin, and you weren’t sure how to handle the situation in the best possible and professional manner. Here’s the most important thing you need to always keep in mind: Customer service is the pillar that holds up your business. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you can’t possibly please everybody 100% of the time. Subsequently, those you fail to please will not have a problem telling you (and anyone else who will listen) about it. Thus enters the importance of learning how to handle negative feedback with integrity, class, and professionalism.

The Power of Customer Service

Online reviews and your word of mouth reputation can literally make or break your company. With the multitude of online shoppers, it is more important than ever to not only respond to negative comments about your product or service in a timely manner, but to do it in a way that doesn’t further damage your brand. Nobody looks forward to addressing an unhappy customer, because if your customers aren’t happy then you’re not happy. However, it is a necessary evil that you cannot just sweep under the rug and expect it to go away. People may forget with time but that scathing review is eternally posted online for future customers to read.  Instead, think of responding to negative comments as an opportunity to rescue your customer from the dark side and bring them back. That is, if you can successfully convince them to give you another chance. After reading this guide, you will know how to make it easier for your customer to forgive you (even if it’s not your fault).

The Situation

You received a negative review where your customer, albeit who might be potentially exaggerating just a tiny bit, left a public comment regarding their complete and utter dissatisfaction with your product or service.

The Solution

 Begin by looking at the problem from the customer’s perspective. Rather than impulsively responding, try listening to them and genuinely trying to understand their feelings about what went wrong. It is too easy to get overly defensive about a product or service you care enough about to be representing. Once you have grasped their issue, acknowledge the problem and take responsibility for it. Immediately apologize and offer to take action in order to resolve the issue and restore trust in your relationship.

The customer doesn’t enjoy this, either.  

Usually, when a customer has to write a bad review of your company, they view it as an inconvenience. So, take into account the possibility that your company really did screw up and that they aren’t writing a bad review for no reason at all. Regardless, remember the saying “the customer is always right”? Well, that is because they are. You OWE it to them to correct anything that went wrong with their transaction (within your realm of control). Otherwise, you will not only be losing their business but the business of ten of their friends (sort-of-speak).

After you have written your response:

Read it from your customer’s perspective as well as your potential new customers’ perspective when they go to read reviews about your company prior to deciding to do business with you. Because the likelihood of them siding with your company over a fellow customer is slim, acknowledge and take responsibility for the bad just as you would the good. Even if you believe the customer is wrong, refrain from adding gasoline to the fire by publicly responding with your thoughts on the matter. The only REAL thing that matters is how you can make the situation better, so don’t backtrack for the sake of trying to prove them wrong.

Knock, Knock. Who’s there? KUDOS! 

Responding to a negative review is an excellent time to explain and/or clarify any misunderstandings. For example, there is a company online that sells a doorknocker. 3 out of 5 reviewers had deducted stars, on the site in which they purchased the product, because the doorknocker had four holes but only came with two screws. Now, the company had added on to one of their product photos by drawing two arrows to the designated and labeled “screw holes” and two arrows to the “design holes (no screws)”. Yet, the customers who overlooked this were disappointed when they only received two screws when they were under the impression that they needed four.

This would be a fantastic opportunity for this company to clarify what happened and even take responsibility for not clearly explaining the screw-to-hole controversy in the description, rather than on one of the many product photos, since there is the possibility that the consumer won’t cycle through all of your product photos prior to purchase. After explaining (and improving your future customer’s experience by making the necessary changes), the customer might be moved to change their negative review to one that puts your company in a much more positive light. Don’t wait for your customers to figure it out for themselves because they may never do so. Likewise, don’t rely on other customers to clarify for you because their knowledge on the subject does not hold credibility and may be overlooked as well. You are the only one that will be listened to as the prime explanation because only you hold authority  on your product and services.

Do whatever it takes to resolve the situation, when possible.

  • If a customer is upset about the condition in which they received their product, swiftly ask to replace it for them with zero hassle. Even if the customer rejects your offer, other customers reading your company’s response will realize that when your company does mess up, you are at least willing to make good on your promise for customer satisfaction.
  • If the customer dislikes their experience as a result of a company policy, there isn’t much you can change about that. You can, however, show your willingness to explain to them why that policy is in place and why your company must enforce it. In doing so, you are helping reduce their frustration by shedding light on why there isn’t anything else you could have done to prevent this situation from occurring.

Give thanks.

A negative review can actually be a good thing for your company. First, it gives you a chance to improve not only your customer service skills but also whatever it was that made the experience unpleasant for your customer. You are only a business because of your customer, so be sure to take in to account all of the feedback you receive from them and repair any issues that you possibly can to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. Be thankful that they took the time to review your product or service and provided you with a chance to improve your company and prevent future bad experiences from occurring. You’re welcome, future customers! Second, when a customer sees nothing but positive reviews, it can dehumanize your company and make it seem like you might have purchased those reviews (i.e., faked them). So don’t get too down in the dumps if you don’t receive consistent 5 star reviews. Similarly, letting others review negative customer feedback and your company’s response will provide for more transparency and trust.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If you or someone in your company is aware of a problem that will likely contribute to future negative feedback, make sure that it is voiced before there is an opportunity for a bad reaction. You will reduce the possibility of a negative review if you go ahead and fix any bugs in the system before your customer has a chance to bring them up publicly.  You cannot prevent anything bad from happening ever, but you can reduce the occurrence and strengthen your business. When bad times do occur, and they will, it is what you learn from your mistakes that matters most.

At the end of the day, your customers can at least rest easy knowing that they will receive valuable customer service, if not completely satisfied.

Do you have a customer service experience that you would like to share? Leave your story in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

Word of Mouth Interrogation: Getting Happy Customers to Talk

When you purchase a product or service and it works as advertised, you don’t rush to tell your best friend, write a riveting review for the company online, or shout your happiness from the top of a mountain. Why is this? Because you and everyone else out there expects a product to work or a service to be as good as it is advertised. This makes it completely unsurprising when things work out the way they are supposed to and leaves you yearning to do nothing more than personally enjoy your purchase.  Yet, when you are on the receiving end of particularly horrible service at a restaurant or you realize the product that you just made it home from the store with is already broken, you are shocked and appalled that a company enabled a less than exceptional customer experience.

So, as an unhappy customer, what do you do?

You throw down as much eternal wrath and fury as humanly possible from your keyboard (of course!) so that everyone from your mother to people you have never met across the globe may be spared from feeling betrayed by a company you trusted enough to purchase from.  Just think back to the products you have bought, have you really bothered to go write a review for the ones that work just fine? Probably not. When a product works as expected, it doesn’t really stick out as anything out of the ordinary and so the customer is just not usually moved to talk about it— unless it is like their favorite thing. Ever.

That doesn’t seem very fair, does it?

For a business, it seems a little backwards that by doing everything right and working hard to keep your customers happy that your business isn’t getting as much publicity as it would if you had made a negative impact.  While you may have heard bad publicity might be helpful for otherwise unknown companies, please trust us when we say that there are SO many better ways for you to make a lasting (positive) impression on your audience.

What is the trick to getting happy customers to talk?

You have to reward your customers in some way to get them motivated to speak positively about your business and get that word of mouth power flowing. We have three words for you: Customer Referral Program. By offering discounts and incentives, you are giving a reason to the customer to go spread the word about your company.  Your customers will certainly go and tell 10 of their friends if something is “in it for them”.

This process bodes very well for your company because you now have a customer who is doing your marketing for you and it’s mutually beneficial to your customer because it’s like making a little bit of commission off of the sale to go and spend at YOUR company. So, not only do you have the customer selling your product or service for you, but you are ensuring that they are going to come back to you to spend what they earned!  

How do Customer Referral Programs work?

One example of this type of program is that you could give new customers referral cards with the customer’s name on them (and a spot for the person’s name that they give the card to) that let them know that if they hand those cards to someone they know and that person becomes a new customer, the referrer and the referral will both get a $50.00 credit toward their next purchase when that card is turned in to your company. This not only rewards both the referrer and the referral, providing a double incentive to motivate new referral sign-ups, but it also provides your company with an easy way to track your referrals and ensure that you are delivering on your promise and that everyone is reaping their rewards. Of course, you will need to adjust the amount of credit you are using as an incentive as it is compared to the price of the product or service you are selling. That is, a $50.00 off may work for a $500.00 product, but it isn’t going to do much in enticing customers for a $5000 service. Simply put, the bigger the price the bigger the incentive.    For more examples of customer referral programs, check out this epic list.

Another referral program mistake is not promoting your referral program adequately. Make sure that all of your sales associates are informing new customers, that it is going out in your email blasts or on your direct mailing on the regular, and that it is posted inside your physical place of business.

Implementing a customer referral program will increase your marketing campaign via word of mouth, keep your business on the tip of everyone’s tongue, keep customers flocking your way, and keep them eager to recommend you because of their great experience. After all, happy wife customers, happy life.

Did you come across an awesome customer referral program that you’d like to share or have any questions about ours? Share your thoughts in the section below, we’d love to hear from you!


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