The Two Things Most Businesses Could Do Better

Posted by Elizabeth Paulsen on 21 November 2014

Every day I’m reviewing how small to medium-sized businesses are marketing their services and products through electronic means.  Some are only using email and others are using Google My Business (formerly Google Maps and formerly Google Local) pages and review sites like Angie’s List and CitySearch and others are doing it all – website, blog, local listings, review site listings, email newsletters, social media, photo sharing sites, text promotions, and custom web applications, you name it.

However, over and over again I see that they:

1) treat each of these strategies as a completely separate marketing channel (offer no links inviting the visitor to the other channels) and

2) either have no clear "call-to-action" or so many "calls-to-action" that the viewer is overloaded and fails to interact with the business altogether.

Note: Stated most simply, a "call-to-action" is the business' guidance to the viewer so that he/she knows how to start a relationship with the business.  It could be as simple as a "Buy Now" button or link to "Make a reservation now".

To fix this costs no extra money.  It is simply a matter of thinking about how to let the viewer know how they can find more information by linking to each of the other marketing channels that are available without obscuring the key "call-to-action" and then laying out each communication so that the key "call-to-action" is the most prominently displayed information on the page and the links to the other marketing channels (marketing platforms) are more subtly placed and formatted.

The key questions are:

1) Is the information on this page, graphic or email persuasive?  If no, then make it persuasive.

2) If yes, are we sending the persuaded viewer away from the page, graphic or email before he/she knows what the "call-to-action" is?  If yes, change this flow so that they get the "call-to-action" before leaving the page.

3) Does the viewer follow the "call-to-action"? If no, make some adjustments to the layout of the page.  If yes, you’ve got what you were after and know what to do in the other marketing channels.

All too often web pages appear to have "calls-to-action" that are not really their most highly desired action.  For example, many business place links to their social media pages prominently and highly on their web pages.  This begs the question of "Does the business want the visitor to leave the page before he/she has even seen what is offered on the page?"  If no, then the links to social media should be placed lower on the page.

Other times the most prominent action appears to be to download a free white paper or sign up for an e-mail newsletter.  While these can be good methods for securing prospect contact information for follow up by phone or email, these actions typically don't lead to a quick sale or contact.

Other times a phone number appears in large bold font when really the business would prefer that people complete a contact form that is emailed to the business.  And yet the business' form can only be found accidentally when someone clicks "Contact Us" in the navigation and then they scroll down a screen or two.

Several studies have been performed to demonstrate the need to have a clear, prominently placed "call-to-action".  And the results experienced by our clients prove this again and again.  Plus, the customers and clients of our clients have reported that their frustration with the business was reduced when they could easily find how to take the next step with the business.  "If only all businesses made it so easy!"

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth, president of Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc., lives and works in SeaTac, WA. Helping small businesses succeed on the web is her specialty.  Join Elizabeth on Google+.

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