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November 24, 2008

Your Website Doesn’t Need A Traditional Call To Action

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The other day I received two emails, both with the same question, why didn’t we have a direct call to action on our website?

Sales people are taught, you always need ‘a call to action,’ a request to act or lose the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m sure you’ve seen the infomercials, website presentations, online direct marketing come-ons, and even high-pressure seminar and tradeshow presentations that will never be repeated, so you better act now. You’re familiar with the language used: “act now and we’ll send you two pieces of junk you don’t need, but wait there’s more, call in the next ten minutes and we’ll add a third useless item.”

Does any intelligent person really respond to this kind of pitch, and what self-respecting business would actually behave in this manner? The fact is, if you sell something of value at a reasonable price, and you treat your customers with some respect, you will get your share of business. You may not get all the business, nobody does, but the business you do get, will result in more satisfied customers, more word-of-mouth referrals, and ultimately more sales. High-pressure tactics, and demands for instant commitment, frighten off as many potential clients as they ensnare.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Statistically it may be true that if someone leaves your website without ordering, the chances of them returning to order are low, but as Shakespeare’s Cassius said, “the fault, dear Brutus lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” The problem is NOT the customer; it’s what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, and the expectations you’ve set for determining your site’s performance.

Success is not a question of attracting more traffic, especially if your message is weak, unfocused, and lacking in emotional context. Success is a question of how many people you connect with both directly and indirectly, and how many people come back to your site because they are intrigued by what you have to say.

To start, many products and services are either too complex or too high valued to expect people to make an instant decision; and demanding one just frightens people away. Asking for an order is asking a lot, and leads to resistance. Inviting someone to call or email is reassuring and friendly; it’s an offer to communicate, provide assistance, advice, and information, and it’s easily accepted.

Orders are the result of building relationships and relationships are built on communication. You may not be able to speak to everyone who comes to your website but that only means that your website’s primary job is to communicate what needs to be said so that it makes a memorable impression, and provides something more meaningful than a ‘buy now’ button.

E-Commerce Gone Bad

The e-commerce industry with it’s easy to implement technical solutions has created a class of entrepreneurs who think all they have to do is display a product photo, description, price, and order button, and the sales will follow. This approach may work for mega sites like Amazon.com but it’s not going to work for you. You’ve got to be smarter than that.

When small and medium sized companies try to emulate major corporate business models, they are looking for trouble. It’s one reason why so many websites are so bad, and why so many under perform.

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman didn’t do entrepreneurs a favor when they wrote, “In Search of Excellence.” What they should have written was ‘In Search of Failure,’ since we learn more from things that don’t work than from things that do. In the world of Internet marketing, creating websites that are nothing more than online catalogs, digital brochures, or direct marketing come-ons, is a waste of time and money, not to mention all that effort devoted to attracting website traffic.

Redefine Successful Website Performance

Orders are not the true measure of a website’s success. Nor is the volume of traffic a site attracts. You can have loads of traffic, but little of it ever gets turned into business, and you can even get some orders, but few long-term clients.

The primary objective of your website should be to initiate contact either by email, phone, or in the case of brick and mortar companies, store traffic. In order to achieve that objective, your website presentation must be engaging, enlightening, and above all memorable. Potential clients want a little foreplay, a little respect, and an understanding that you are asking them to put their faith in you.

Marketing Is More Art Than Science

Marketing is about human nature, and the idea that all aspects of human nature can be quantified, and that meaningful results can be extracted and formed into an action plan guaranteed to produce results, is simply over-reaching. The human brain is far too complex, and human motivation is the result of far too many interdisciplinary factors to be boiled down into a unified mathematical formula. The movie and music industries have been trying for years, and still neither one can accurately predict what will be a hit.

In an effort to always maximize productivity, business has bowed-down to the false idol of statistical razzle-dazzle, and succumb to its faux extrapolations. As a consequence business, and especially Web-business, has forsaken insight, intuition, and a ‘consilience*’ approach to marketing, one built on continuous creative experimentation and implementation.

*Consilience: “the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory” – Merriam-webster.com.

Three Website Ingredients Needed To Motivate Action

Donna Flagg of the Krysalis Group is quoted in the article, ‘For the Love of Sales,’ published in the online magazine “Selling Power”: “Good selling comes down to three things: communication, education, and the ability to affect others.”

I know of no better method to achieve these three goals than to implement video on your website, it is THE must have marketing vehicle for companies intent on maximizing website presentation impact.

The Center for Media Research reported in their recent ‘Research Brief’ that 42.6% of retailers surveyed were adding product videos to their websites. And the power of video marketing is not just about sales; it’s about how you as a business communicate in the most efficient manner to all your concerned publics.

“Video’s importance transcends the customer experience.  It can transform every aspect of an organization, from sales, marketing and communications to investor relations, employee training and education. ” – David Dutch’s MediaPost “Online Video: Redefining How Business Connects With Their Customers”.

1 Communication – Engage
Your websites serves no purpose unless it engages your viewer and communicates a meaningful, memorable message. A video presentation uses sights, sounds, and performance to produce psychological persuasion.

2 Education – Enlighten
A message delivered using creative video presentation techniques is seen, heard, and embedded in the audience’s mind. It informs, explains, clarifies, and focuses attention on the key decision making elements that produce leads, and ultimately sales.

3 Affect Your Audience – Create An Experience
A properly crafted Web video makes a human connection, it affects the viewer on a psychological as well as rational level, so that the message delivered resonates and impacts the decision making process.

About Those Emails

You may be wondering how I answered the emails mentioned earlier; the simple answer is if a marketing presentation is intriguing enough, your audience will respond, and in this case, both visitors did exactly what our website is designed to do, get people to email or phone so that we can open a dialog with them, so we can get to know each other, so we can start to build a productive business relationship, and we do it using video – the media is the message.

It is time businesses employ a new Web-philosophy, one that is aimed at turning advertising into content, and content into an experience. And I know of no better way to create an online experience than to employ Web video.

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.

One Response to “Your Website Doesn’t Need A Traditional Call To Action

    Please see article on http://www.WeddingVideoDoneRight.com that totally rebuts this article.

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