Moments of Truth: Let’s cut to the chase

The reason businesses do anything on the Internet is to sell something.

The sale may not have to happen today, but it has to happen someday. This means that eventually we have to lead people to a “moment of truth” when we find out if we can turn a prospect into a client or customer. But, in fact, there are usually several moments of truth that lead up to the final decision, so let’s look at those (to make sure we have them) and examine some of the attributes that make them succeed or fail.

Calls to Action

First, a call to action is when you try to get someone to do something. It could be as non-committal as clicking on a link to get additional information or as weighty as pushing a Buy-Now button and entering payment information. A call to action is placed on any web page or within any email.

Your job is to understand what it is you want your prospect to do and be able to communicate that in a clear, compelling, and appropriate way. This sounds simple enough, but in practice, it isn’t.

Avoid the High Jump

One principle you need to understand is that you can’t expect prospects to make a big commitment to you or your business very quickly. Trust needs to be built up over time. A relationship takes time to develope.

However, every relationship starts by taking a “first step,” so even at the beginning there is going to be a call to action required. This first step – sometimes called a trip wire – may be to ask prospects to allow you to send them information or even click to an information page on your website. The information you offer could be about your product or service, or about their general industry or something that interests them.

So how do you get Someone to Take Those First Baby Steps?

  1. Explain your offer in a few simple words. People don’t spend a lot of time on web pages or reading emails. You have to get right to the point. You may think that you have 100 great things to say about what you do and your evidence is so overwhelming that people will be completely convinced by the time they get to item number 100. Unfortunately, they won’t invest the time. Also, keep your language at an eighth grade level to make reading easy.
  2. Don’t make people scroll. If your call to action isn’t “above the fold” many visitors will never see it. If you have a talented writer and great web designer, you may design a page that makes people want to scroll down. But think of each time you want someone to scroll down as a mini-call-to-action. You give them information that compels them to scroll a little to see what comes next. By the way, with the first email you send a prospect, make sure it is extremely brief, no more than one to three very short paragraphs. You just want recipients to take a first step.
  3. You make responding to the call to action a no-brainer. By “no-brainer” I mean that it’s easy and people don’t have to think very much to respond. Label buttons in a way that expresses exactly what the person is doing or getting by pressing it. For example, if I’m offering “10 Excel Secrets,” I would label my button, “Get the 10 Excel Secrets.”
  4. Use social proof. People don’t know you, so why should they trust you? You can overcome this by offering social proof – good things other people have said about your product or service. This could be quotes or ratings. It’s the same logic attorneys use when they put character witnesses on the stand during trials.
  5. Describe benefits, not features. When you’re close to a product or service, it’s easy to get carried away by all of its features. If you push those as you lead a prospect to your call to action, you won’t have good results. Prospects want to know how your offer will make their lives better. The fancy bells and whistles are secondary.
  6. Include an element of time. Many of us need that extra little kick in the pants to take action. Encourage people to do something “now” or “today.” Whenever possible, give a deadline, such as, “This offer ends on Friday.”

These guidelines apply no matter where you’re using calls to action, so always keep them in mind. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website looks, or how well designed your newsletter is. It’s the response you get from your calls to action that ultimately determine your Internet marketing success.