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The Power of a Strong Call-to-Action (CTA)

The Call-to-Action is actually a command, an instruction, or a motivation to take some immediate action, and an invitation to take another step in the sales process.

Marketers have long understood the value and importance of a strong and powerful Call-to-Action (CTA, for short).  It’s not enough to simply present an offer and leave the final decision on what to do next to the prospect.  Marketing tests show that “nudging” or encouraging the prospect to take the next step by clicking the “buy now” button is very important.  That final step in moving the prospect from the offer itself to the “action” page should never be left out.

Of course the action you’re pushing for could be anything:  a free sign-up to an email list, a free lead magnet offer, the purchase of a paid product, asking for a “like” or a “share” on social media, or simply directing the viewer to a new page or web site.  Whatever action you want must be clearly spelled out as you “call” or command the viewer to do something next.

Successful online marketers understand the power of guiding (taking the prospect by the hand and leading him to take the next logical action step) the potential customer toward making a purchase once the sales offer has been presented in full.

I would like to offer some ideas or suggestions on how the make you next CTA a more powerful sales agent (an “unpaid” employee, so to speak, working on your behalf.

First, be sure that your CTA is direct, specific, and detailed enough that there’s no question about what action you want the prospect to take next!  Trust, credibility and being believable are very important for any kind of marketing, so think about using any supporting material you can think of . . . like statistics, percentages, endorsements, testimonials, other social proof, etc.  Your prospects will see you as a more credible marketer when you use supporting data and facts that make your case stronger.

Second, coupons, sales, and freebies can be a part of any CTA.  They usually increase the perceived value of an offer.  They often motivate people sitting on the fence who are not able to make a decision.  A flash sale, a one-time coupon, and even quantity discounts can be just what a CTA needs to move a non-committing prospect.

Here’s an example:  instead of simply ending your sale page with “Click Here” or “Buy Now” . . . you might want to say something like “Get this Free training that has been increasing my sales conversions by 50% this past month!”  Or something similar – be creative and come up with your own hot idea to add value and power to your next CTA!

Third, add the principle of urgency to your CTA.  Many would-be purchasers are in a hurry, a rush, or are anxious to get on with life.  If you don’t give the prospect good reasons to buy now . . . he probably won’t buy at all.  But here’s a caution – most marketer’s overdo this principle and insult the intelligence of the buyer in the mean time.  We all hear many marketing messages on every form of media telling us that we have to act fast before the offer is gone forever!  People see right through fake or false urgency and when they do . . . often they feel manipulated and not inclined to buy from you as a self-serving merchant.

If there is a buying deadline, tell prospects exactly what it is (i.e. Friday at 10:00pm Eastern time.)  Tell prospects why it is important to “act now.”

Instead of saying “download your free copy” of something, provide a specific number or quantity that will be available.  You might say it this way:  “Hurry, there are only 25 copies being given away!”  It’s important that the marketer follow through and be truthful about the CTA happening as stated.  Don’t give away 100 copies if you said you were going to give away 25.  Be honest and up-front as some people will check to see if you are good for you word!  Sure, everyone knows that there is no limit to the number of digital copies a merchant can produce; but you can give a valid reason why you are choosing to limit what is available right now.

Fourth, be sure to make the CTA simple and uncomplicated.  Only promise one offer, one gift, or one solution at a time.  Too many results complicates the CTA and sometimes confuses the buyer.  If you want to add additional “goodness” to any offer, do it after the fact (for example, on the download page or as a “surprise unannounced bonus.”  It’s best to keep the CTA short and impactful (hard hitting).

Fifth, only give one command in the CTA, otherwise you stand a good chance of making it boring and not so urgent or special.  Don’t ask the prospect to do more than one thing – like visit multiple web sites, remember multiple facts, or take a series of actions.

Sixth, make the CTA stand out!  Boring, run-of-the-mill, vanilla or “lazy” CTAs don’t cut it these days.  We are all bombarded with hundreds, even thousands of marketing messages each day and it is easy for a prospect to filter out or ignore bland or routine CTAs.

Often the design or graphical elements used in the offer’s CTA can make it really “pop” and be something that is difficult to ignore.  It can grab attention and direct a prospect to take quick action if it is motivating!

There is a big difference between a small narrative link that is black and says “Click Here” compared to a large red button, a pretty model pointing to it, and a CTA that entices the prospect to “Download 101 Tips Guaranteed to Triple Your Online Sales.”

Seventh, be extremely clear and straightforward in “commanding” the prospect in whatever action you want him to take next.  Remember, one action only per CTA.  Make the CTA easy to understand, easy to execute, and easy to justify as being the next logical step in the buying progression.

Eighth, keep track of all your CTAs and split test them so that you can compare their performance based on facts rather than hunches!  It will pay you dividends to track how well various CTAs perform and keep a swipe file on hand so you can use the best ones over and over in your marketing.  Just use split testing and keep all other variables of the offer constant when testing the CTA.

I hope these eight suggestions will make sense to you.  Crafting a powerful and valuable CTA is not really a difficult thing.  But like everything else in online marketing, going the extra mile to create, test, and offer a high converting CTA could pay you handsome dividends in your sales results.  Yes, great CTAs can take a little bit of work, some creativity, and testing, but often they can also make a noticeable difference in your marketing results . . . so don’t underestimate the power of an enticing CTA!

To your online business success,

Steve Browne

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Are Your Marketing Fears Real?

It’s been over 40 years since I earned a Master’s Degree, entered the workforce, and began dealing with small businesses on a daily basis.  That’s a fair amount of time helping business owners to be profitable, to expand, and ultimately to create jobs in the local economy here in central Utah.

I only say this so you’ll know what I’m about to tell you is not a guess, or a hunch, or just something I’ve read somewhere. It comes from years of daily exposure to small business owners and the personal struggles they have had to overcome. My own challenges in Internet marketing include most or all of these same fears that they have had and that you may be experiencing right now.

Every business owner has fears!  Fears serve an important purpose.  But fears are mostly irrational.  Fears usually hold us back and they must be controlled if we are to move forward in our businesses.

Here is my list of 10 very common marketing and business owner fears:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of the unknown or the future condition of your market
  • Fear of technology
  • Fear of being ridiculed
  • Fear of being rejected
  • Fear of law suits, judgements, or legal entanglements
  • Fear that your advice, product, or service isn’t worthy or “good enough”
  • Fear of breaking rules or conventions (accepted methods and practices)
  • Fear of competition or of big business putting you out of business
  • Fear of success (yes, this is very real to some people!)

(I’m sure there are others, but these I have witnessed firsthand in many business owners!)
Fears are simply an emotional response to a perceived threat.  They are the brain’s natural answer to warn us of potential danger in our environment.  Some fears are rational and justified.  The fear of heights, for example, is very common and serves to warn us that extra precaution may be important to our safety.

Other fears are irrational.  Fear of being struck by lightning is very common yet the National Safety Council gives the odds of a human lightning strike during your lifetime as 1 in 126,158.  (BTW, only about 20% of those struck by lightning die from it.)  The odds of death due to heart disease is 1 in 7 (that’s a fear that can motivate you to change), death by firearm is 1 in 7,059, death by hornets-wasps-bees is 1 in 71,107, and death by dog bite is 1 in 122,216.


What I want to tell you is that nearly all the fears (related to doing business) that I have had myself, and that I have observed in thousands of business owners, are very real to them but nearly always no danger actually exists!

Most people react to fear in one of two ways.  We confront the fear and try to overcome it (“fight”) or we flee from the fear thinking it might go away (“flight”).  You might be familiar with the phrase “fight or flight.”

Well I’m here to tell you there’s a third reaction to fear in Internet marketing.  Let’s call it “freeze” and add it to “fight” and “flight.”  We become paralyzed by our fears (“freeze”) to the point that we simply stop moving forward and do nothing.  You know, the “deer in the headlights” syndrome.

My advice to you is that most of our business fears are unfounded.  We worry and fret and stew over the fact that we might be ridiculed if we put ourselves out there, or a few customers will reject us (ask for a refund), or that we don’t know how to do something.

I have seen, first hand, businesses being flushed down the toilet simply because the owner froze when he met a technological challenge. Others have been stopped in their tracks because they didn’t believe their product was good enough or they were afraid to write on a topic because they weren’t an expert in the field.

You are not alone in your fears.  Confront them.  Get help if you need to in order to move on.  There is no actual danger to justify your fear.  Persist.  Figure out a way around, through, or over your business obstacles including your fears.

Here are several hints on how to overcome your fears from Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).  Read them.  Put them into practice.  They will give you strength and at least a little bit of courage.

12 Thoughts to Overcoming Your Fears

  1. “Fear always springs from ignorance.”
  2. “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
  3. “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
  4. “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”
  5. “Without ambition one starts nothing.  Without work one finishes nothing.  The prize will not be sent to you.  You have to win it.”
  6. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.”
  7. “Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.”
  8. “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”
  9. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
  10. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
  11. “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.”
  12. “Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Master your fears or they will certainly hold you back.  Internet marketing presents the business owner with a lot of new and unfamiliar tasks and procedures.  A lot of it is frightening and most of it is intimidating.  But you can do this!  Others have and so will you.

To your online business success!

Steve Browne


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What to Do if Folks Just Don’t Respond

One of the most frustrating aspects of web business is trying to figure out problems to customer response rates on your web site. Why are my customers getting lost online? Why are they not responding to my ads? Why are my offers being ignored?

The challenge of this puzzle is figuring out what parts of the web site need to be fixed.

Is it the offer itself? Are my navigation signals unclear? Is my offering price too high? Is my offer language boring or uninspiring? Is there a problem with my ordering system?

You see, it seems that there are an endless number of little variables that could be hindering sales at the web site. Often, trying to figure out where the roadblocks are is a difficult and frustrating exercise.

If you are not getting the kind of customer web site response you think you should have, there are a number of starting points that you should consider in order to get to the root of the problem.

  • First, know your web site. Be aware of the traffic patterns of your online visitors. You can track where the clicks on your site are happening. You may find that your navigation is confusing – a real problem. Confused visitors are frustrated visitors who are not in the mood to buy anything. If your customer is confused about your web site, she might believe that your products will be confusing as well.
  • Lead your customer by the hand into taking the action that you want. Tell them or show them where you want them to go next. The “call to action” is one of the most important parts of your visitor ordering system. There should be no doubt about the progression of your intended path through the sale.
  • Make buying easy. If you have a long sales page, strategically place “buy now” buttons throughout the text. Sometimes the customer is ready to buy early on, sometimes mid-way through the offer, and often, not until the very end. Most of your clicks to purchase will come from the first and last opportunity, but your intermediate buttons will also get clicks. The point is, you want the customer to be able to pull the trigger when he is ready, regardless of where he is on the sales page. If he has to wait until the very end of the dialogue, there is a good chance the sale may be lost.
  • Be dramatic and bold with your buttons. Don’t leave any doubt as to how to respond to your offer or your direction to a resource or link. Don’t hide these jumping off points in ordinary text or tiny graphics. Leave no doubt about where the prospect needs to click to get somewhere.
  • Many web businesses don’t take the opportunity to follow up on a customer action with an email. Whether it’s a “thank you” email for subscribing to a mailing list or a “this is what to do next” follow up to a download, you need to take every opportunity to maintain and enhance your contact with the customer or prospect. So many businesses fail in this regard. Customers will notice your concern if you always follow up on their actions. This practice alone will set you apart from 95% of the competition. Yes, it’s a little more work to do this, but the results will be more than worth the extra effort.
  • Remember to offer options. Maybe your customers aren’t buying because they would like to try something out before committing to high price tag. Can you give them a two-week trial offer as an alternative to the full price offer? Can you give them a price point that’s significantly less than the regular price for a “lite” version? Sure, you want to try to get full price for a sale – but getting something is always preferable to getting nothing. And if the customer is pleased with his initial purchase, it will be that much easier getting her to come back to order the full version and even more!
  • Always test, test, test. It is really surprising what a little testing will do. Sometimes simply changing a color, a button placement, a new headline, or a little added text will mean a 100% increase in a response rate. It’s true! The only way you’re going to know what little tweaks will help your conversion is to test one thing against another and track results. Of course you know that there is a proper and a wrong way to test variables. That lesson is for another day . . . but just remember . . . testing and tracking will often turn money losing offers into money winning offers. Likewise, good results can be tweaked into becoming outstanding results.
  • Don’t be afraid to up-sell or cross-sell once a customer has pulled the trigger. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of the immediate time following a web site sale. To simply tell the customer “thank you” and leave him on a dead end page is to lose the opportunity to make additional money. The best strategy is to offer a very related product, a longer term, a deluxe version of what was just purchased, a greater supply of the product, a customer discount to an affiliated service, or membership in a “club” or user group.
  • One good way to jump into the customer’s shoes is to actually ask the customer for feedback on varying aspects of his web or buying experience. Ask if she has questions about a product or service. Ask if the price was the reason a prospect didn’t buy. Ask if any of your instructions were unclear or hard to understand. Feedback on why a prospect didn’t buy is invaluable because the chances are very high that other folks are feeling the same way.
  • Have a path to follow for those that say “no.” In other words, if a prospect is not ready to pull the trigger with your call to action on this visit, you should have an alternative path for him to get something else from you. Don’t let the customer leave empty-handed. Surely there is some kind of value that you can give the non-buyers for stopping by your shop. It could be a free download of “tips” in your niche, it could be a trial offer of a product, or it might simply be direction to a related resource. Whatever you decide, make sure the customer feels that her visit was worth the time and effort. You want the prospect to have a reason to come by again.
  • The internet is a great place to scan, but often a lousy place to read long copy. Given the choice, most people would rather read a physical book than sit at the computer screen and scroll through an online book. Think about it – when you come to a computer screen with lots of text, what do you do? Don’t you tend to do a quick scan to see if there are headings or bullet points or underlined text so that you can get the jist of what’s going on without having to suffer through reading everything? Most folks are that way, by far! I’m suggesting you cater your delivery of information to the style of the reader. Offer summaries, headings, bullet lists, shortened text, etc.
  • Here’s my last point for this installment: keep everything simple and brief. Don’t force the customer to do too much. Remember “easy,” “short,” “simple,” “summary,” “brief,” etc. When you ask for information, keep it to a minimum. When you give directions, make it simple. When you ask for a sale, make it happen in one click. When you want a question answered, give one to three options and ask which they would prefer. Remember what we said earlier: when a customer is confused or frustrated, he is not in a buying mood.

I hope you’ll remember some of these suggestions so that solving the non-response puzzle will be easier and faster for you than ever before. Often, you will find what the problem is sooner than later and you won’t have to scrap your whole project idea or offer because it’s not converting.

To you online business success,

Steve Browne


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Customers vs. Clients – Do You Know the Difference?

I’d like to talk about a way to conduct your solo business online that will bring you all the profits and business that you can handle.

What I’m speaking about has as much to do with your mindset as it does about your strategy or business system of operating.

If you will adopt an “MO” (a method of operating) that includes what I’m going to describe here, your business will automatically be differentiated from your marketplace competitors.

You will have a unique and wholly creative business that your clients will love and clamor for.

What I’m talking about has nothing to do with your chosen business niche, per se.

This model can be implemented in any niche market, with any product or any service.

In addition, anyone can adopt this business mindset as it is totally age, gender, culture, education, and experience independent.

Have you guessed yet what I’m talking about? Yes, the title of this post should have given the secret away.

First, let’s go to my huge Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and look up the definition of a customer.

Here it is:
cus-tom-er, n. 1. a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron. 2. a person one has to deal with; a tough customer; a cool customer.

It’s pretty easy to gain customers for your goods and services.

All you have to do is sell something – that’s it!

Once a person buys from you, they are automatically your customer.

Nothing else is needed.

No relationship exists, other than they have given money in exchange for a good they wanted.

Anyone can do this! Most businesses would prefer to have as many customers as they can generate.

It’s a simple and easy business principle.

Really nothing further is expected of customers.

Yes, your customer can buy from you over again if he decides to, but there are no further expectations or contracts to continue your relationship at this point.

Every one of your customers is free to keep purchasing from you or look elsewhere if he/she desires.

There are no strings attached.

Now, let’s focus on clients.

What is a client?

Here is Webster’s definition:
cli-ent, n. 1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc. 2. a person who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc. 3. anyone under the patronage of another; a dependent. 4. a person seeking the protection, guidance or influence of another more prosperous or powerful.

I hope the distinction between customers and clients is becoming abundantly clear.

If you take on clients, there is the expectation (understood by both parties or not) that you are going to develop a relationship with them that will be in their best interest. You are committing to protect, guide and influence them in whatever subject you are teaching.

So what does this distinction mean for the business owner?

Here is my take on it:

I want people who come to my business to see themselves as clients rather than customers.

I want my clients to know that I will do my best to give them advice, counsel, products and services that will be in their best interest – not necessarily mine.

I welcome my clients to open a dialogue with me – to enter into a personal relationship which includes open and frank discussions about the subject of my business.

I welcome their suggestions, ideas, experiences, and especially feedback in the niche.

I will give them my personality, wisdom, and experience as it applies to the subject so they can understand my passion and qualification for being their teacher, coach, and mentor.

I will never purposefully lead them astray and I will always give them the guidance that I feel will best help them become successful in the niche.

Can you understand how the customer/business owner model of small business is so different from the client/mentor (coach) model?

Now I’m not going to get caught up in semantics. You can call clients “customers” if you want.

Some will call them “friends of my business.” Clients could be called “students” or “pupils.”

The important point is, the folks that come to your business for help can be treated like faceless customers who buy and are never seen again . . . OR . . . you can use your effort and influence to treat them as clients – people who are there for tutoring, guidance, and coaching by one who has great influence, power, or experience in the niche.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have or what you sell – you can develop the mindset that everyone who walks through your business door will be treated as a valued client.

One more thing . . . if you decide to take on clients, there is an expectation that you can deliver something to them that the general public doesn’t have – specialized knowledge and skill in the niche.

Yes, you can learn this quickly, you can find it in other people that you work with, or you can organize and present the accumulated knowledge of other experts on the subject.

But somehow, you have to be able to give credible guidance and advice to people that rely upon you for direction.

As the owner of a business, you have the choice to go after one time customers or loyal clients.

Certainly, the client/mentor model demands much more from the business owner – that’s why very, very few owners ever accept this role and business model.

But think about the significant advantages of this type of business:

– Wouldn’t this kind of “TLC” really set your business apart from every other competitor in your niche? Truthfully, how many businesses can you think of that are personally concerned with the customer/client?

– Wouldn’t you be able to charge much more for your products and time if you give this type of personalized assistance? By all means.

– Wouldn’t your clients be much more likely to buy your products without a lot of hard selling on your part? Of course they would.

– Wouldn’t it take far fewer clients in order to keep your business humming? Yes, most definitely!

The decision is yours, and yours alone. I would seriously encourage you to step outside the norm and consider this unique and fulfilling business strategy.

To your online business success,

Steve Browne

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