Why Your Call to Action Never Works Out the Way You Planned

Though brief, the call to action (CTA) is the final “push” a properly designed website must have to get people to convert. Testing options such as “Download Now” vs. “Read Now” vs. “I Want This!” and everything in between can help you to generate more leads or increase sales.

However, if your CTAs consistently underperform it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your entire funnel. Even the best call to action can be doomed to fail if it’s not supported properly.

Here are the top 5 reasons why your call to action never works out the way you planned:

Not Enough Info – Your Call to Action is Unsupported

Whether your focus is B2C or B2B, ultimately it’s an individual that makes the final decision to fill out a form or pick up the phone. When it comes to doing business online, trust is a huge factor in how well your website converts. So ask yourself:

  • Does my website/landing page have enough information for people to know what they’re getting?
  • If I’m asking people to make a purchase, does my website have security measures prominently displayed?
  • What about guarantees or other assurances?

Unless there is enough information to make an informed decision, most people won’t convert.

Too Much Info – Your Call to Action is Lost

On the other end of the scale, there are websites and landing pages that try to have as much content as possible. Too much information all at once can lead to confusion or just plain exhaustion – people may click away from the page before they ever scroll down far enough to see your CTA.

If what you are offering requires significant knowledge to make a decision, it will likely take some time and lead nurturing before you are able to get your target audience to convert. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need to provide more “micro-conversions” – whitepapers, guides, webinars, etc. to get people to understand my offering before I close the sale?
  • Should I consider product demonstrations or another hands-on method of showing how my product works as part of the conversion funnel?
  • What is the essential information I need to impart for my target audience to take the next step?

Too Many Options – Your Call to Action is Confusing

Sometimes, you may not know where your website visitors are when it comes to the sales process. Are they looking for more information? Would they like to see a demonstration? Maybe they’re ready to make a purchase right now, and want to get in contact with someone directly.

Trying to account for every possibility on one page is a surefire way to diminish your overall conversion rate. While people generally like having some choices, when there are too many options they may not be able to choose – leading to lost opportunities and lost sales.

Note:  this is different than having the same CTA in multiple places on the same page. Having the same CTA shown multiple times may actually increase your conversion rate.

If you need to discern which CTA is best suited to your target audience, consider:

  • Testing different offers on the same landing page via A/B testing or multivariate tests – this way, people are only shown one CTA, and you can compare results to choose the best one for a particular traffic source.
  • Setting up different landing pages for each CTA, and sending targeted traffic to each one (via social media or ad campaigns) to see which performs best.
  • Providing an intermediary page that lets people choose what they are looking for – a subpage on your website can serve as a “mini hub” that directs people to the appropriate offer.

Message Mismatch – Your Call to Action is Frustrating

Every step in the conversion funnel is meant to lead your website visitors along a path to a logical and expected conclusion. When your offer differs from the messaging on previous pages, it can lead to a disconnect with your target audience that ultimately results in funnel abandonment.

For example, let’s say your website is advertising a 15% off sale. Your customer adds multiple items to the shopping cart and prepares to check out. On the order overview page, there is no mention of the discount.

This mismatch between the expected price and what the customer sees will likely lead your customer to abandon the purchase, even if the discount will be applied on the next page before the order is completed.

Another example:  say you offer a free whitepaper on website security, and you run an ad campaign to drive traffic to the offer. If your ad campaign says “Secure Your Website for Free” then many people who click through will be expecting a free website security service and not a whitepaper. In this scenario, conversions will be low, even if the CTA is perfect.  Ask yourself:

  • Is my messaging consistent from one step in the conversion funnel to the next?
  • Are people clearly told what to expect, and what information they’ll need to provide?
  • Is there a way to visually illustrate or demonstrate what people get from my offer to make it clearer?

Audience Mismatch – Your Call to Action Doesn’t Resonate

This is related to the “too many options” issue we’ve already discussed. Sometimes, when there are many CTAs we could use to drive conversions, we simply choose the wrong one. If your CTA talks about saving time and your audience is more interested in saving money, you can expect a lower conversion rate.This is why we are such strong believers in developing website personas before beginning the design process.

When you aren’t sure which benefits are most important to your target audience, it’s another opportunity for testing your CTAs. If you aren’t sure where to begin your testing, think about:

  • What type positive feedback do you consistently get from customers?
  • Does that feedback often focus on a particular feature or benefit?
  • In what ways does your product/service alleviate a particular pain point?

A good call to action is like the ribbon on a present: it ties everything together, and makes the overall package (your product/service) more appealing and exciting. Likewise, if you don’t take time on the package itself – messaging, funnel optimization, etc. – even the best the CTA will fall flat.

Have you ever had a CTA underperform your expectations? What did you do to change it? Let us know!

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