How Clear is Your Call to Action?

I don't know about this call to action.I hate making a hard sale. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I avoid it at all costs. I prefer to do a soft sale – let people get to know me, to develop a level of trust, and to know that I’m not going to swindle them out of their money. I then make suggestions and let what I can do for them take care of itself. It’s been my strategy since the days of selling shoes. It worked, too. I sold many a pair of shoes in my days as a Nine West salesperson.

I wish the strategy worked as well online, but it doesn’t. It has to be modified. People hit a website and leave if they don’t see what they want immediately or aren’t compelled to take some sort of action. They have to be funneled toward something, and, without a salesperson to guide them through the site, they have to do the work on their own.

It’s that understanding that has led to prolonged discussions (read: battles) with myself about navigation items and what I want visitors to my site to do. It’s why the navigation has changed from “services” to “work with me” and from “speaking” to “workshops.” I want to clarify what I do so that visitors have a better understanding of who I am and what I offer.

It’s also led to multiple revisions of the sidebar: adding a Facebook fan box, a Creative Commons license, et cetera. It’s why only one subscription option is available in the sidebar, and it’s highlighted in a big, blue box. I want the visitor’s eye to be drawn toward it. Will I need to edit the text so that visitors have a better idea of what the free e-book is? Perhaps, but that’s a debate for another time.

Does that make the call to action clearer? I hope so. I’m looking to work with people who want to improve their writing so that they can better communicate their stories. That’s what the big, blue box and the renamed navigation items are meant to do – to guide them toward the point where I can talk with them about what I do and allow what I do to sell itself. Will I have to make a hard sale at times? Of course, but I may not have to do it quite as often if I have made the call to action as clear as I possibly can.

How about you? Is your call to action clear? Does it pervade your site and your writing? Also, what are your thoughts on the hard or soft sale?

Photo: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig


  1. Hey Erin, I really like your honesty. That always goes a long way with me. My CTA needs some work but is something I haven’t spent much time on. Clarity for visitors is key and I can say that the first time I visited your site it was clear to me what you were offering.If you are interested here’s a link to rzive  site where she wrote about the same subject. Look in the comments where she relied to a gentleman named Aartjan. There’s a link there to F-pattern reading for web content. Sorry if you already know this stuff. I just found it interesting and a bit eye-opening.

    • rdopping Thank you for the feedback! I tinker with this site quite a bit, just as I tinker with almost everything else. I suppose I’m used to playing the part of the guinea pig. It’s the role of being the eldest in the family. 🙂 I also prefer to use myself as an example. It’s a little easier to critique myself publicly. I wouldn’t do that to anyone else unless I had their consent.Thank you for the information! I’ve only read a little bit about the flow and design of a site in terms of a CTA. I don’t know nearly enough. I’ll have to check out the link.

    • rdopping Thanks for the mention Ralph! And great post Erin. I don’t think that bloggers (or online business owners) really think enough about their CTA. Your opt-in box is in the right place Erin, but I would consider changing up your header. Instead of “Subscribe to the Write Right E-Letter”, I would play up your offering. “Transform your writing today” or “Stop writing poorly” – something speaks more directly to your reader’s pain points.  Just my 2 cents :-).

      • Ruth – MarketingWise rdopping I’ll have to keep tinkering with the opt-in box. I changed some of the wording last night, but it seems my job is not quite done.

    • rdopping Ruth – MarketingWise You know, I thought the link looked familiar. It’s the article I read a few days ago. jasonkonopinski and I had a small chat about CTAs in relation to that article. I started writing this post a few days prior to reading it. Oh, convergence. 🙂