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The Art of Search call to action

Not If But When

There's an awful lot to read into the words of a website. This blog post considers the immense distance between the words if and when; and illustrates how just one word change can have you re-thinking the entire tone of your website.

Possibility vs Certainty

I'm putting the finishing touches to a website at the moment - one that's ridden a complex path to the launchpad. The final few staff profile photographs are coming in as well as outstanding content to be pasted into certain pages. At launch, it'll be 210 pages big. During the build of this website, certain patterns in the way website copy is written have become apparent; one of which is the use of a boilerplate call to action statement at the foot of the page.

The Boilerplate

If you need a [xxx yyy zzz], get in touch with us today. We can provide you with expert guidance and fixed fees for many [xxx yyy zzz] services. Simply contact us and book an appointment today.

At first glance there would appear to be absolutely nothing wrong with this call to action. However, once you've seen the default phrase pop-up over 200 times, it's not long before you begin to think more deeply about the boilerplate and its use of the word 'if'.

The Art of Search®

People don't stumble-upon a page of your website for no good reason. They've either i) searched for the thing you want to sell/tell them or ii) they've followed an online link that promised to tell them more about the thing itself. So, let's firstly consider the example where someone's searched for an 'xxx yyy zzz thing' and landed on a page of your website.
When they land upon this page, following a Google search, there'll be absolutely no doubt that they're interested in xxx yyy zzz.

Similarly in the second example, when someone's followed a hyperlink from another website, an app or even from your own website, then you know, absolutely, they're going to be interested in what the hyperlink promised they'd get if they clicked it.

Be Specific - Don't Be Vague and General

Let's turn back to that boilerplate, the purpose of which is to convert interest into business. If you need a [xxx yyy zzz], get in touch with us today. We can provide you with expert guidance and fixed fees for many [xxx yyy zzz] services. Can you now see how, when a website user has expressed precisely what they want, a website that says if you want something can appear to look like a website that's not making much effort to give the website user what they want.
This is the difference between a website about Whiting's Widgets and a website that shows you how Whiting's Wickedly Wound Widgets are going to save your business an awful lot of time and money.

Change The If To When

If is about the possibility of them needing what you offer but, if you've been vague about your offer, your call to action isn't going to inspire much confidence or generate the volume of new business you hoped it might. When is about the certainty that you, as a business, understand the needs of the website visitor and have the 'thing' they've been searching for or have been promised. A call to action written with a when is so much stronger than a call to action that begins with an if.

When you get tired of replacing a widget that has only lasted a couple of months, choose one of Whiting's Wickedly Wound Widgets. We guarantee the performance of all our widgets for a minimum of 12 months.

Now, that's a directed, smart, call to action. You've written-into the boilerplate: When your 'thing' is needed; Why your 'thing' is deserving of their attention; What your 'thing' is. When the website user clicks the link all you need to do is tell them: How much it'll save them and how much it'll cost; Who sells it and Why your 'things' are better than the rest.

Articulate Your Business Proposition

Considering When your prospective Customers will use your 'things', is a powerful tool to help you write bigger and better websites. Wondering if and hoping that they're ever likely buy your things is far weaker and less imaginative by comparison.
Let me write your website content for you. I'll make your phone ring, I'll fill your inbox and I'll win you more new business than you are winning right now.

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Sub@omic is an independent web consultancy developing cognitive designer websites, based in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, UK