Why do so many sites fail to implement a call to action?

When was the last time you saw any offline marketing whatsoever that failed to offer a call to action?

Whether it is an advert for a product, or a campaign to change opinion’s there is always a call to action embedded in the advert somewhere.  Offline marketers know that unless there is a way for people to do something else, a way for them to follow up on their interest then the advert will be wasted.

Why then is it so hard for online marketers to also implement calls to action?  How many sites have you seen that just talk about their products without a way to actually buy them?

Partly I think it is a reaction amongst the more ethical online marketers to not be seen as one of the high-pressure scammers: they themselves have seen sites that are overwhelming in their garish colours and flashing animations that demand you “click here” and they resolve to never create a similar site.

Partly it is also due to the rise of social media.  Many online marketers are seduced by the possibilities of social media, and seem to forget that to make money you actually need to sell something.  As I have stated before, social media marketing is an essential, inherent part of the total online marketing toolkit… – just not the totality of it.  Social media marketing can get you better known and generate a loyal band of followers; it can enhance your reputation and get people thinking of you in a much better light.  What it tends to not to do (as practiced at the moment) is think about the entire online marketing process and more specifically the customers journey from uninformed new arrival at the site to satisfied customer who has paid a fair price for something they want.

But this reticence is counter-productive: if you fail to ask people to do something after visiting a site then – perhaps unsurpisringly – they consistently fail to do anything.

This is one of the rare occasions that a lesson from offline marketing actually applies to the online marketing world: if you want someone to do something after looking at a site then ask them.  Make it polite and to the point, and also emminently opt-outable – but if you don’t then people will look at your page, think “nice page” and leave, never to return.

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