How To Get People To Do What You Want Online

There are many reasons to create a website. In my line of work, I hear everything from “Everybody else has one” to “I closed my store and want to sell online” to “We need to prove we’re a legit business” and everything in between. At the end of the day, there’s one thing everyone has in common: you build an online presence because you want something. And chances are, to get what you want, you need people to do something. I call these action items.

Action items vary widely based on your goals. Users to your site perform actions items by purchasing, signing up for newsletters or providing information (opting-in to your marketing campaigns), creating content, downloading content, sharing content, etc.

I meet a lot of people who know exactly what they want others to do. Very few of those, however, mention this anywhere. Everyone’s heard of calls to action, but companies are often scared of being pushy or just plain forget that many times prospective clients need to be led through a series of actions – known as the customer funnel. Here are three ways to lead people in the direction you want using resources you’ve already got.

Show it

Do you know where your website’s prime real estate is? Do you know where your traffic is coming from? Take that information and insert action items there. Whether it’s a slider with a slogan, your telephone number, a ‘register now!’ button or whatever your goal is, you need to place these everywhere you know there are eyes. If your goal is getting sales leads to call you and you put your phone number in tiny letters in the footer, you’re kind of doing yourself a disservice. It’s like if companies put up their ads on billboards and then turned the billboards in the direction no one would see.

If you get traffic coming in from organic search results, then your action item goes in your Meta data. If you have a big Twitter following, push your calls to action through there. If you want people sign up for a newsletter – give them a box in which to enter their emails! That last one is a big one. You would be surprised how many websites have this goal but have no function or technical capability to do this – or they do but don’t have the emails set up to go anywhere.

ESL Explorer doesn’t want people to just buy their time sensitive deals. They want people to share them with their networks. They’ve included enough buttons to make that obvious.

Tell it

Tell people what you want and don’t be afraid to do it. If you want them to buy something, say so. If you want them to sign up, download, etc. make it clear. If you’re scared to tell someone to do something and don’t include it in your messaging, then that person probably won’t even know that you want it done. I usually use a ‘sandwich’ in short promos or call to action. Start by telling them what you want them to do: “We’ve created a great newsletter and we want to send it to you. Enter your email address below to register.” Then tell them why: “Tons of great industry specific content and monthly contests will be coming your way!” And then repeat what they should do: “Register today to not miss out!”

Klout makes no secret of wanting your social media information. The buttons are front and centre on the home page.

Do it

You’re responsible for driving people through the funnel in order to get them to do what you want. Initiatives are a great way to do that. Incentives like freebies, contests, and prizes are wonderful ways to get sign ups. Promising freebies in newsletters is also a good way to get people. Even promoting calls to action through PPC, Facebook and Twitter are all campaigns that, if they suit your goals, are worth trying. Just remember – if you promise a prize, freebie, etc. make sure to deliver.

Moo offers free shipping to first time customers who sign up for their newsletter.

Selling, pushing and advertising can be hard – especially if you’re moving your freemium product to premium level. You’re going to have people complaining and questioning the value of your product. Take this as reassurance – when this happens (and it will), focus your time and energy on creating better messaging and differentiation to emphasize your product’s worth. Don’t emphasize the difference in price or back down on your call to action items. People often will need to be led through the funnel, and sometimes to do this it is necessary to give a gentle push.