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Retention, Part Eighteen: Call To Action

By Sanya Weathers

You’ve built a product, and you know from your focus testing that if people just try the product, they will be hooked. Your ad campaign has brought you tons of attention. But you’re not converting any of the people coming to look into actual customers. If you did focus testing among customers not familiar with your product category, you can rule out the possibility of your interface being bad. (A bad interface is an interface that a new user struggles with and gives up on the product rather than spend his free time feeling stupid.) It could just be that these potential customers didn’t know where to begin, because you didn’t give them a cue.

The call to action is what makes a user go from being passive (reading your material, watching your videos) to actually consuming the product in some way.

Early stage action is simple – clicking a link, taking a survey, voting thumbs up or thumbs down on content. In order to convert interest to action, all you have to do is make what you want easy and clear, with no barriers whatsoever. “Click this to hear the song!” “No need to register, just vote!” “Choose the funniest screenshot!” The content, whatever it is, should be branded with your product name and the one thing you want them to remember about the product.

Middle stage action requires something from the user, such as registering a name and an email address, or user profile data, or password creation. At this stage, you should not only be specific – “Take this survey” or “tell us your favorite movie and we’ll tell you how many other people say it’s their favorite” or “redeem your free coupon” – but you need to explicitly state what’s in it for the user. You want something from them, you need to offer immediate value. Expecting them to find value once they fork over their information isn’t good enough. Call them to action, and offer immediate gratification for doing so.

End stage action is you asking for commitment, usually in the form of money or time. Even before you ask for money, show the user why it’s worth their hard earned cash with free samples, rewards for signing up, virtual currency or virtual items, or real life tokens of appreciation.

When you’re ready to issue the call to action after showing the customer what he’ll get, remember to look for barriers and remove them. As we discussed last week, we want to make it easy for people to commit. Try to limit your information needs to one page. If you must split the process among multiple pages, show a progress bar. And of course, offer multiple pathways to get to the commitment.

It’s the Big Red Button theory of design. If you want a user to click on something, make sure they can see the button, and put it everywhere.

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