ecommerce calls-to-actionWhen buyers visit your ecommerce site, they’re looking for something. Maybe they’re not ready to buy right now, but you can be sure they’re gathering information. Anyone visiting your page has a need—pain points, if you will—and they really want a solution. Without calls-to-action, your potential customers may never see the path from need to solution right there in your online store. If you don’t light the way, they’ll get lost. So how can you ensure your calls-to-action provide an easy path and excellent user experience for them?

CTAs Are Like Choose Your Own Adventure Books

Remember those books you read when you were a kid? The Choose Your Own Adventure series put the reader in the driver’s seat and gave directions throughout the story to lead readers to the ending they wanted to see. You remember the drill: You’re creeping down the dusty stone path inside the Great Pyramid, so close to the ancient treasure that you’re already spending it in your mind. On your right is a door covered by years’ worth of spider webs. Straight ahead is more darkness leading right to the middle of the structure. If you want to struggle through the spider webs, turn to page 49. If you want to keep going straight, turn to page 56.

If you think of your ecommerce site as an adventure for all who visit, you’re moving in the right direction toward creating buyer excitement. Your next step is to learn how to lead those excited buyers toward the user experience that they're going to love the most. You can only do that with effective and targeted calls-to-action.

Give Detailed Instructions

When giving instructions in the Choose Your Own Adventure books, the authors made sure readers knew what to expect. You must do the same with your calls-to-action. Make sure your buyers know exactly where they’re going when the click the links. 

ecommerce calls-to-action

In this example, we see Home Depot gives two specific choices: Shopping for organization supplies or their “let’s do this” button, which leads consumers to instructions for special projects. To make the message even clearer, they use an image of beautifully organized shelves. When buyers looking for a cleaning adventure visit the site, Home Depot leads them seamlessly down two different but equally important paths. 

Keep the Excitement Building

If your adventure choices in the books are a big snoozefest, do you even care enough to flip to a given page? The same holds true with your calls-to-action. If you haven’t put enough thought into making your copy, images, and colors bold as well as informative, no one will bother to follow you on your adventure to the next big sale. 

ecommerce calls-to-action

This call-to-action from Apple makes excellent use of bold colors, exciting products, and very informative choices. Apple is relatively certain you’ll make the purchase once you know all about the product. That’s why they give you three chances to learn more: first by watching the keynote speech and second by watching a video about the product. If buyers still don’t know what they need at that point, there’s an additional chance to “learn more.” 

Keep the Adventures Coming

The greatest thing about the Choose Your Own Adventure books is that readers could go back to the beginning and select a new path. What does this mean for your ecommerce site? If you’re only offering one adventure, your customers will get bored pretty quickly. Consider several different options from which buyers can choose. If they don’t find what they need during their first visit, they’ll stick around to try other choices.

ecommerce calls-to-action

Take a look at Coach’s website. This is a true Choose Your Own Adventure model. Each and every panel shows products and offers a CTA, whether it’s to shop that particular line or to learn more about the different handbags and men’s fashion available. If buyers aren’t jumping all over the new Borough bag, they can still check out the other designs. And if they still don’t find what they need, Coach offers a chance to sign up for more information right there on the front page. Well done.

Sometimes Simple Works

In the books, there was always one adventure that was shorter and more concise than the rest. This was often the most likely scenario, if such a thing exists in a book titled The Third Planet from Altair. Simple can also work for your calls-to-action, too. You still want to be informative, use eye-catching colors, and provide more than one option, but there’s no need to go overboard.

ecommerce calls-to-action

This Nike call-to-action could never be called boring, but it is more subdued than the previous options. We still see exactly what we get when clicking the buttons, whether it’s more information, a chance to purchase the product, or a video with compelling statistics. Does this CTA receive lower marks because it doesn’t scream? Not in my book.

You can create CTAs that lead your buyers to the right conclusion. Just be sure they’re bold, concise, informative, and plentiful. Without these calls-to-action, your buyers may go looking for adventure elsewhere.

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photo credit: Nathan Penlington via photopin cc

Originally published Oct 22, 2013 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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Ecommerce Calls to Action