Calls to Action, Part 2: When to strike (close a sale)

Posted by Pierre on 15th Dec 2011

Due to the varying nature of products and services, there is no concrete rule as to when/where to put your conversion call to action. Generally, low cost products require less information before a conversion than high cost products, so can often be converted earlier on in the user journey. This is because from the user’s perspective, the research and decision-making process for low cost products is more of an effort than the cost of buying the product outright.

This being said, people will always need a certain level of information on a product before making a purchase and therefore need to be taken along a suitable journey. In the below diagram you can see an example of how one of these journeys might either be cut short by striking too early, or started through the right messaging:

Graph comparing the number and quality of leads generated by a website against the amount of content viewed by the visitor

In the above diagram, we can immediately see that the bottom call to action is more suitable for this user than the top because it matches their requirements. The problem is that in almost all situations your users will not have the same requirements: Some might be ready to buy, some might need some more information and others may need a full product specification and life history. Unfortunately, most designs won’t allow us to cater for every single requirement for fear of making too much noise on the page, so we need to find a balanced place to put our conversion call to action – one that doesn’t scare people off, but isn’t buried too deep for people to find it.

The below diagram explores the trade off between quality and number of leads as the user journey progresses: As users discover more about a product, they are better informed to decide whether to convert or not, but for each additional step a certain number of users drop off, leaving fewer, but better leads:

A website visitor thinks: "I'm not ready to buy, but I want to know more about x"

At point A we can imagine that the conversion call to action is placed on the homepage: Lots of visitors to the site click without thinking, generating plenty of leads, but of little value because only a small proportion of them are genuinely interested.

At point B we can imagine that the conversion call to action is placed on the product overview page. Fewer people get this far in to the journey, but those who do are better informed on whether to convert or not.

At point C we can imagine that the conversion call to action is placed on the product detail page. Not many people get this far in the journey at all, but those who choose to convert are almost all genuinely interested in making a purchase.

Conclusion

Firstly, know your users. If you can identify their key requirements and accurately judge how tentative they are at making a purchase you should be able to put your call to action conversion in the right place. The best way to do this is to test different combinations; use multi-variant testing to compare the effectiveness of your call to action positioning or direct user testing to see how your customers respond on an individual basis.

Secondly, think about how you would make use of your web leads. If you’re able to handle a large number of leads and think you could convert them outside of the web, why not try the conversion call to action on the homepage? If you’re overwhelmed with leads and would prefer an easy sell, why not move your call to action further back?

We welcome all of your thoughts.