Directing traffic – leading customers to a sale

Written on 15 November, 2010 by Jonathan Crossfield
Categories: Search Engine Optimisation | Tags: content, search engine optimisation, web design

It may seem obvious, but many websites fail because they don’t clearly articulate why - or even what - a visitor to the site should do. Sure, you as the business owner want them to buy your product or enquire after your service, but have you told them that? If you have lots of traffic coming to your website, are you directing it in the best way to lead as many people as possible to the right outcome?

Every website should have a specific goal. For some it may be to process complete transactions, for others to generate enquiries, or answer customer support queries or drive people to the high street store, etc, etc. If you know what the goal of your website is, it needs to be clearly articulated throughout the site to increase the chances of a visitor taking your desired action.

When designing a website, each page should have a purpose that contributes to the goal - otherwise, cut it out. An ‘About Us’ page can provide reassuring information about your experience and areas of expertise, helping convince a customer to trust your offer. A product page obviously provides detail on each item or service that can be bought. The home page introduces visitors to the site and directs them to the best way of continuing their quest. Each of these pages should offer a further step along the chain to the desired result.

Ideally, a webpage should have a single goal, so as not to confuse or overwhelm the reader. If you provide too many different choices for the user to take, the result may be that they take none. If you have a vision in your mind of the journey your perfect customer will take through the site, you can enhance those pages to increase the chances of this occurring. If the best action for the customer to take on the “About Us” page is to then choose a product, ensure that theme is woven into the copy and easy one-click access is provided to do just that. If you would ideally want the customer to lodge an enquiry after viewing a product page, clearly articulate that in a prominent position and ensure the customer knows how to do this.

The call to action

The call to action is a key part of any marketing copy. It is the short phrase or line that motivates the reader to take the desired action. Successful calls to action have a number of features.

1. They are time bounded, meaning that the reader has to act now or risk missing out. This places urgency on the reader to do something straight away rather than think about it. Sometimes this is a deadline, such as the closing day of a sale. Sometimes it can be related to impulse and inspiration. “Act now!”

2. They repeat the key benefit of the offer, briefly and persuasively.

3. In some cases, there may even be an element of risk associated with not taking the offer. “Can you afford to risk your family’s safety?” “Act now, before your competition does!” Risk and fear can sometimes be powerful persuasive techniques, but only if your product warrants it. No one would market a child’s doll that way.

4. The catchier the better. You want to engage with the customer and that often takes a bit of creativity. If the customer is going to read your words, make them worth reading.

A classic example of a call to action, emblazoned across car bumpers and lamp posts all over the world, is Herbalife’s “Lose weight now. Ask me how!” It contains urgency - “now” - reiterates the benefit - “lose weight” - and explains how to take action - “ask me how” - all while being punchy and even rhyming.

By ensuring your web pages contain calls to action at relevant points can help motivate your visitors to take the action you want them to take.


A key component of a customer’s ability to do what you want is making it easy for them. How usable is your site? Does the menu make it easy to identify where to go? It is usually safest to stick with commonly used page titles and menu items as users have become familiar with what they mean and can easily find their way around. We all know what to expect from an “About Us” page, but would everyone assume the same from “Company Info”? That title could equally apply to a page containing contact details and therefore is more ambiguous.

Your goal in planning a website is to keep customers on the path. The fewer forks in the road and the fewer confusing signposts can help lead your site visitors where you want them to go.