Your website is the backbone of your business. Ads point to it. Social media points to it. Emails point to it. Business cards point to it. The signs on your company vehicles even point to it.

So, my point is, your website should have a point. The key to an effective website is clarity. It should have a purpose for the people who use it. And unless you just like lighting money on fire, your website shouldn’t just “be informative.”

As an online shopper, I see many websites that expect me to figure out how to buy from them and why I even should at all. And if I have to spend too much time trying to figure that out, I’ll likely take my business elsewhere. You’re in the business to make money, right? So compel me to take action and show me how easy it is to spend my money with you.

1. Establish a clear call-to-action

Every business has a “call-to-action” (CTA). But not every business communicates that call-to-action clearly on their website. So what is a “CTA?” Simply, it is the desired action that you want people to take with your business or organization. What do you want your customers to do? To start shopping? To call and set an appointment? To get a quote? To apply online?

CTAs apply to any organization; even nonprofits want people to make donations. Calling people to action is not sleazy, it’s vital to your operation staying alive. Not calling people to action is a good way to stay in the “friend zone” with potential customers.

Make your CTA clear and simple. Ensure that, as a customer, I know exactly what action you want me to take on your website.

Put it to work

Think. Depending on your type of business, what’s the desired action you want people to take? Is it to start shopping? Is it to call you now? To make a donation? Apply online?

Once you decide, make it clear. CTAs should be 2-4 words. Don’t get too cute here, the best CTAs are the ones that are simple and clear, like: ‘Shop Now’, ‘Call Now’, ‘Get A Quote’, ‘Donate Now’, or ‘Schedule A Call.”

*Note: One of my favorite practical tips about CTAs is: “Don’t hide the cash register in the bathroom.” In other words, if you walk into a retail store, you know exactly where to check out. Don’t make your customers click around trying to find out where your “register” is. Place your CTA in numerous, prominent places throughout your homepage and the rest of your website.

2. Show a 3-step plan.

So you’ve got a clear CTA and, as a customer, I know what action you want me to take. What happens next?

You need a clear, 3-step process that tells your customers what their first action with you is, what the process looks like, and what doing business with you ends like.

People don’t move into mystery. We like to be guided through the fog instead of having to try to feel through it on our own. You need to show people a simple plan for how to do business with you. Even if what you do seems super obvious, spell it out. It may not be quite so obvious to everyone else. 

By displaying how easy it is to do business with you, you show people that they don’t have to overthink the process. It’s as simple as 1-2-3!

Put it to work.

Writing Step 1.

Start with your CTA. Step 1 can be as simple as “1. Click shop now.” or “1. Schedule a call today.” There should be no confusion surrounding what the first step of the process is.

Writing Step 2.

How do I get from here to there? What happens next in the process? Consider the best way to sum up the space between your call-to-action and the desired end result of your customers. If you deliver customers a plan or strategy that leads to the solution, this is a good time to say that. Or simply state what you as a brand, or the customer does next.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s consider a tire and auto service. Their Step 1 will likely be to “Call now to schedule your appointment.” Step 2 could then be, simply “Bring your car in. We will change your tires and check your car for potential problems.” This step is what leads to the desired end result that your customer wants to achieve.

Writing Step 3.

It’s time to tell how this story ends happily ever after. What do your customers ultimately want from doing business with you? In this step, you get to concisely tell what success looks like for them. Show what buying your product or service leads to them feeling or experiencing. 

Keep it clear here as well, don’t try to get too cute. If your desired end result is too vague, it won’t really resonate with potential buyers.

Take the tire and auto service we used above as an example. Their 3 step process would look something like this:

  1. Call now to schedule an appointment.
  2. Bring your car in. We will change your tires and check your car for potential problems.
  3. Drive away with total confidence and peace of mind that your car is safe for the road.

In the final step, we completed the loop in their mind and showed them why they should schedule an appointment.

In this 3-step process, we have clearly shown people what their first step is, what the process looks like, and what doing business with you ends like.

3. Write a clear headline. 

Often, brands use taglines or headlines to insert a clever slogan they’ve come up with. But clever only works if it’s clear. In fact, it’s best to steer clear of clever altogether in the beginning. Would you rather have a headline that is clever and nobody understands or a headline that is simple and clear, but converts customers because they understand it? Taglines and headlines should be simple and they should be clear. As a potentially interested customer, I should know exactly what it is you offer and how it makes my life better. 

All within a few seconds.

Chuck the jargon, kick the insider language, and don’t try to be cute. Just tell me what it is you offer and how it helps me.

Put it to work.

• Write down what your business offers in the simplest way you can think possible. Think “auto and tire service” or “pest control.”

• After you’ve done this, write down how your product or service makes someone’s life better. “Car is safe on the road.” or “Bug-free homes.”

• Then, put the two together and you have the makings of a headline.

“Auto and tire service that keeps your car safe on the road.”

“Pest control that keeps bugs away from your home.”

It sounds too simple to be true, but just remember that people are drawn into clarity, not fog.

Note: It will be easy to drift back to cute and clever. My advice is to start simple. Make a simple, clear headline first. If you do that, and want to try your hand at elevating your headline, think of another benefit your customer gets. To use the pest control example, say “Stop worrying about bugs in your home.” Insert that into your headline now. “Pest control that keeps your home and mind free from bugs.”

Sometimes, giving your website a purpose needs a total overhaul, but sometimes a few changes can make all the difference. If your website isn’t performing the way you would like it to, try these tips. You can also download my 5 Keys to a Website That Sells for more tips on writing copy for your own website.

If your website isn’t a powerful asset for your brand and you’d like to talk about building a website that gets you more customers, schedule a call with me. Let’s chat about how we can build a website that works for you.

*Illustrations by Jonathan LaCross –