Every page on your website should have a clear call to action. In other words, it should always be obvious what you expect a visitor to do.

The call to action should be the beginning and ending of your web page. Start with the end in mind and work your content backwards. This the best method of ensuring that you accomplish your goals and meet the needs of your clients. Your call to action is the most critical part of any ad or web page, it provides the information, button or other details for your client to perform the intended behavior.

The importance of a call to action was recently illustrated in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice where teams had to design ad campaigns. One team failed to include a website or phone number or any information to lead a consumer to the next steps. You can imagine the negative feedback the team got from The Donald for this critical failure.

Does your website encourage action?

Would your website withstand similar criticism? Take a look at each page and evaluate whether you have a specific action for your customers to accomplish. While you most likely have contact information, do you make it easy? Do you provide multiple methods of contact to ensure all preferences are met? If not, you are probably missing out on business.

Better pages for monkeys

The Big Red Fez by Seth Godin presents a number of simple concepts on how to make any web page better. Godin describes your potential customer as a monkey looking for a banana and whose attention will wander if he cannot find his simple reward. Use this method to evaluate your pages and decide if your site and content is all about you or all about your client (hint: it should be all about them). First identify the problem you are solving, then describe why you’re the girl for the job. While it may seem insulting, do not require your customers to work or think for what they want or they will leave and find it elsewhere rather than waste time searching through your site.

How it should look and sound

Your call to action should be a simple offer with straightforward language and preferably a few easy steps. Determine what you have to offer your clients, break it into a simple item that will hook them in, then use active language (click, call, subscribe, etc.) to tell them what to do. Place your button or language in the “white space” where it has plenty of breathing space around it and use contrasting colors to visually draw attention.

Overall an effective call to action should inspire your website’s visitors to click and perform the desired behavior. By making it simple and easy to find and execute your business will likely reap the rewards.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolbrowne/2847937438/)