Call to Action | VEPA

A key part of any sales pitch, be it on the Web or otherwise, is the call-to-action. A call-to-action is a group of words which encourages a reader, listener, or viewer of a website to enact on a desired response. A desired response is simply the next desired action you would like from a prospective customer (i.e. making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc.). Therefore an advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete and ineffective.

The acronym VEPA is often used when entrepreneurs talk about calls-to-action. VEPA stands for:

V = Value: The customer should get some value out of the desired action

E = Ease of use: The desired action should be easy for the customer to execute

P = Prominent: The action should be prominent and easy to see

A = Action: The wording should speak to action (ex. Buy Now!)

You should continually play with VEPA and your calls-to-action to maximize desired responses from customers. There are various effective online tools to help you multivariate test your calls-to-action. One of the most powerful free options is Google’s Experiments. You can play with and test various attributes such as bigger or different color calls, changing the calls’ copy, or different incentives for customers to act upon. Incentives can go a long way if done correctly.

An effective call-to-action is the linchpin of a successful sales campaign and involves drawing together best practices in usability, creativity and effective but concise copy writing. It all starts with a great call-to-action button, here are 25 examples of call-to-action buttons to get your creative juices flowing.

Fire Your Customers (okay not all of them)

Although a cliché, it is true that for the most part companies exist to solve problems and serve their customers. Profit is the life blood of any business and capital comes from the people you serve. A cliché that isn’t always necessarily true in business is, to make a large impact you need to cater to as large a market as possible. On the contrary, having a sizable audience is not always a good thing. Having a large customer base that do not appreciate your goods or services, feel unsatisfied, and yet continue to engage you because of your competitive advantage in the market are usually a waste of time. A wise entrepreneur will foster relationships with customers who are genuinely interested in their offerings and brand.

Properly targeting the right customers can make your efforts much more effective and efficient. It starts by knowing who your right customers are. So, how do you define the “right” customers? The right customers are those who are loyal and generally help your business. Loyal customers are those who repeatedly purchase your goods or services or subscribe to your offering. In addition, they help your marketing efforts by becoming social advocates for your brand. They also are repeat customers, requiring no cost of acquisition to make the sale. If you are looking for exposure through Internet marketing, what better way than a customer recommending your products on their blog or Yelp? With the rise of interactions from social media sites, any good praise helps increase exposure thus increasing chances of conversion.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame states in his book, “When you properly target your clients, you will discover that you no longer have to work with jerks… Clients who don’t respect the value you bring, don’t pay on time, and don’t do their part will drag your marketing business down faster than any other business dynamic.”

Keeping your great customers happy and “firing” the rest frees up valuable time to improve existing relationships and seek out additional good customers. This allows you to focus your marketing efforts specifically on those customers you would like to attract creating a synergistic loop that ideally will increase sales volume and sales total per transaction.

Websites Should be Built for the Customer

Customers have inherent questions when they visit any business online. Some of these questions are determined by the customer’s personality, while others are influenced by the customer’s first impression of the Web page they landed on. If your potential customers can quickly and easily get their questions answered, they are more likely to convert to paying customers. If you or your Web designers did not build your business website with the customer in mind, you might want to think about a redesign.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, look at your website, and ask the following questions:

– Is this what I expect to see?
– Can I tell what this company does?
– Will I benefit from the products and/or services here?
– Are the prices reasonable?
– Can I trust the refund policy?
– Do I want to spend time here?

– Does the site look credible and trustworthy?
– Is this company established?
– What do other people think of this company?

Next Steps
– What actions can I take from here?
– Are there any promotions I can take advantage of?
– Can I talk to a live person?
– Are there any case studies on the site?
– How do I learn more about the company?
– How do I contact the company?

Along with the questions I have listed, there will be questions that only you can think of (because they will be specific to your respective entrepreneurial project). Take some time to brainstorm as many questions as you can (better yet, ask some of your current customers to help you), add them to my list above, and evaluate whether your website is effective at giving your customers the answers to these questions.

Remember, most people hit the Web to gather information first. Provide this valuable service to prospects and these potential customers might just honor you with a few more seconds of their valuable attention.

Five Steps in Permission Marketing

This post is about the five steps of permission marketing found in the classic book aptly titled Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin, and includes 10 things you can do to increase permission marketing in your own business. Enjoy!

Five steps in permission marketing:
1. The marketer offers the prospect an incentive to volunteer to opt-in to inbound messaging.
2. Using the attention offered by the consumer, the marketer offers a curriculum (over time) teaching the consumer about their products and/or services.
3. The incentive is reinforced to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permission given to the marketer.
4. The marketer offers more incentives to gain even more permission from the prospect as the relationship ages.
5. Over time the marketer leverages the permission to change consumer behavior and turn the new behavior into profits for the company.

10 things you can do to increase permission marketing in your own business:
1. Figure out the lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
2. Invent and build a variety of communication suites that you will use to turn strangers into friends

a. These “suites” should take place over time
b. They should offer the consumer a selfish reason to respond
c. The responses should alter the communication moving forward
d. The communication should have a “call to action” so that you can measure the success of a desired result

3. Change all advertising to contain at least some call to action
4. Measure the results of each suite, throw out the bottom 60% and replace them with new ones
5. Measure how many permissions you achieve through your efforts
6. Protect the permission base that is built, make sure you or someone else ensures that this permission is not abused
7. Work to automate your communication and move towards email (if you haven’t already)
8. Rebuild your website to turn it into a permission building machine
9. Regularly audit your permission base to see how well you are doing and how deep your permission goes
10. Leverage your permission by offering products and services and/or co-marketing with partners