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The Path to Results: Your Customer’s Next Step

Customers need to know the right next step on your website. How clear is your call to action? Do you have a plan for the people who aren’t ready to buy today?

Jeremy Harrison


How do you know when you have an effective website?  Is it effective because it looks good? Is it effective because it gets a lot of traffic? Or is it something else? Of course your website should look good and get traffic, but most site owners agree that the key indicator of an effective website is whether it gets results. 

Results come from visitors taking action on the website. That’s why the most costly mistake businesses make with their website relates to the call-to-action (CTA)—that “next step” you invite the visitor to take.  

Today we’re going to talk about two types of CTAs your website needs, and how you can get better results with a better CTA. 

When a new prospect takes their first step and finds your website (because of how well you optimized your site for search, perhaps, or because of your brand awareness, or because you’ve gotten your target marketing right for paid ads, or because your content marketing is customer-focused), is the second step clear? Does your customer know what to do next?

This is another big mistake we see organizations make on their websites. They may have invested in a beautifully designed site, but the visitor has no idea what they’re supposed to do next. Buy now? Read more? Come back later? Exit stage left? It is important for every business to define two clear calls-to-action (or CTA) for their site: a direct CTA and a transitional CTA.

Direct Call-to-Action

Say your prospective customer is absolutely taken by your compelling content and marketing message. They are among the 3% of website visitors who are actively searching for your service and are ready to buy now. You really want this customer to know exactly the right next step to do business with you.

That’s the direct call-to-action.

The direct call to action ought to be clear, to the point, and precise. We recommend having no more than two direct calls to action on any page of content—more than that, and you’ve presented your customer with too many options. Your (clickable for mobile) phone number counts as one of those direct CTAs.

For some service industries, it can be tricky to come up with the best language to help a customer take that next step, especially if the buy-in leads to a complicated process or high-ticket purchase. Understanding your customer’s needs is just as important at the direct CTA stage as every other stage in your customer life cycle.

Take, for instance, estate planning. Few people feel the urgency of estate planning, so it’s easy to land on a site and navigate away, especially if the call to action is something like “schedule a consultation” or “complete this paperwork.” What does the estate planning prospect really want to do next? They want to “Start Planning.” That desire became the direct CTA on their website. On the other side of that button is a quick, simple form to collect their contact information. All of the other nitty gritty details will follow.

What is the most direct next step to do business with you? Here are some winning examples (Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind.” We believe in that principle for CTAs as well):

  • Buy Now
  • Request a Quote
  • Schedule a Meeting
  • Get a Free Estimate

The direct CTA is essential to meet the needs of the 3% of website visitors that are ready to buy. But there are also 7% of people in your market who may be shopping around with the intent to do something about their problem. There’s another 30% of your market out there who need your product but just aren’t feeling the pressure of those needs yet. That’s why you need a second kind of CTA for people who aren’t ready to buy. We call this a transitional CTA, and it strikes at the heart of this larger, cooler pile of prospects.

Transitional Call-to-Action

It would be great if we could all just be decisive buyers, know what we want, when we want it, visit the vendor of our choice, and buy on demand. But most people aren’t like that. It takes the average buyer at least eight touches before they are ready to move forward with their purchase. That’s a lot. Your site visit is the first. Maybe they saw an ad somewhere. There’s a second. How are you going to reach them for the next six touches to entice them back?

The transitional CTA is intended to meet the needs of the people who are not ready to buy. It should be enticing, or magnetic, to the point that the customer is willing to give you their contact information, even though they aren’t ready to purchase. For that reason, the offer you make as part of your transitional CTA is called a “lead magnet.”

A great lead magnet demonstrates your credibility and expertise. It moves the customer closer to a sale without feeling salesy. And it’s quickly consumed in just a few minutes.

That exchange of email address for lead magnet provides you with an avenue to follow-up with this long and growing list of potential customers over time. We’ll go into more detail about follow-up in a future blog.


When you get your CTAs right, your customer knows exactly what to do next. There’s no fog or confusion, just “buy now” or “stay connected to maybe buy later.” This is a common mistake organizations make on their websites and in their marketing. We’ve identified six other mistakes as well. How does your business measure up? Attend one of our upcoming 7 Costly Website & Marketing Mistakes Seminars to learn more.

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