You have likely shared in this experience. You initiated a search using your go-to search engine and then clicked on the link(s) that appeared most relevant to your task and then slogged your way through content that was ostensibly provided to help understand the topic at hand and make an informed decision. (I will revisit this assumption in a future post.) If you were lucky, when you reached the bottom of the page there was a single relevant invitation to take an action.
However, if your task had delivered you to the typical business-to-business site you were more likely either left to your own devices to determine what the next step should be, or confronted with no fewer than three equally weighted choices most certainly picked from a list that included: Buy, Try, Download, Learn more, Watch the Webinar, See the Demo, See the Datasheet.
Why is it we do this to valuable visitors?
Why do we alternately provide them with no guidance at all or overwhelm them with choices as if we had no preference for which selection they made. Both approaches are counter to the goals of all parties involved. They lead to inaction and protracted buying & sales cycles. If either of these outcomes describes the experience on any page of your company’s site, on behalf of your would-be-customers and your shareholders—please stop.
Google and Forrester have differing assessments regarding how far into the buying decision users are before they make contact, but it is somewhere between 57% and 90%. That is a great deal of unguided information gathering and determination of the most salient points in product selection. Marketers could help researchers and themselves simply by providing navigational calls-to-action at the bottom of each page that point visitors to the next concept important to making an informed decision. Our tests show that these navigational CTAs are used with greater frequency than those appearing in the secondary navigation or content areas.
The first question we ask stakeholders when called in to help is:
What is the primary business objective?
And we keep repeating this question down to the page level and ultimately to the individual CTAs. We do this because we understand human nature. More is not better. More result in visitors trying to keep all of their options open. If you cannot determine what action will most benefit your business, which action will result in the visitor getting to a buying decision faster, neither will they.
For this reason, reducing and prioritizing CTAs will most often result in higher conversion rates and better quality leads. Do not succumb to the temptation that you will capture more leads by trying to meet the needs of every visitor by presenting every possible path equally. That path leads to page abandonment and lower conversion rates.