If you have ever purchased something online or signed up for an online newsletter or some free service, you were most likely guided to do so while browsing the site you were visiting. Most likely, you responded to something like “Buy Now,” “Join Now,” “Sign Up,” “Learn More,” “Try It For Free,” “30-Day Free Trial,” “Subscribe,” “Join Today” or some other similar phrase. These are formally labeled “calls to action,” or CTAs.
To be as effective as possible, all websites must have a call to action. Why? Because they work. You wouldn’t get the satisfaction you normally get from locating the product or service you were looking for if you had to work hard to figure out how to purchase it. For this reason, your body shop website needs an effective CTA on the home page, up front and center and easy to see.
Call to Action
The term “call to action” has been used in marketing since long before Al Gore invented the internet. CTAs have given the public instruction and guidance on the steps to take to fulfill their needs for as long as there has been an exchange of something of value for something else of value. That’s a long time. However, after analyzing thousands of collision repair websites over the past 12 years, I’m surprised by the lack of effective CTAs on a large number of body shop websites.
What is an effective CTA for a body shop? There are many options to consider, with a couple being more important than others. Let’s take a look at some possible CTAs that should be on a body shop website:
- Request an estimate (most important)
- Get a free estimate
- Request/schedule an appointment
- Call us
- Get directions
- Find us
- Contact us (second most important)
- Find a location
- Text us now
- Get started
- Learn more
- See what others are saying
- See our certifications
- Leave a review
- Our community outreach
This is by no means every CTA you might have, but the most important ones for sure. Your CTAs should help guide your site visitor to do something you want them to do. Ultimately, you want them to bring you their car, right? You want them to give you the keys and sign your authorization-to-repair form. So, you should make it as easy for them as possible to do just that. And while this is important for all age and demographic groups, it is especially crucial for your younger audience who expects things to be easy…or else. Or else what? Or else they’ll lose their patience and find what they need elsewhere. If someone leaves your site because they’re frustrated by the lack of an effective CTA, they’ll likely never come back.
On a website, a CTA can be found on a button, banner, slider or some other graphic or text that captures the visitor’s attention and entices them to follow through with an action, i.e. a click.
We use what is called “heat mapping” to graphically see whether a call to action is actually capturing attention and generating those all-important clicks. We move buttons and banners as necessary if things aren’t generating the kind of results we’d like to see. We measure everything and can see the impact of moving things around within a month. We also put navigation buttons across the top in a left-to-right layout based on the importance of those buttons. Since we read left to right, we always put the most important CTA navigation button all the way to the left, followed by the next most important and so on. As a result of this epiphany we had years ago, we’ve seen a 30% increase in clicks to our most important CTA buttons. That translates into cars to fix for our clients.
Request an Estimate
A quick word about the “request an estimate” button – what we consider to be the most important CTA of all. Clearly, whatever someone submits on a request-an-estimate form online won’t enable us to give them an accurate estimate. That’s not the point. The point is to gather their pertinent information and then have well-trained people who are skilled over the phone follow up and ultimately ask for the opportunity to take a look at the car in-house and close the sale.
Check your own site. Do you have effective CTAs?
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.