In my recent post, 6 Best Practices for Your Website’s User Flow, I outlined the typical path we recommend professional firms use to drive visitors through their site. This user flow defines, at a high-level, how you’d like to see a client lean into a business relationship with your firm. It accounts for the reality that a client’s journey towards hiring you is complex and multi-dimensional. And, it acknowledges that journey as requiring multiple site visits as well. The user flow, as we defined it follows this progression:
- Thought Leadership
- Case Stories
In this post, I suggest calls-to-action (“CTAs”) you might use to progress people through this flow.
#1 – Thought Leadership
As previously stated, a high-performing professional firm’s website should be yielding 60% – 65% of its traffic from search. The majority of these visitors are originating on educational content — blogs, articles, research studies, etc. You have two objectives for every new visitor to your site. First, is to keep them there. Second, is to convert them into your marketing database. There are a few CTAs you can use to accomplish both of these objectives.
Engaging Visitors and Keeping Them on Site
Your first objective with a new visitor is to engage them in what you have to say. This means, of course, producing high quality content. But, it also means progressing visitors to other useful content as well. There are a few tools you can use to keep visitors on a site including Related Content Widgets (see on the right if you’re viewing this page on a desktop, at the bottom if on a mobile device). Another tool many publishers use (that can be easily applied to a professional firm) is a simple “Read Next” system. This implies a logical progression of content. Either of these tools can be dynamically-driven (by the CMS itself) or user-managed.
Converting Visitors into Your Marketing Database
This is the first meaningful transition in the client’s journey. This is the moment when the anonymous website visitor raises their hand and provides you with permission to market to them in the future. This is a critical step because it affords you the opportunity to shape that potential client’s buying journey in the future. There are a few CTAs you can use to accomplish this. The first, is a simple subscription form. The second is a content offer — to download an eBook, complete an assessment, register for a webinar or access a webinar recording:
#2 – Homepage
We’ve written at length about the merits (or rather lack thereof) of homepage carousels. Your objective on the homepage is not to overwhelm people with options (as carousels tend to do). Nor, is it to keep the homepage “fresh.” While we may feel a need to do so, on most sites 65% – 75% of traffic to the homepage is new visitors. So, usually, homepage visitors are just looking to get situated. Generally, the best thing you can provide is a clear summary of your firm (that can be read in less than 10 seconds) with a simple, direct CTA for the visitor to learn more:
#3 – About
The About page is designed to expand that short homepage summary and tell a longer form of your firm’s story — something that can be consumed in less than 2-3 minutes. That story should state why your firm exists, who it works with, what it does, and the impact of its work. While visitors to the About section often want to explore other aspects of the firm’s story (such as culture, leadership or history), your goal is to continue to shape your clients’ buying journeys. The CTAs you’ll use to do that may be as simple as contextual links into high-level service pages:
#4 – Services
I’ve often talked about the Problem > Solution > Benefits > Proof framework we use to structure the content on a Services page. That said, there are a few CTAs we recommend having on most Service pages.
Related Case Stories
A well-written case story is an element of proof that your firm really has the expertise it claims. Every Service page should provide a link to at least 1 relevant, named case story. Remember, 1 named case story is far more effective than 10 unnamed ones. When it comes to case stories, quality trumps quantity every time.
The end goal of your user flow is to deliver high quality conversations to key people in your practice. A Service page is generally the first appropriate place to include a CTA to this effect. The CTA could be a link to that leader’s bio or you may choose to provide direct contact information (email, telephone number):
#5 – Case Stories
Case stories enable new potential clients to put themselves in the shoes of your existing or past clients. Ideally, they can relate to the challenges and frustrations of those clients at the onset of their relationship with you, and can envision a better future reality for themselves within the context of your story. As such, the most effective CTA on a Case Story page is a Contact form. You want to enable that next stage in the progression and invite the prospect into a conversation. Generally, we do not recommend including links to thought leadership content directly from Case Stories as that can have the effect of pushing people backwards in their decision-making process. That said, we generally do recommend providing links to key project leaders so we can enable that next stage in the user flow:
#6 – People
People pages are a bit unique as they’re often the culmination of the user flow. After all, your end objective is to deliver a conversation and you’ve delivered the visitor to someone who presumably has the expertise to solve the problem the potential client was looking to solve in the first place. So, your most important CTA is generally the contact information for the consultant him or herself:
In this article, I’ve described the linear progression of a firm’s website user flow and applied CTAs at every point of that journey. It’s important to note that today’s digital marketing tools can enable you to bring that flow to the client. Smart CTAs enable you to build the progression of CTAs described here in a workflow that can be deployed anywhere on the site. The Smart CTA simply deploys the next CTA in the sequence as the visitor completes the actions within the progression — no matter where those actions occur on the site.
While no client’s digital buying journey is ever as linear as we’ve described here, the goal of your user flow and the CTAs you use to enable it is simply to progress clients directionally through their buying process. Clients will jump on and off at various points in the process and that’s okay. The simple fact that you’ve planned for a linear progression will help to guide people in the proper direction over time.
Learn more about website user flows in the Website Best Practices Module of our Online Training program.