Why No One Is Clicking Your School Website’s Calls-to-Action

June 11, 2017 Emily Cretella

If your website was a person, an expert presenter, would she be a keynote speaker or a workshop leader?

Here’s the difference: While both types of presenters have valuable lessons to teach and content to share, a keynote speaker is usually held at arm’s length. She is standing on stage, PowerPoint clicker in hand, telling the audience about a topic. Sure, there may be a question here or there, but it’s mostly her opinion, her information, and the audience is there to passively learn.

A workshop leader, on the other hand, is working side-by-side with participants. She is teaching, but she is interacting. She is welcoming questions, and providing specific answers that meet each person’s needs. She is helping every individual in the room move forward as they explore a topic.

You want your website to be a workshop leader. You want it to teach, but more important, to start a conversation. To be a catalyst for decision making. To help people advance in their exploration.

So what’s one of the best ways to transform your website from a passive information source to an engaging conversation starter?

Strengthen your calls-to-action.

Calls-to-action are those areas on your website where you are literally prompting someone to take a specific action. Think: Apply Now! Click Here! Contact Us! Inquire!

Now, all websites have (or should have) calls-to-action. But there’s a difference between calls-to-action that are effective and those that sit passively waiting for the right person to come along.

If your calls-to-action are not prompting any real action, you need to take some advice from our workshop leader and make them better meet your individual visitors’ needs.

Here’s why no one is clicking your calls-to-action, and how you can fix them:

#1: They’re not relevant.

If your visitors’ only choice is to click a button that says “Apply Now!” and they’re not ready to apply now, what do they do? They read (or skim) your content, and then bounce -- to another page, or another website.

What you can do: Provide better choices. Make sure your calls-to-action relate to the content on each individual page of your website and allows your visitors to act on it.

For example, if someone reading about tuition, don’t make them “Apply Now!”. Allow them to contact the appropriate person for follow-up questions, or lead them to a page that will alleviate some of the common concerns families have about tuition.

Think about what their next logical step in the decision-making process is, and lead them through that path.

#2: They’re not personal.

If all of your calls-to-action simply say “Click here!” … well, no one is clicking. Why? Because clicking isn’t what the visitor wants to do -- what the visitor wants is the RESULT of the clicking.

What you can do: Focus on the outcome. For example, “Click here to contact admissions” … should instead say: “Contact Admissions Now”. “Click here to download a PDF of our brochure” … should instead say: “Get Your Complete School Guide”. “Click here to schedule a school visit” … should instead say: “Schedule My Family Visit”.

Make your calls-to-action personal and interesting by using the words “your”, “my”, “mine” and by focusing on the intended outcome of the action rather than the action itself.

#3: They’re not clear.

INQUIRE. It’s such an odd call-to-action. Because as a website visitor, what do I want to inquire about? Anything on my mind? Not having enough direction will make a visitor choose no direction.

What you can do: Be specific. Give permission. You don’t want to make your audience have to think. Give them options to choose from by including a drop-down menu on forms with suggested topics or questions, or by being more specific and precise with your wording.

So instead of a blanket “Inquire” call-to-action, perhaps connect it to the content on the page (see example #1) and say: “Ask About Our Financial Aid Options”. This gives your audience permission to take a next step even if they don’t really know what that next step should be.

#4: There’s no urgency.

If your visitors don’t feel compelled to click that call-to-action right now, they’re most likely not coming back to click it later.

What you can do: Add a timeframe. Including simple words like “now” and “today” will help increase the sense of urgency. You can also get specific with your offerings and add dates or timeframes: “Book Your Visit By June 20” or “RSVP for Our Open House -- Only 3 Spots Left”.

By reminding your visitors that they need to take action before an offer expires or ends, you are helping to nudge them forward in their decision-making process.

Those are four simple ways to make your calls-to-action much more click-worthy -- and transform your website into an engaging, hands-on, teaching resource.

Want more ideas for effective, easy-to-implement school marketing strategies? Learn how to create and share stories your audiences will love on the Cursive Content Marketing blog, or tweet us at @emilycretella / @blackbaudK12.

About the Author

Emily Cretella

Emily Cretella is a marketing strategist and copywriter who helps her clients create and share stories that make audiences take action. As owner of Cursive Content Marketing, Emily provides consulting, copywriting services and workshops to independent schools and higher education. Read her stories at cursivecontent.com.

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