Make your primary call to action something besides a phone call

Is the primary call to action on your website ‘Call us’? (or some variation)

If so, you may want to reconsider.

Marketing Tips: Make Calls To Action More Than Just Phone Calls

This week, I was reminded by a few experiences of my own that picking up the phone is not the first instinct for many people – particularly the kind of prospects you say you want. Those who are modern, constantly-online, and using the most current technology.

Many of your prospects prefer anything but a phone call.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m on the phone quite a lot myself. But I’m on the phone to people who have appointments. Scheduled phone calls. We’ve arranged it ahead of time because I’ve judged it a good use of my time – or they’re a client or a strategic partner. I take phone calls from people I know and trust, and who I’m working on existing projects with.

But when it comes to sorting out problems or contacting suppliers or choosing new businesses to work with, the phone is the last thing I want to use.

Here’s an example:

My bank sent me a letter (in the post??!) saying that I had an old business account which clearly wasn’t being used. They suggested I might want to close it (which I do) and the only option they gave me was to phone up and discuss it.

I kept running across the letter multiple times over the past two weeks. Every time I thought of phoning, I was in the middle of something or it was outside their 9.00am – 5.00pm hours.

I finally, today, rang them at 9.05am. I was put on hold. Finally someone said ‘hello?’, as though I was ringing them at home. I explained the situation, pretty much reading back to them the letter they sent me. They put me on hold. Then he came back and said ‘You can’t close an account over the phone – you need to go into your branch.’


I’ve just wasted all this time, effort, and frustration because the letter was useless, the phone call was useless, and – let’s face it – the person answering the phone was pretty useless, too.

Sadly this is a typical, not strange, experience. I could list several others, very similar. An online login didn’t work – and the suggested solution is to pick up the phone. For a login I am attempting online. I’m sent a letter telling me to set up an online login … and a phone number is provided. In America. Not only is it another country, it’s another time zone and a lot higher cost. I’m attempting to make a payment online and I can’t remember my username. The option provided to me is to pick up the phone.

Additional contact options (besides a phone number)

Here are the options that I would prefer, every time, in order:

  1. Live chat. I’m there now, I have the problem now, I would love to have it solved now. O2 does a brilliant job of this. Every single time I’ve gotten my issue sorted immediately, online, with no hassle.
  2. Social media. I prefer this before email, because it’s public (so they’re more likely to respond, so they don’t look bad as a company). Response is much more likely to be within an hour, rather than within 2-3 days.
  3. Contact form. This is still preferred before email, because if I’m confident that the form is going to the right person, it feels more likely that I’ll get a response faster. It’s even more amazing if I fill in the form (or send an email) and it’s obvious that they’re using a customer service system like Zendesk.
  4. Email. I use this option when I’m not in so much of a hurry. I’d like to get a reply, but I’m conscious it won’t be instant. Still, I’m pretty horrified when I send an email and they promise a response ‘within 5 business days’. Are you joking me? I’m not sending a handwritten letter to an international destination, I’m sending an instant electronic message which at the very most should take a half an hour to appear.

Granted, I’ve written this out more along the ‘customer service’ than the ‘prospective new customer’ lines, but the same principles apply. I’m far more likely to use the above items in order when I’m looking to do business with a new company.

So, back to your website.

There’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to pick up the phone. Or making it visible. If your clients or prospects do want to speak with someone, it’s good to have that option obvious and available.

But what about all the others who aren’t ready to phone yet?

Think about it: what does it say about your prospects when they use a phone number instead of another means of communication? It implies that the person:

  • Is ready to talk
  • Is interested enough to listen
  • Prefers the phone rather than another form of contact
  • Wants to connect with a human being
  • Is in a hurry
  • Has a complicated query that requires detailed explanation
  • Is probably willing to meet in person

Now, that may be some of your prospects …but not the majority of them. Many of the people visiting your site, or even wanting to get in touch with you are:

  • Extremely busy
  • Not sure yet if they want to do business with you
  • Just wanting an answer to a simple question
  • Not willing to spend too much time yet
  • In the middle of seven different activities at the same time
  • Not too bothered how they get in touch as long as their question is answered
  • Not ready to meet in person

I’ve written before about how your prospects buy your services – and the methods they use to get in touch with you.

The primary v the secondary call to action

You see, there are two options for the interested prospect:

1. The primary call to action: This is the phone call, the ‘I’m interested in this service’ contact form, the ‘buy now’ option on the site. This is for those who are ready to buy. They want to buy. They’d like to buy today, if at all possible, and the easier you make it the more likely they are to do business with you.

2. The secondary call to action: This is the helpful, relevant information for the person who likes what you do, but isn’t ready to buy yet. This can be a whole variety of things (download our 27 Content Ideas for Accountants), including:

  • Ebook
  • Webinar invite
  • Infographic
  • Industry guide
  • Training video
  • Template or checklist
  • Social media connection
  • … and many others

What I’m recommending is not that you remove the phone number from your site – particularly if you have many clients who love to use the phone to get in touch! But it’s extremely important that you have a secondary call to action that is available for those who aren’t quite ready to do business with you, but they like what you’ve got on offer. Or they think they might like it, and they want to test you out in some small way.

Here, join me in an upcoming webinar.

(See what I did there?)