PAVE the Way to Effective Calls to Action
Date Published: 04 February 2010
In their book, Inbound Marketing(review), authors Shah and Halligan describe some key traits of effective calls to action. The four important qualities of killer calls-to-action are that they be Valuable, Easy-to-Use, Prominent, and Action-Oriented (chapter 8). The authors go on to suggest that this be referred to as “VEPA”, but I think we can do better than that. By simply shifting the letters by 2 positions, this becomes the much more memorable mnemonic, PAVE:
Prominent. Your offer must stand out. It should be difficult to miss. Don’t make potential customers have to think about how to interact with you.
Action-Oriented. You want the visitor to DO something. The call to action should compel the user to take action (hence the name) using a verb. A great analysis of the difference wording can make can be found here.
Valuable. Make sure it’s clear to the visitor what’s in it for them if they take action. Internet users have (justifiably) grown skeptical of wasting their time with offers online. Make sure your offer if valuable but also instills trust and helps you build a relationship with the user.
Easy-to-Use. Make it as simple as possible for the user to respond to your call to action. Think Amazon One-Click purchasing. Again, don’t make the user think about how to proceed, and don’t put any unnecessary barriers (like longer-than-necessary registration forms) in front of them.
So there you have it – four qualities of calls to action that will help PAVE the way to higher response rates for your web site. Perhaps when it comes time for a second edition of Inbound Marketing, they’ll use the PAVE acronym (and maybe even credit me).
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.