Call To Action Best Practices for Interior Designers and Architects

zig ziglar "Stop Selling. Start Helping"

For many architectural and interior design firms, a website is simply an online portfolio. It sure looks good but probably results in a helluva lot of missed opportunities. A website is often no more than step two in a three step, word-of-mouth referral, and marketing process. 

  1. Learning about your service from a contact
  2. Viewing your work online
  3. Requesting and signing a contract

The problem is, the three-step process has been eliminated by easy access to information and a trend towards an increased level of research before purchase. If you think about it, you probably research purchase more than ever as well. This research has changed the face of marketing home design and improvement services. The most effective marketing today is marketing that answers questions and promotes a firm as a thought leader.  Website call-to-actions are the visual prompts that encourage an exchange of contact information for the expertise that answers a prospects question.

When built to intentionally market your firm, a website should educate prospective clients with information about the work you do and act as a lead generation tool. This is done by having keyword rich, written content on your site that attracts prospects (ideally with a blog) and once on your site, trading advice to those visitors for their contact information. It is called inbound marketing.

Websites designed for inbound marketing work best for two types of built environment businesses.

  • Firms whose business goals include growth beyond a circle of friends, former customers, and business associates.
  • New firms seeking prospective clients and awareness without spending tens of thousands of dollars on print advertising in home magazines.

Moving visitors from informational pages to lead conversion pages is done with what is known in marketing speak as a call-to-action. A call to action (CTA) is a clickable item, such as a button or link on your site, that takes a visitor to a separate page. Typically, a CTA has the goal of moving prospective clients towards pages with an intentional sales goal like landing pages. Landing pages are pages that contain a marketing offer such as a guide, study, pricing or product that is made available if a contact form is filled out. Landing pages are designed to encourage an exchange of information for the permission to market to visitors again in the future. Most commonly with email marketing. CTA's are an integral step in transitioning anonymous visitors into qualified leads by requesting visitors to do something rather than operate as merely passive visitors to your site.

CTA's are asking for an investment from a prospect, and they only work when the "ask" comes at the right time in the sales cycle. Some CTA's make requests that have a low barrier to entry like exchanging a name and an email address for a guide or paper. Others require a greater commitment from your prospects such as requesting a meeting or phone consultation. It is important to think of blogs your writing, offers, and emails, as well as the call to actions as steps in a buyers journey. A CTA that asks a prospect to "Learn More" would be an early stage CTA whereas "Add to Cart" is a CTA that falls at the end of the cycle because it commits a customer to making a purchase.

Tip: Consider mapping out your buyer's journey before you jump into writing blogs, creating offers designing CTA's and developing landing pages.

TYPES OF CTAS

LEARN MORE

Use a "Learn More" CTA to engage visitors who are at the beginning of the buyers journey. Use them to build trust. A good practice is to attach some Learn More CTA's to landing pages and allow direct content downloads without the need to give up contact information with others. A recent study by Houzz stated that the average sales cycle from initial contact to signed contract on a simple garage or out building is just over six months. Take the time to inform prospects about what it is that you do and how they can engage your services with offers that encourage giving up contact information. At the very least and if well written, ongoing emails keep your firm top-of-mind during the six-month (or longer) buyer's research period. "Learn More" CTAs are great at the end of a page, content block or the bottom of a blog article. Locating a CTA after a topic provides you an opportunity to drive visitors towards more in-depth information on a subject they've demonstrated an interest. Take the Paul Harvey approach. Provide just enough information to encourage visitors to click on your CTA and fill out the form on the landing page to get further information. "And now, for the rest of the story." Like most CTAs, Learn More buttons tend to be large or have a contrasting color that's designed to grab visitor attention. Choose your design wisely. Especially on busy pages like blogs.

DOWNLOAD NOW

A companion to the Learn More CTA is a Download button. Download buttons are effective when you have a high-quality piece of content that warrants an exchange of information. In a Download button, consider including relevant information such as the content type and size. An example of this would be, "A Professionals Guide To Remodeling a California Bungalow. Download our 22 Page e-Book." These small details should not detract from the primary CTA. Use them to set expectations, and give an added boost of confidence that will help encourage a click through at that the critical moment.

SIGN-UP CTA'S

A Sign-Up used to get visitors to commit to ongoing contact compared to a single informational download. Use them in the midpoint of the buyers journey where visitors are beginning to trust that you will not waste their time with poor content. Keep in mind that you will always have prospects that are more willing to sign-up for a one-time event then are willing to sign-up for an indefinite commitment of ongoing contact. Use Sign-up CTA's for e-newsletters and for sending blog articles to prospective clients.

EVENT CTA'S

A related CTA is to encourage visitors to attend or register for an event. This could be a trade show, an open house a webinar or a class designed to help people better understand your services. Event registrations are a great way to add middle-of-the-funnel leads to your pool of potential customers. Because a registration is a one-time event, it's also less of a commitment from a potential lead, which should lead to more click-throughs. But keep in mind that click throughs are only one indicator of success. They still need to commit to attending the event. Even if they fail to attend, you'll have their email to follow up, possibly even entice them to download a summary of what they missed!

Tip: Link your CTA to the free service Eventbrite to encourage sign-ups and to share your event with an audience that may not have heard of your firm.

E-COMMERCE CTA

If your interior design business sells accessories online, a CTA that fits important. We see "Add to Cart" buttons only on individual product pages. Some alternatives include "Buy Now" or "Add to Bag." This CTA has become common enough to be represented simply by a shopping cart icon. Major e-commerce retailers like Amazon have standardized their design for the Add to Cart button, even using a slightly darker—but similar—shade for the "Buy now with 1-Click."

DESIGNING A CTA

We always recommend using a professional to create your call-to-action buttons but if you are looking to build them yourself give Canva a try. Canva is a free design tool that allows you to create a set of consistent, branded CTA's that work within your websites color scheme. Testing and analysis are the only sure ways to know your CTA is generating the best possible numbers of click-throughs. Keep the following in mind when designing your CTA's.

  • Increase contrast and use bold colors that make the CTA the most visually important design asset on the page
  • Use white space (or,negative space)  around the CTA to signify importance and attract attention
  • Balance the CTA so that it is large enough to attract attention but not so large as to dominate the space
  • Write your CTA's in clear, simple, and direct language. Do not be verbose.
  • Use a font that is brand consistent, large and bold, without feeling out of place from the rest of the page
  • Instill urgency and include a reason for visitors to act sooner rather than later
  • If necessary, use supporting information. It should be smaller and/or a different color to keep from distracting from your objective.
  • Add icons or images to help get results. One of the most common icons added to CTAs is an arrow for downloading
  • Keep your CTA file sizes small. A quick load speed is important to search engine optimization

Your website will require ongoing updates and careful curation, not just to stay current with technical requirements but to be found by search engines as well. Make sure you are making updates a regular part of your marketing and include new call-to-actions, landing pages content offers and email marketing as part of those updates. Inbound marketing is the holistic act of providing great content to prospects who want to educate themselves. CTA buttons enable you to gather contact information and engage prospects on a regular basis.


About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems. 

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