Does your website make the right ask?

Every marketer should be creating strong calls to action on their website. But what does that actually mean? Have you ever stopped to look at what actions your prospects actually want to take on your site?

Think about this scenario: A consumer is in the process of making a larger purchase that requires some consideration … let’s say she’s shopping for a new apartment.

Her search might look something like this:

  1. Start at Google. Try to get a sense of what is in the neighborhood.
  2. Check Craigslist to see if there are any good deals, or maybe a cool loft.
  3. After browsing a few sites, she has a short list of a few properties she wants to learn more about.
  4. Go back to Google, do a more specific search for the properties that look the best.
  5. Check Apartment Ratings, or maybe Yelp. What do other people have to say about these places?
  6. Visit the apartment community’s website to view some photos, see if they have any special offers and try to get a sense of whether it’s a place where she’ll want to live.
  7. Call the property, or fill out a contact form to schedule a time to see the property.

Stop. Right. There.

This is a process that we see everyday with our real estate clients. There might be different sites involved along the way, maybe a question to friends posted on Facebook or Twitter thrown in … but generally, this is what the shopping process looks like.

Very rarely is the prospective customer ready to buy the first time she gets to the apartment community’s website. Finding a place to live is a big decision — she wants to talk to someone, see the property for herself, tour a model apartment. (And if she’s on her phone, I promise you she doesn’t want to set up an account or start a nine-page application.)

Yet far too often, we see apartment websites that seemingly don’t understand this. Instead of nudging the customer to take that next step (“Want to see more? Schedule a personal tour of the property.”), they push for the sale right away (“APPLY NOW!“).

Buy now!

Slow down, tiger.

You’re moving way too fast. And you’re probably losing good, qualified customers because of it.

Take a look at your website. Make sure the ask matches how customers buy and where they’re at in the buying process. (And while you’re at it, make sure you know where those customers are coming from.)

If you run an e-commerce site, you want to close the deal right there. If you’re selling enterprise software, you want to answer questions and schedule a demo. If you’re trying to rent apartments, it’s safe to say that 90-95% of your customers won’t rent sight unseen. So why are you trying to make them do that? Instead, you should be making it as easy as possible for a prospect to contact you. Then let your sales team do their job.

For those apartment marketers, you can always include a link to the full application. Or email it to the prospect once they have a better idea of what they want. But don’t make it harder than you need to by asking for the sale too soon.