Action Figures: Answering the Call, One by One

More often than not, your readers, customers and clients — we'll collectively call them end-users — need things spelled out for them. Not in an insult-their-intelligence kind of way, but just a little prodding along so they know where to click next and why. Each clear directive you provide to your end-users so that they know which step to take next and for what purpose is what marketers refer to as a call to action. But in order for them to be effective, you must provide easy instructions.

For example, if you have a Web site that requires people to fill out a form, less is always more.

In the form below, note the two boxes beneath the form: One says 'Register' and the other says 'Home.' After filling out the form, the next step should be for the end-user to complete the registration process by clicking 'Register.' Take another look. You'll see there are a couple confusion-causing issues here:

1) The buttons are too close together (You shouldn't give your end-users too many choices; be simple by asking for just one call to action at a time.)

2) The 'Home' button is red in color, which means it stands out more to the user than the 'Register' button (Note: Red should be avoided on your site, if possible, since that color is often used for warning messages and errors.)

3) The 'Register' button looks less like a button than the more proportionately boxed 'Home' button

4) The 'Home' button is larger, so my eye naturally draws to it more than to the 'Register' button

Even though I'm a savvy Web user, I was fooled by the large red button, and I clicked it before realizing that I hadn't completed the registration process. As a result, I had to fill out the form again (frustrating) and click the 'Register' button first.

In this case, it would have been better to have a smaller button labeled 'Cancel' instead of 'Home,' making it clearer that the end-user has a choice between clicking 'Register' and canceling out their registration.

Action Done Right

A perfect example of clear calls to action can be found in the recent viral-video marketing campaign brilliantly executed by smoothie franchise Jamba Juice.

It begins with an eye-catching html e-mail (at left) that contains a link to a YouTube video.

Also, the subject line of the e-mail contains the interest-piquing phrase Cheeseburger Chill Smoothie — quite possibly the mother of all oxymorons — and it also includes one key component: the promise of a $1 off. That clues end-users in on the fact that they will be rewarded for what they read.

Once you click the video link, you are sent to YouTube to view the ad for the new smoothie. Go ahead and watch it; it's a lot of fun!

A screenshot of the video is below. Note the number of views.

The video uses parody as an engaging tool as well as a bouncy, catchy tune.

The actors in the video are so convincing about their love for the new smoothie that it can be hard for viewers to distinguish whether it's for real. If you read the comments under the video, you'll see a lot of people wondering aloud whether this smoothie is actually for sale. That kind of uncertainty creates a buzz (or controversy, even), and that buzz leads to large numbers of "You've got to see this!" hits.

The final shot of the video encourages viewers to visit a landing page, found at

Once there, viewers are finally given the explanation they were seeking as to whether the product is authentic.

The text on the landing page is written with a snarky tone, comparing the inanity of Jamba Juice making cheeseburger smoothies to fast-food burger joints now making smoothies (see below).

Then, Jamba Juice thanks the reader for "being in on the joke" (creating a sense of belonging with the Jamba newsletter community, making them feel smart and part of an elite group).

Best of all, after all those clear step-by-step calls to action, the campaign ends by providing a link for the reader to click to obtain a coupon for a $1 off any smoothie.

It's an excellent reward for their readers' time and attention.

Speaking of, why are you still reading this? Click the link above and get your Jamba Juice coupon! You've earned it.

Thanks for reading,


Want more tips and cool links? Follow me on Twitter.