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Want Effective Calls to Action? Use 'Action Trains'

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Ever wonder why whenever you buy virtually anything online, almost always you're asked to consider some form of add-on or otherwise asked to do just one more thing?

Think back to the last time you paid a bill or did some shopping on the Web; throughout the process you were probably bombarded with add-ons, suggested perks, or enticing offers.

Now think about why companies do that (and it's not just because they happen to want to sell something). Why are they so desperate to get just one more thing in there? Why not just sell to you next week? Why right then and there?

The truth is that the most difficult task in marketing is getting people to take the action you want them to take. But once they have taken an action, getting them to take yet another action becomes much easier.

Near 100% opt-in rates?

A good opt-in offer has a 5-10% conversion rate with even high-quality traffic. However, the email opt-ins that follow up a product purchase online have near 100% rates. Why? Because the customer has committed to his path.

Once you get the person over the initial hump, getting them to do "just one more thing" is relatively easy.

It's what I like to call an "action train."

Consumers online are like big, clunky old trains. To get them to build up steam and get going can take a lot of effort; but once you do get them to move, keeping them moving and achieving more than your initial goal becomes much easier.

Lets put this in perspective... with car insurance

Esurance on Facebook has 158,000 likes. Does any one really like car insurance that much? Probably not. Nevertheless, Esurance is connected to 158,000 people on Facebook and is able to potentially reach them via a single medium, for free, whenever it wants.

So how on earth does this company have this many likes? The answer is, It has included the "just one more thing" tactic in its insurance quote process.

Here is how it works:

First Step : Get the train moving by making everything super easy

You land on the Esurance site because of all the snazzy commercials. Now look at the site. Super simple: There are two boxes, and one is already filled out for you.

The reason Esurance takes this approach is because once you fill out that one little form, the "action train" is now in motion, making the initial action hump very minor (its just one tiny form!).

Second Step: Use the momentum of the "action train"

Now, as you are whizzing through the forms, you're asked for your email address.

Does Esurance really need your email to give you a quote? No, it could just give it to you right there, on the site. But you don't even think twice about it because you have already committed to taking action.

Oh... and it also needs your mailing address, and your phone number, too.

Third Step : Get away with as much as possible

Finally, Esurance will bring you to a page where it offers you a 5% discount for liking it on Facebook.

You are already in action mode, so of course you are going to click Like. I mean... it's a whole 5% off!

And just like that, in one train of action, Esurance has your email, address, phone number, and permission to market to you on Facebook. "Just one more thing" turned into many things, and you are now deep within this business's web (status updates, mail, phone calls, etc.).

Are you getting the most out of your customer's action?

What shocks me is that many businesses completely ignore asking for "just one more thing"; consequently, they leave truckloads of cash and exposure on the table.

Why? Because once a customer is done taking action, it again becomes extremely difficult to get that customer to take action again, which is why you have to strike as soon and as much you can when the "action train" is in motion.

Think about your business. After customers or prospects take an action, would it be that difficult to...

  • Give a tiny benefit for a Facebook like
  • Forward an additional offer that goes together with the current one
  • Get them to watch a short video showing how awesome your business is

No, it would not be... because they are already on an action train.

Action trains changed my blog forever

I run a popular SEO blog named Source Wave. However, even though we get a large amount of traffic and interaction, getting Facebook likes was painful.

Ironically, we would get 75-100 subscribers a day, but, surprisingly, more people would subscribe than like our site. So I combined the subscription and liking processes into an "action train" model: When a person subscribed to our 24 hour SEO blueprint, we'd offer an additional video course in exchange for liking us.

The after implementing this approach, our likes went from 3-4 a day to 75-100. People who opted in also liked our page almost 100% of the time. Because they were on an "action train."

Now our traffic from Facebook has gone from a light drizzle to a full storm of visitors.

There is so much more

We do not have to stop there, though, because getting people to sign up for our forum, check out another business of ours, or take virtually any other action has just become much easier.

The best part is that this approach can be applied to just about any business to get customers who are already on "action trains" to fill out surveys, connect on LinkedIn, or even read another sales page.

The true power of "action trains" is that you are able to systematically achieve multiple marketing objectives with one "train" rather than having to get multiple "trains" started at separate times and touchpoints.

In short: Once the train gets going, use its momentum to go farther than you've ever gone before!

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Alex Becker is the owner of marketing blog SourceWave and an expert in search engine optimization and online conversion.

Twitter: @SourceWave

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  • by Andrew Fri Mar 1, 2013 via web

    Alex - Really helpful info for the online marketing industry. This stuff really works people!

  • by Steven Fri Mar 1, 2013 via web

    I would be curious to see how many of the 135,000+ likes are actually engaged. Just having people like your page does not mean anything at all unless they are engaged.

  • by Christy Fri Mar 1, 2013 via web

    It sounds a little like buying your (Facebook) friends.

  • by Brian Donovan Fri Mar 1, 2013 via web

    "Consumers online are like big, clunky old trains. To get them to build up steam and get going can take a lot of effort" Lines like that are written by 20 somethings with little sense or knowledge of history. Steam locomotives were the dominate form of transportation in the country for nearly 100 years. They were engineering marvels and capable of speeds well over 100 mph and made travel through the entire country possible. Hopefully, someday America will get over its carbon fuel obsession with the automobile and join the rest of the world by building high speed rail.

  • by Vahe, MarketingProfs Fri Mar 1, 2013 via web

    Hi, Brian. That line was actually edited/re-written by a 50-something editor... ;)

    The analogy holds: Building up a head of steam does indeed take time and energy... but once the steam is built up, the engine operates, as you point out, efficiently and at high speed--exactly the point the author is trying to make.

  • by Michal Sat Mar 2, 2013 via web

    Guess I'm on the "action train!" Read your article, commented, posted to LinkedIn. Great insight. Thanks!

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