September 03, 2007
We all know that "click here" is perhaps the weakest of all calls-to-action, and should be banned from any good copywriter's vocabulary.
However, coming in at a close second is "learn more". This generic phrase screams copywriting laziness and a lack of interest in understanding why a visitor to a page would actually be interested in learning more.
The use of "learn more" seems to be particularly prevalent in home page promo banners.
I see it used so regularly that when someone actually takes the time to write a more meaningful call-to-action, it really stands out.
Take a look at these home page promo examples from several technology-related sites:
The middle example, from IT services giant, EDS, is particularly egregious.
Let's ignore how hard the text is to read over the image and the fact that the main promo copy, "Joined-up Justice in the UK", is vague to the point of being meaningless.
Read more. Say those words over a few times and feel how lifeless they are; how they just sit there on the page, flat and insipid.
As far as calls-to-action are concerned, using "read more" is even worse than "learn more" as it doesn't convey any potential benefit that the visitor might get from clicking through. You'll get to read more — wow, hold me back!
Cisco do a better job with this call-to-action, although while it is sufficiently descriptive it is not especially compelling.
VMWare and IBM have both obviously cottoned on to how ineffectual "learn more" is. However, "take your first step" and "take a look" are not much in the way of improvements.
This promo from Sun is a perfect example of how a good call-to-action stands out from a bad one. Of the two links in the banner, is there any doubt that "Start Saving Now" is more compelling and is going to have a higher CTR than "Learn More"?
I would recommend taking this approach one-step further and removing the "learn more" link entirely. This makes the message being presented clearer and stronger. Never give someone two choices when one will do.
I like Oracle's approach. This could have so easily been a "learn more" link. Instead they opted for descriptive link text which avoids marketingese but still has enough of a hook to draw you in.
Incidentally, Oracle's bold, minimalist and link-heavy home page is worth checking out for a design that bucks the trend for corporate web sites.
To sum up, knowing how much time and expense it takes to develop banners and Flash promos (such as these) it surprises me that more thought isn't given to the call-to-action copy.
Most of the time it seems to be more of an after thought.
So, let's imagine you find yourself in a potential "learn more" situation. What options do you have?
The first course of action is simply to write a more descriptive link which summarizes what the visitor will do or see when they click through.
To do this effectively you need to know what the main value proposition is in the target content. Perhaps the key content is a PDF. Then why not say,
Download our free white paper on xyz
At least now you have a more descriptive (and therefore more useful) call-to-action.
The next step is to make it more compelling by moving from being simply descriptive to stating how the visitor will benefit from clicking through.
So, the above example might be developed to
Read our free white paper on 4 ways to reduce xyz costs
You get the idea. The key is to edit. You'll never get it right the first time, but after about 4 or 5 iterations you should be on to something pretty decent. If not, you should probably change tack and start over.
Sometimes, thanks to the way that the design process can go (pick/create pretty image and fit copy around it), there simply isn't space to write a longer, more descriptive call-to-action.
Even in these cases, you can still write something better than "learn more".
How about any of the following:
I'm not going to argue that these are great calls-to-action, but they are at least more action-oriented and break up the monotony of seeing "learn more" yet again.
Going back to that earlier Sun example, "Start saving now" only uses 6 more characters than "learn more", so even when space is tight, maybe you have more options for writing compelling copy than you think.
Posted on: September 3, 2007 | 3 Comments