Myth #4 Information “Above The Fold” – Why Your Most Important Call to Action Items Should Be Above the Fold

If there’s one thing that people believe in the marketing world, it’s that nothing that appears above the fold – which refers to the top portion of the front page of a newspaper – really matters to readers. In the digital world, the space “above the fold” primarily refers to the very first thing a viewer sees before clicking or scrolling becomes necessary. It’s not the only thing that matters to a reader, but it is where your most important call to action items should go.

How It Works on Newsprint

When you walk up to the newsstand to buy a newspaper, what’s the first thing you see? The vast majority of consumers will tell you that the first thing they notice is either the photo or the headline placed at the top of the front page. There’s a reason why it’s called a headline, too; it’s the most important piece of news being delivered to you via that newspaper. When a consumer makes the decision to buy a newspaper, it’s typically based on that particular story. In this case, the above-the-fold content has already done its job. It’s prompted the consumer to buy the newspaper, which is what keeps publishers in business.

How It Works Online

On your website, things are a bit different. You’re not asking your visitors to pay for access to all of the pages within. In fact, with a website, it’s the equivalent of walking up to the newsstand, picking up the paper, and reading it cover-to-cover without ever buying anything. Your visitors certainly have that option. Think about your goal and what you’re trying to accomplish with that website. Do you want to generate leads? Do you want to sell a product? Do you want to raise funds for a cause? If so, then the call to action should be where the visitor is going to see it – on the very first page he or she sees, before he or she has to click or scroll.

What Goes Above the Fold?

Now, with all of this information in mind, you need to approach the information and the call to action items that you’re including on your site with some delicacy. You don’t want your viewers to feel like they’re being pressured to buy something without having the opportunity to learn more about it, and you don’t want to force them to give you their contact information without telling them what they’ll get in return. What’s more, remember that a call to action doesn’t necessarily have to be a statement imploring your visitors to buy, donate, or provide information. It could be the answer to a problem that they’ve come to your website to solve.

Understanding the Difference

Fortunately, there have been several studies on the efficacy of putting information both above and below the fold. When a bold, in-your-face call to action is placed above the fold, it must be done in such a way that the user doesn’t feel pressured to buy. For example, instead of “Click Here to Buy Now!”, you might opt for something like, “Click here to learn more about how product ABC can solve your problem of XYZ.” This is compelling without feeling forceful. On the other hand, should you choose to put your call to action below the fold, just make sure your website tells a compelling story.

Although the space above the fold, both on a newspaper and on your website, is very important, this isn’t the only place where you should put your calls to action. In fact, it’s always best to make sure that your website tells a story that engages the reader and drives them to click, call, buy, or provide their information.