When it comes to conversion rate optimization, your call-to-action buttons are the ultimate low-hanging fruit. Even minor tweaks to button design and a copy can have a major impact on conversions.
Here are 10 examples from A/B tests I’ve conducted, where I’ve experimented with everything from copy and button design over to the placement of the button.
1. 90% increase in CTR by changing one word in the button copy
Oli from Unbounce.com and I recently ran a split test on a PPC landing page that pitches a free 30-day trial of the Unbounce.com landing page platform.
The only thing we did was to tweak one word in the copy – we changed the possessive determiner “You” to “My”. After running the test for three weeks, the treatment button copy, “Start my free 30-day trial” had increased the click-through rate to the payment page by 90%.
The biggest change on the page doesn’t necessarily result in the biggest lift.
Conversion rate optimization really isn’t about optimizing web pages – it’s about optimizing decisions – and the page itself is a means to an end but not an end in itself.
Mission critical elements like call-to-action buttons represent a small change on the page, however, they have the major impact on the decisions of your prospects.
So, when you approach a CRO project, try not to think of how to optimize the page itself – instead focus on the goal of the page and how to accelerate the decision-making process of the potential customers.
Bonus case study:
One might be inclined to label the above-mentioned test a fluke because it seems so out of proportion that one word could have such a dramatic effect. But I’ve performed the same test on several other sites and consistently seen dramatic lifts by simply changing the possessive determiner “Your” to “My” in the CTA copy.
Here’s an example of how changing the possessive determiner from, “My” to, “Your” decreased conversion by 24.91% on a forum payment page.
2. 35.81% increase in conversion by changing button color on product landing pages
I’ve anonymized the client here, but we’re talking about a major European e-commerce site that sells hand-painted porcelain.
In this case, we were able to increase sales via product pages (not just CTR) by 35.81% by changing the color of the call-to-action button.
The color of your CTA button has major impact on your potential customers’ decisions – and thereby also your conversion rate.
Think of the button design/color as a visual cue that helps your prospects hone in on the button. In other words it answers the question, “Where should I click?”
The trick is to make your button stand out from the rest of the page in such a way that it’s easy to spot and identify as a clickable button.
Unfortunately, there are no set rules for which colors work, and rules like, “Never use red – it’s a stop color” or, “Green is always best – it’s a positive color” are plain stupid. I’ve seen plenty of tests were red buttons have performed well, and if you have a mostly green website, a green button is most likely going to be very difficult to spot.
It’s all about finding out what works on your specific website, and the only way of doing that is through rigorous testing.
3. 14.79% increase in conversion by adding value to the CTA copy
This is a test I recently conducted on MatchOffice.com – an international commercial real estate portal through which businesses can find offices for rent.
Once a prospect finds a relevant office, they have to click to the main CTA in order to get more information on the office via e-mail. This means that clicking the CTA is the main conversion goal, and every extra click potentially means money in the bank.
By changing the button copy from, “Order Information and Prices” to, “Get information and Prices” we increased conversions by 14.79%.
The copy you use in your buttons has the major impact on your prospects’ decisions. Button color and design are important visual cues that tell the prospect where to click. But in the last critical moment, the copy itself is what impacts the prospect’s final decision. In other words, your CTA copy answers the question, “Why should I click this button?”
The more value you can convey via your button copy, the more conversions you’ll get. The word “Order” emphasizes what you have to do – instead of what you’re going to get. Whereas, “Get” conveys value as it emphasizes what you’re going to get – rather than what you have to do to get it.
CTAs that begin with “Buy”, “Order”, “Click”, “Sign-up”, etc. inherently focus on what you have to part with. Coming up with alternatives that start with, “Get” helps you focus on answering the prospects’ number one question, “What’s in it for me?”
Bonus case study:
Just in case you think this test is a fluke, here’s an example from a Danish sister website where exactly the same exercise resulted in a lift of 38.26%. Yes, this technique also works in other languages than English.
4. 213.16% increase in conversion by making the copy more relevant
The client here is Fitness World, a major chain of gyms in Scandinavia. The example here is taken from a PPC landing page, where the goal is to get potential customers to click through to the payment page where they can select a gym and sign up for a membership.
In this case changing the CTA copy from, “Get Membership” to, “Find Your Gym & Get Membership” increased click through to the payment page by 213.16%.
The control version is already pretty good because it conveys value and focuses on what you’re going to get – not what you have to do to get it. Nevertheless, it is very generic, “Get membership” could pretty much apply to any situation that has something to do with a membership.
I did a little research and found out that the location is a very important factor, when deciding on a membership. So, in this case I could make the call-to-action more relevant to the specific conversion scenario and increase conversions by adding “Find gym” (Step 1 in the checkout flow features a complete list of gym locations).
5. 18.01% decrease in conversion by tweaking the font color
This is an example from a test I ran on the home page of a Danish portal through which you can buy and sell used cell phones.
Here I hypothesized that I could make the button stand out more and increase CTR by changing the font color in a green button from black to yellow. What a backfire! Changing the font color actually decreased click through by 18.01%.
This simple case study illustrates that even minor tweaks to your button design can directly impact conversion. Moreover, it emphasizes the importance of testing whether your optimization efforts are in fact optimizing the performance of your website.
6. 31.03% increase in conversion on a payment page by tweaking the button copy
Here’s an example from a test I ran on the payment page for WriteWork.com – a subscription-based education website for college and university students.
In this case, tweaking the button copy and adding the benefit, “Get started”, increased conversion by 31.03%. This is the very last step in the conversion funnel, and every single conversion means money in the bank.
Adding a clear benefit to the call-to-action increases both the value and relevance conveyed by the copy.
Customer analyses of WriteWork’s target audience have shown that potential customers most often signup to WriteWork.com when they are in a hurry to get started with their writing process. And previous tests I’ve conducted on WriteWork.com have confirmed that adding a bit of urgency to the CTAs increase CTR on this particular website.
Therefore the, “Get started” part represents a tangible benefit to the potential customers (note that urgency doesn’t automatically have a positive impact).
7. 10.56% decrease in conversion by making the button bigger
Here’s another example from WriteWork.com. This is actually a follow-up experiment I conducted on the payment page right after the above-mentioned copy test.
The keen observer would have noticed that t adding the extra copy also increased the size of the button. So one might rightly hypothesize that the increase in size also had an effect on conversions going up.
In order to find out what effect the button size had, I ran a follow-up experiment with Treatment B where I increased button size but used the control copy in both variants.
I was quite surprised to find that Treatment B actually had a negative effect on conversions and reduced sales by 10.56%.
When it comes to button size, bigger isn’t automatically better…
8. 17.18% increase in conversion by adding a text link CTA to product overview pages
This example is taken from a Danish e-commerce site that sells car care products. The site features bundles consisting of a variety of different products.
The product overview pages showing the bundle packages only feature an, “Add To Basket” button. This means that potential customers are being asked to add to the product to the basket before they really know what the offer consists of.
Here adding a text link CTA with the copy, “View Bundle” increased conversion to sales by 17.18%.
Ask for the right action at the right time. It’s natural that prospects need to have a look at what the offer consists of, before they are ready to make the decision to add it to the basket.
Many websites feature super aggressive, “BUY NOW OR DIE” CTA copy by default. In most cases however, it makes sense to find out where in the decision-making process the prospect is, so you can ask for an action that’s timely rather than pushy.
9. 12.29% decrease in conversion by removing a design detail
Here’s an example from a test I recently ran on a B2B website in order to isolate the effect of a green arrow on an orange button (as well as to end a heated discussion with a very emotion-driven designer).
In this case, removing the green arrow detail from the orange button decreased conversion by 12.29%.
Small design details like a green arrow can help make your button stand out and draw your prospects’ attention to it thus increasing conversion.
10. How a variant with the CTA below the fold generated a conversion lift of 304%
So we all know the golden rule that your call-to-action should always be positioned above the fold. Well, let’s bust that myth right away with this example from a test I ran on a B2C landing page.
In this case, the variant with the CTA placed way below the fold at the bottom of a very long landing page significantly outperformed a variant with the CTA at the top of the page above the fold. The increase was 304%.
There are several other things going on in the treatment. So the whole lift can’t be ascribed entirely to moving the CTA below the fold. However, the fact remains that the treatment with the CTA way below the fold outperformed the control variant – something that simply shouldn’t be possible if you subscribe to the best practice rule that the CTA should ALWAYS be above the fold in order to convert.
Above the fold is necessarily the best position for your call-to-action. You should place your CTA where it best compliments the decision-making process of your prospects.
I’ve seen many cases where the CTA has performed well above the fold, just like I’ve seen cases similar to this one, where having the CTA below the fold has gotten the best results. My general observation, from a wide range of landing page tests, is that there is a correlation between the complexity of the product/offer and the optimal placement of the CTA.
If the product/offer is complex, and the prospect has to digest a lot of information in order to make an informed decision, positioning the CTA lower on the page generally works best.
Vice versa, if the product/offer is very simple, and the prospect hardly has to do any thinking in order to make an informed decision, positioning the CTA above the fold generally works best.