There are two key elements to marketing. The first is to drive traffic to your website and the second is to get the traffic to convert into customers. You can have a million visitors going to your website, but if you can’t convert them, what’s the point?
Over the years I’ve learned a lot about improving conversion rates. Some of my knowledge has came from hiring conversion rate consultants, or even running my own a/b tests, but most of it has come from co-founding 2 analytics companies: KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg.
One of the easiest ways you can boost your conversion rates is by optimizing your call to actions (CTAs). Here are 11 ways you can improve your CTAs:
Tactic #1: Test button copy
So what button copy should you use? Click here, buy now, add to cart, purchase now, and order now are a few call to action texts that you see around. But I’ve found that generic verbiage like the words above don’t really impact conversion rates by much. If they do, then there are other elements on your webpage that need to be tested.
And just copying other people’s tests, like how 37 Signals started using the call to action “see pricing and plans” because it boosted their conversion rate by 200%, won’t always work for you.
We tested that same call to action on Crazy Egg over a year ago and learned that it decreased over conversion rate by over 10%. But what did increase our conversion rate by over 20% was the CTA “show me my heatmap”.
Lesson learned: call to actions that are related to your product or service tend to convert better than generic call to actions. Try testing button text that is highly related to what you are offering or selling.
Tactic #2: Color matters
Gmail once tested 50 shades of blue for their call to action color and found the highest converting shade. The end result was a boost in signups. You probably won’t be able to test 50 shades of a color, but you will be able to test a few different colors.
Lesson learned: different colors have different meanings, such as red can sometimes create a sense of urgency. The main goal with your CTAs is to make sure they stand out and there is a good contrast between your button color and the color of your website design.
Tactic #3: Location, location, location
Just like with any business, location is one of the most important factors. You should test adding CTAs above the fold, below the fold and anywhere you think it makes sense.
I tried testing the call to action placement on NeilPatel.com and found that placement had a big impact on the conversion rate. I tried adding one above the fold, but it didn’t perform as well as placing it right below the fold.
Through surveying I quickly learned that people wanted to read a bit more and learn what I had to offer before seeing a call to action. For this reason having a call to action above the fold caused a decrease in conversions by 17%.
Lesson learned: don’t assume that placing your call to action higher on the page will boost your conversion rate. Make sure your visitors know what they are going to get before you present them with a call to action.
Tactic #4: Design matters
I ran an a/b test on the Quick Sprout Traffic System in which I tested the overall design of the call to action. The original call to action was just a button that said “add to cart”.
But through surveying I found that people were a bit confused on what they would get with the system. So I decided to make a quick tweak with the CTAs.
The new button also contained the text “add to cart” but it also contained an image of the product. The end result? A whopping 28% increase in conversions by modifying the button design to include an image of the product that was being bought.
Lesson learned: just because everyone else uses simple buttons that may contain a few words and round corners, it doesn’t mean you should do the same. From testing different sizes, to round corners, to even including an image of your product within your CTAs, you can boost your conversions by being creative.
Tactic #5: Timing is everything
You would think that showing a call to action button on your site would boost conversions versus not showing it right away, right? Kimberlysnyder.net recently did an a/b test in which they required you to watch a sales video before showing you a call to action button.
The video was 30 minutes long, so you would assume that it dropped their conversion rate. Especially because you couldn’t fast forward through the video or skip to the end. But because they delayed the button from appearing, it forced people to watch their video, which caused their conversions to increase by 144%.
Lesson learned: by forcing people to understand what you are selling and the benefits of it, you can increase your conversion rate. A great way to do this is to not show a user your call to action button until you get them to read what you are offering. This helps prequalify potential customers and helps get them excited on what you have to offer.
Tactic #6: Be creative
CTAs don’t have to be buttons. We recently tested something unique, in which we added a call to action button within a video on our KISSmetrics blog. Once you are done watching the video within it we show you a call to action to signup for our analytics service.
That call to action gets 380% more clicks than our normal sidebar call to action. And it drives 65% more clicks than our call to action within our Qualaroo survey.
Lesson learned: don’t assume that the standard call to action converts the best. I would have never thought that by placing a call to action within a video it would cause more clicks than a simple button.
Tactic #7: Tell people not to click
Can you change your call to action text to “don’t click here” and expect to boost your conversions? It doesn’t work for everyone, but it may work for you.
For example, on TimothySykes.com we recently tested a call to action that stated, “don’t click here if you’re lazy” and it performed 39% better than “click here”.
Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich uses a similar concept where he tells people to NOT click here.
Using reverse phycology can be an effective way to get people to do what you want. Test different variations of this tactic and try to tell people why they should click by using negative language. For example, if you run an ecommerce site, your call to action button could be “don’t click here unless you want to save 10%”.
Lesson learned: by using call to action phrases that are the opposite of what people are used to seeing, you can potentially boost your conversion rates.
Tactic #8: Special effects
Another great tactic that sites like TimothySykes.com use is that they add special effect to their CTAs. From making the call to action scroll with the user to having it wiggle to draw attention, you can do many things to boost your click throughs.
The call to action “next big pick” on TimothySykes.com has a 21% more clicks because it scrolls. The call to in the sidebar of Quick Sprout of the Michael Arrington ad gets 218% more clicks and 159% more conversions than the Ben Huh ad.
And when I tested the call to action in the Hellobar it converted 3x more when I selected the setting that made it scroll with the user versus not scrolling with users.
Lesson learned: little effects can bring more attention to your call to actions, which can cause them to get clicked more often. This doesn’t mean your conversion rates will go up, it just means they will gain more clicks.
Tactic #9: Exit call to actions
One type of call to action that isn’t used a lot is an exit call to action. I recently did this through BounceExchange on NeilPatel.com in which you only see the call to action when your mouse moves towards the back button on your web browser.
BounceExchange detects when someone is about to leave your website and it shows them an offer to try and grab their attention. The end result was a 46% increase in conversions.
At first I was a bit hesitant to try it out, but no one has complained yet and the conversions definitely make up any small complaints that I could potential receive from an exit call to action.
Lesson learned: you may feel that tactics like exit call to actions are a bit spammy, but others may not feel it is spammy. You won’t know if something works or if it bothers your visitors unless you try it out.
Tactic #10: Whitespace
A great way to make your call to action standout is to place nothing around them. Whitespace can be your friend as it can help make your button standout. You can do this through the following steps:
- Reduce elements within your web design.
- Reduce the number of bright colors in your design.
- Don’t place too many things around your CTAs.
I tried using more whitespace on my Traffic System landing page and saw a small increase in my conversion rate. The increase was 8%, but I didn’t have statistical significance. It would take 30 to 60 more days for the test to end, so I stopped it. Hopefully you will have better luck with testing this method than I did.
Lesson learned: Putting too many elements around your call to actions can be deadly to your conversion rate. Use whitespace to draw more attention to your CTAs.
Tactic #11: No call to actions
Would you dare to remove your call to actions? Tim Sykes did this with his site on his store page and found something interesting. He didn’t do this because he wanted to run an a/b test, but instead his developer didn’t finish his ecommerce store.
His products weren’t connected to a shopping cart, so he removed the call to action buttons on the page and learned that more people were interested in his products because they felt that they couldn’t buy them anymore.
By removing his CTAs and by adding an email address on his store page, he got more inquires from potential customers than what he used to get when he had CTA buttons in his ecommerce store.
Lesson learned: flooding your website with call to actions isn’t always good because it may cause people to feel that you are there only to sell them on something. When you remove your call to actions it can potentially cause a reverse effect in which people may want something they feel they can’t buy anymore.
What worked for me and the other websites above may not work for you. And what didn’t work for them may work for you. In the end you are going to have to test your call to actions if you want to find out what’s best for your user base.
The big takeaway that you should get from this blog post is that you need to constantly run a/b tests. If you don’t try to improve your conversion rates they won’t go up. Don’t be afraid to test!
What other ways can you improve your call to actions?