Click Here: 11 Ways to Improve Your Calls to Action

cta

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 came from hiring conversion rate consultants or even running my own A/B tests, but most of it has come from co-founding two analytics companies: KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg.

One of the easiest ways you can boost your conversion rates is by optimizing your calls-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. I’ve found that generic phrasing, 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.

Copying other people’s tests, e.g, 37 Signals’ call-to-action “see pricing and plans” because it boosted their conversion rate by 200%, won’t always work for you.

pricing plans

We tested that same call-to-action on Crazy Egg over a year ago and learned that it decreased our conversion rate by over 10%. But what did increase our conversion rate by over 20% was the CTA “show me my heatmap”.

Lesson learned: calls to action that are related to your product or service tend to convert better than generic calls to action. 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.

SAP found that the color orange boosted their conversion rate by over 32.5%. Performable found that the color red boosted their conversion rate by 21%.

red button

Lesson learned: different colors have different meanings. For instance, red can sometimes create a sense of urgency. The main goal with your CTAs is to make sure they stand out. You can accomplish it by creating a strong contrast between the color of your button and 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 else you think makes sense.

I tested 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.

neil patel cta

Through surveying I quickly realized that people wanted to read a bit more to 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 getting 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 to test the overall design of the call to action. The original call to action was just a button that said “add to cart”.

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.

cart

The new button also contained the text “add to cartâ€, but it also contained an image of the product. The end result? A whopping 28% increase in conversions as a result of 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 using 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.

delayed cta

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 increased their conversions 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 users your call-to-action button until you get them to read what you are offering. This helps pre-qualify potential customers and 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. 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 signup for our analytics service.

km video

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 placing a call to action within a video 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, telling people to NOT click here.

dont click

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.

next big pick

The call to action “next big pick” on TimothySykes.com has 21% more clicks because it scrolls. The call to action in the sidebar of Quick Sprout of the Michael Arrington ad gets 218% more clicks and 159% more conversions than the Ben Huh ad.

When I tested the call to action in the Hellobar, it converted 3x higher when I chose the “scroll with the user” option than the optionp of not scrolling with users.

Lesson learned: little effects can bring more attention to your calls to actions, which can cause them to get clicked more often. This doesn’t mean your conversion rates will go up; it just means you will gain more clicks.

Tactic #9: Exit calls to action

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, where 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 to grab their attention. The end result was a 46% increase in conversions.

bounceexchange

At first, I was a bit hesitant to try it out. Luckily, 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 calls to action 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 stand out is to place nothing around them. Whitespace can be your friend as it can help make your button stand out. You can do this through the following steps:

  • Reduce the number of elements within your web design.
  • Reduce the number of bright colors in your design.
  • Don’t place too many things around your CTAs.

whitespace

I tried using more white space 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. Perhaps you will have better luck with testing this method than I did.

Lesson learned: Putting too many elements around your calls to action can be deadly to your conversion rate. Use white space to draw more attention to your CTAs.

Tactic #11: No call to actions

Would you dare to remove your calls 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. It happened because 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.

out of stock

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 your only goal is to sell them something. Removing your calls to action can potentially have a reverse effect on people who may want something they feel they can’t have.

Conclusion

What worked for me and other websites above may not work for you. And what didn’t work for them may work for you. In the end, you will have to test your calls to action if you want to find out what’s best for your user base.

The big takeaway from this blog post is that you need to run A/B tests constantly. If you don’t try to improve your conversion rates, they won’t go up. Don’t be afraid to test!

In what other ways can you improve your calls to action?

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Comments

  1. Great post Neil with a lot of great info! Thanks as always!

    You mentioned design is important, do you mind sharing who you use to design your ads, opt-in forms or landing pages?

    Thanks in advance.

    Brodie

  2. Great tips! I never thought about split testing my call to action buttons. I will certainly give it a go!

  3. Very Good Tips @Neil, Thanks.

  4. Not having a sufficient way to measure your results is one of the main reasons most websites fail to deliver. Providing content like this will definitely help website owners.

    Great post Neil.

  5. Great post Neil, thanks for the tips.

    I think this is an area often neglected by marketers, which is a shame when the potential returns are so good.

    I have been getting into split testing a lot more lately, so I am going to be trying a few of these in due course.

  6. hi neil, these are the best tips to increase Call to actions and in all tips i really like “Tell people not to click” this gives higher click compare to “click here” i experienced it in my site for feedburner subscribers. i got much more compare to previous banner. thanks for these best tips.

  7. Very informative.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Do you remember…

    A few years ago a blogger did an A/B test on his website that tested his social media follow buttons for either twitter or facebook (I can’t remember)

    Results (Not exact, but you get the idea)
    1. Just the Icons had about a 3% CTR
    2. “Follow me on Twitter/Facebook” had about a 6% CTR
    3. “Click here to follow me on Twitter/Facebook” had like a 10% CTR

    That being said, it seems like using the words “Click Here” is very effective, even though it may seem like an outdated phrase from the late 90’s.

    Thoughts?

  9. Excellent advice Neil, and perfect timing as I soon plan to start marketing an ebook I recently finished :) Thanks again!

  10. Great post. I have honestly never thought of removing the call to action from a page. I guess it would depend greatly on their intent once they reached the page.

  11. Hi Neil,

    Informative indeed!

    I liked all your points but the one which really goes well with me is :one need to be creative enough to keep on doing the things using hit and trials and prepare well based on that.

    How does nocall to action has really helped the company, I couldn’t make out from the post because they could have lost the potential business. It is really detrimental to the business.

    Thanks for this great share Neal, keep rocking.

    Sapan

  12. Nice tactics. Telling people not to click on buttons works well for sure! Of course its not recommended to use everywhere as its for experiments purpose only.

  13. Good post Neil but how do you know if your visitors are bothered by exit pops? They leave so its not likely you’ll ever find out, right?

    Thanks

  14. Very interesting as always, thanks for sharing Neil.

    One thing I’ve been wondering is whether you use a plugin for the ad you place on this blog that stays in position as the page scrolls down (the green one with Michael Arrington of Techcrunch)… if so, could you let me know what it is?

    It’s a great idea to keep this in view on long posts :-)

    Cheers.

    Tim

  15. Ha, excellent tips Neil! I need to practice my call to actions – they are non existent now :/

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Great post! I’m currently doing a lot of A/B testing to see which forms convert better, colors, places and more.

    It’s really interesting, and it gets even more when you have a lot of traffic to test.

  17. Great post Neil! Would really love to try a couple of these. It really matters about testing. What worked best for others doesn’t always mean will work for best for everyone.

    Seth Godin calls these buttons “bananas” and users are “the monkeys”. The goal is for the monkey to find the banana in less than 3 seconds (before they give up and leave).

    “Force yourself to design each and every page with one and only one primary objective. That’s the banana. Make it big. Make it blue (or red). Make it obvious.” – Seth Godin

    What about making it bigger than all other buttons? Making it obvious? Giving users as much area as possible to click on.

    On other thought what do you think about including “No credit card required” to boost CTA? Why do you require users’ Credit Card information for a free trial sign up?

  18. Thanks for the great post!

    Do you have any other solutions you would recommend other than Bounce Exchange (a little more reasonable for starting out) for that exit pop up?

    Thanks again.

  19. Great tactics Neil!

    In terms of UI, when I’m designing CTA area/button the main thing I’m trying to make is more white space for a better focus.

    I’ll keep in mind all the other tactics you’ve shared here for my next landing page ;)

    Thanks!

  20. Another great article Neil! I’m redesigning our website and this will help a lot!

    Thanks

  21. Neil, do you think it’s a good idea to start A/B testing from day 1? I feel like paying for an A/B test service like optimizely doesn’t make sense if my site is only getting 10-20 visitors a day because I’ll have to pay for the service for months before I get statistical significance…if I even do.

  22. The color, the position and the message they are based on CTA. Very good article.

  23. Hi Neil,
    You mentioned testing BounceExchange and ended up with 46% increase in conversions.May I ask you why are you not using it anymore if it worked so well.
    Thank you for the great article = another great lesson.

  24. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the great post!
    I found Tactic #1 #5 #7 #11 very interesting.

  25. Great points Neil..just goes to show one shouldn’t always assume what seems obvious to use doesn’t necessarily work for your own website. Care to share how you split tested or a recommendation.

  26. Hey neil,
    That was a nice post. Thanks for that
    Is there any A/B test method for measuring the same using google analytics.

  27. On my web store, add to cart buttons are part of the template used. As it’s a hosted subscription there is nothing I can do to change CTA buttons… Any suggestions?

  28. Nice work. I will try out some Google Analytics A/B testing and see how I go. Another informative Neil Patel blog post :)

  29. Niel,

    This was really a good posts, throwing light on website design essentials to improve conversions.

    Thanks for such an insider.

  30. Great post Neil, did you use a third party service for #6? I’m curious as to how you added that hyperlink/CTA button to your video. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

  31. very very informative after reading this blog post I need to take my web designer class for better call to actions. Yes, I tried lot to make helpful but not like this. I am following you on yours FACEBOOK WALL as well @Neil Patel :) :)

  32. It is really funny that @bestseo do comments on the blog of SUPER SEO @Neil patel ;) ;)

  33. Thanks, Neil! Something to put on my stick-it board. You are full of creative and priceless ideas. Incredible! You’re a find!

  34. that should be ‘calls to action’, surely?

  35. These are pretty good recommendations. I’ve done a ton of CRO myself. I can tell you this, if you can play to the users emotions you’ll increase the rate every time. Put yourself in the mindset of the users and think where there pain points are as well as their opportunities. What problem are they trying to solve with your product and at that point in time, do they simply want to learn more or buy and get the heck out of your site. The time to purchase report in analytics can give you a little insight into this, base on the type of traffic the landing page is build for. – @johnelincoln

  36. Great info…I’ve now got some great ideas to try on my landing pages!

  37. Excellent tips Neil thanks for sharing,

    Any type of logic that could be added to a CTA in my opinion is an awesome enhancement.

    The what would seth godin do plugin is an example where it shows one message for new visitors only.

    This could be taken to the next level using popups, etc.

    I like Tim Sykes example the best i think he should use that trick periodically and build scarcity, stock dudes know all about that.

  38. Playing with user emotions i think it works…as you do with us ..Am i right Neil Ji.

  39. Custom Button Co :

    Good read even got me to post. We will try a few of these on our micro custom button sites.

  40. Neil,

    Your ‘Don’t Call for Action’ reminded me of the book ‘Break your selling rules’. The salesperson got his photocopier sale by discouraging the store owner that his shop doesn’t have the location and the traffic for the product!! The owner felt offended and asked for the product!!

    Well, you can’t do this often but it is worth a try, when everything else fails!!

    Thanks for sharing

    Badri

  41. I am curious about one thing can you tell me how much ctr your hellobar generates?

  42. Thank you on the great tips. I have introduced some of them, but need to work in introducing the ones relevant to my business.

    Great post.

  43. Great Post as usual Neil,
    I have found out colors do aid conversion especially bright and attractive colors. I love all the tips you shared here, thumbs up for the work done.

  44. This post is looks great for my new website, i am going to try some of the tips of CTA.

  45. Thank You Neil………….

  46. Great article Neil… Thanx for the info, I’m going to use these tips on my money-making-online site, right away!

  47. Really interesting article. Taking notes in preparation for discussion on website re-design.

  48. Awesome article! Thanks for taking the time to provide us with this material. I look forward to testing some of these methods myself.

  49. Very clever ideas here. The reverse psychology tactic is one of the most effective I’ve tried.

  50. Great info here Neil! I believe the big take away for me is that every situation is unique – don’t copy what the mass does. Continuous A/B testing based on your products services is best. Thanks for sharing this info. Valuable!

  51. I need to make some landing pages to test these techniques on. I always put off making landing pages for some reason.

    Can never get my head around the content for them!

  52. Time and again, you deliver the goods, Neil. This post is no exception.

    I’m right at the ‘fish crawling out of the ocean’ stage of marketing, with my own product in development while I manage social media and all the content for a not dissimilar product and try to get a few affiliate sales for it via my site, to boot.

    Having little success driving traffic to my site and its blog through social media, I’m building up to my first shot at landing pages – the content in this post will be super-useful to that end, I’m sure.

    I’ve literally just discovered Tweetdeck and am at the listening/engaging stage, with some encouraging early successes – as you point out, all the engagement in the world means nothing, though, if you can’t convert.

    It’s time to start implementing some of your advice and not just reading it. Ooh, it’s scary, innit? Thanks again, bud. Great post.

  53. I couldn’t think of more ways.. thank… very helpful and gives much understanding of what a call to action should really be!!

  54. Yes this Good post Neil,
    11 Ways to Improve Your Call to Actions yes it is good article it sharing lot of information about elements to marketing. Yes Neil but You can have a million visitors going to your website ok good expiation about Improve Your Call to Actions

  55. Great article Niel! While a pretty call-to-action will certainly draw the attention of the eye on your website. t is the written copy that accompanies the graphic that will ultimately determine if a visitor clicks through. To make it even more challenging, you don’t have much time or room, so your content needs to be brief yet powerful.

  56. I am small time website owner with not much expenditure. These tests are little bit difficult for me as I don’t know coding and designing pages. Is there any alternative?

  57. This is really helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  58. Neil, thanks for the great post. would be ok to use hello bar and CAB too close to each other?

  59. Good info Neil! I will be starting as an In-House SEO in about a week. It will be interesting to see SEO at work at the enterprise level. I keep your tips in mind when I start.

    Thanks!

  60. Hey Neil,

    I’m still building my website by starting off with blog articles. Getting to read your tips excites me and drives me to prepare for what is to come. Thanks for your valuable techniques! I hope to share my success with you soon! :)

  61. Great advise, test, test, test… If a client has a website with a lot of pages already but no email capture yet, what is the best way to start capturing visitor emails? Add a bunch of sign up forms to every page? A pop over sign up, that pops over the page that is the same no matter what page they come in on? Some other quick start?

  62. I think that probably the best strategy would be to remove the call to action button only after you have established a reputation and the possible buyers can see that you products are worthy. Having call to action removed when launching a product may not be so efficient…

  63. Hey,

    Thanks for giving us the idea of split testing my call to action buttons.

    Regards,
    Jannie Taylor

  64. Hello Neil !
    This is one of the creative piece of your posts. Well, that’s totally different idea that tell your customer not to click. Its quite attractive technique. And the idea of white space is also creative one. I really liked these tips.
    Thanks.
    Dalton

  65. Neil, Your blog is awesome :)

  66. Another great post Neil! Love how quick sprout is a hub for everything in one place. Saves me having to search through hundreds of sites for snippets of information.

    Very quickly, I would appreciate if could you advise me on my CTA scenario?

    I know I should only have one CTA, however I have two that are both equally as important in my eyes.

    One is a Join Us Now CTA and the other Contact Us. Now not many people will buy online without first speaking to a member of my staff and that’s why the Contact Us is so important, however if they join right away then that’s obviously ideal. The two buttons are currently positioned next to each other, side by side and neither one or the other is more prominent. Both are fairly big buttons with a contrasting colour and utilise white space.

    Should I drop one? Should I make one more prominent? Should I leave both as they are and test alternatives? Should I have a single button that says something like Get Started which will take them to a page that gives them an option to contact or join up right away?

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Ben

  67. Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing
    several weeks of hard work due to no backup.
    Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

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