Let Me Press Your Buttons: 6 Rules for Clickable CTA Buttons

by 3 07/25/2014

What’s the different between success and failure? Or being the “best-of-the-best” and the dreaded somewhere in the middle?

In my experience, it’s a combination of hard work and attention to detail.

In a variation of the 80/20 rule, an extra 20% effort often places you in to the hallowed ground of the super-achiever. Paying close attention to the key details is part of that extra 20%.

In this blog, I want to focus on a key detail many marketers forget… the CTA message and buttons.

call to action rulesSource: Placeit.net

What color is your button?

I’ve attended more copywriting and marketing seminars than I can remember. At this stage, 95% of the material is no longer fresh. I attend because I enjoy the material (and sometimes the location) but it’s that 5% that I learn that helps me help my clients gain a boost in conversion.

Last January, I was in New York City for an info-marketing seminar run by a couple of grizzled veterans. One of the sessions focused on conversion gains.

With about 10 minutes to go, one of the speakers said, “Oh and I almost forgot … we tested the background color of the CTA button and a light orange works best for us.”

News to me.

Are you paying close attention to your call to action (CTA) buttons? Are you testing the copy?

You might not enjoy a 325% increase in conversion from testing your CTA buttons. But with some simple testing, you can expect a 10% to 15% increase… perhaps more.

So in this blog, let’s take a deep look at those CTA buttons so you can gain some ideas and start testing.

Let’s start by taking a look at the big marketers

Remember, we focus on these big marketers because we know they:

  • Have the huge traffic
  • Test like crazy

Here’s a page from L.L.Bean.

cta 1

Here’s REI.

cta 2

And here’s Amazon.

cta 3

We can already see a thread. We see an orange/burnt orange as the background with white type. We also see some type of graphic—a finger, small arrow, or shopping cart. We also see clear instructions to the customer:

  • Buy now with 1-click
  • Add to cart
  • Add to bag

These brands have clearly tested the magic color. Plus they’re following one of the most important rules of direct response copywriting: tell the reader/buyer what you want them to do.

Now let’s dive a little deeper and get into the all-important transaction pages.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road…

You have to persuade people to buy. That’s why it’s important to optimize the message on your CTA buttons.

From deep in Maine.

cta 4

And from Amazon.

cta 5

Do you see the pattern?

A first step to improving your conversion would be an inventory of your CTA buttons. Ask yourself these key questions.

  • Are you using a version of the same color as these behemoths of Internet marketing?
  • Are you telling the reader what you want them to do?
  • Where are you putting the CTA button?

Even the position of the CTA button can impact conversion. And you’ll notice the same approximate positioning on the pages above: typically somewhere on the right hand side of the page.

Why the right hand side of the page? Numerous studies have shown that people who read English and other romance languages read… get this… from left to right.

On the mega-sites above, you’ll notice simple, but direct, copy. “Add to cart.” “Place your order.”

Let’s take a look at a couple of CTA examples with more exotic copy.

I love the options this page presents.

cta 6

Get Free Strategies or find out how to work with us. In other words, you’re going to contact us… or you’re going to contact us. Take a small step… or a big step.

The copy on this page is fine, and the CTA button stands out with a contrasting color.

cta 7

But I would write something more exciting. Perhaps…

  • Yes! Show Me How to Lose Weight!
  • Click Here Now to Lose Weight!
  • Click Here for a Slimmer You!

On the big Internet marketing sites where the company is selling everything from backpacks to bananas, the CTA buttons has to be generic. However, when you’re selling just one product, and thus one big promise, you can be much, much more specific.

This conference takes place in the fall so you can get a discount for signing up. The CTA is currently built around the early bird discount.

cta 8

Notice that the button does adhere to the burnt-orange-family rule. But here I question the strength of that decision. How easy is it to see the call to action? In this case, a contrasting color would have probably worked better.

Don’t follow rules because they work for other brands. Test them on your own site to know what work for your site and your audience.

6 rules for CTA buttons

Let’s go through some simple steps you can take to optimize your CTA buttons and copy.

  1. Imitate the big digital marketers.
  2. Test your CTA color buttons.
  3. Test the position.
  4. Test the size of the button.
  5. Test graphics in and around the button.
  6. Test new copy. If you have a sprawling site, you may need something generic. If you have a single product or service, be more specific with the CTA.

Finally, here’s some CTA button swipe to fuel your CTA button testing.

17 CTAs to swipe

Click here now for the free evaluation.

Click here to start your service NOW.

Click to set up an appointment.

Yes! I want the free sample!

Say YES to fresh breath.

Make the right decision for your future.

Reply now!

Send your contribution here.

Click here and you’ll receive the information.

Yes! I want to be the first to experience _______!

To reserve your spot, click here now.

Click now for instant service.

Give me the product!

I want you to call me.

Click here for the free catalog.

Join here!

Make your decision now.

In general, I’m firmly in the camp which says, “only really poor copywriters use exclamation marks.” I avoid them (exclamation marks … not copywriters).

Many copywriters use exclamation marks way too much!!!! However, they can be fine in the CTA button. Again… test away.

When I see a company that’s clearly working hard on their CTA buttons, I know they’re serious about testing. I also know they’re serious about finding incremental ways to improve conversion and become elite-level marketers.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Scott Martin.

About 

Scott Martin is a direct response copywriter based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has also written or edited 18 books including The Book of Caddyshack: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Greatest Movie Ever Made. Scott provides free resources for marketers including direct response checklists.

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3 COMMENTS

Emmanuel

Hi Scott,

There is no doubt all those big brands like the likes of Amazon and REI all had similar call to action and I do love it the most when as your first you made it clear to imitate these big brands.
If these brands are imitating each other and receiving those needed conversions, what makes us different?
This is was a great piece Martin.
Thanks for this and don’t forget I found this post shared on kingged.com

July 29, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Emmanuel, great points and you pose a great question. I think that’s an open ended question that definitely requires some thought :)

    July 29, 2014 Reply

Scott Martin

Thanks, Emmanuel, and it’s a good question. You have to follow what’s worked before while being original enough to stand out. That’s the ultimate creative challenge. It’s where a strong USP comes in.

July 29, 2014 Reply


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