February 29, 2016 / Uncategorized


How To Optimize Your Call to Action
By Geary LSF


In this installment of Do You Know CRO? we’ll be tackling the double-edged sword known as the Call to Action (CTA). This is part two of a four-part series that Geary LSF is sharing in response to frequent requests regarding conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practices.

[If you missed part one of the series where we defined CRO in today’s marketplace and addressed the first of four CRO pillars: Path to Conversion you can catch up by reading it here.]

So about this “double-edged sword” business…

Why such an ominous description? Quite simply because your CTA can either make or break your success when it comes to converting visitors into leads, subscribers, users and consumers. It is, after all, the “ask” and (most often) the entire point of driving people to your page in the first place!

Note: Your CTA is only as good as your offer, so if you haven’t yet put the time into ensuring that yours is relevant, consumer-centric, differentiating and urgent then you’ll want to start there to give yourself the best fighting chance at rising above the collective CTA noise.

Assuming your mastery of forming a compelling offer – let’s jump into practices that can make your call to action stand up, stand out & deliver on your desire for improved conversion rates.

CTA Best Practices (2016)

Is it important to timestamp this list? You bet! The face of omni-channel marketing is changing daily and it’s vital that all phases are “In the now” – this is especially true of your call to action.

In part one of this series, we referenced heat mapping studies that show using images that “look” at your CTA are more effective at drawing the visitor’s eyes to your invitation (Versus an image that looks at the user or in an indifferent direction). We showed an example of a baby image and Roger Dooley writes about that very example here.

Building on that, here’s a quick checklist of best practice tips for creating more compelling CTA’s:

  • Buttons – not text
    • If you’re still making visitors read hypertext links – the 80’s wants its website back. Stop it.
  • Right location
    • In the U.S. we read top to bottom, left to right. Placing the CTA to the right of text provides an actionable conclusion to the story.
  • White space
    • Give your CTA some space to stand out. White space = no other content crowding it …it doesn’t literally have to be the color white. 🙂
  • First person
    • Use “Start my trial” vs “Start your trial”, etc.
    • Creates mental ownership = higher conversion
  • Get – not give up
    • Use action words that express what they’ll get rather than what they have to give up – it shouldn’t feel like it costs them something if it doesn’t. (I.E.: What’s in it for them?)
    • Example: “Free,” or “Bonus,” vs “Buy,”or “Enroll.”
  • Click triggers
    • Use subtext below the button to clarify and reinforce value.
    • Example: A “Start My Free Trial” button with: “(30 day free trial, no contract, no catch.)” subtext.
  • Contrasting color
    • The CTA button color should stand out from the other on-page colors used and should never be the same color as your background.
    • Reserve the boldest color in your brand color pallet for the CTA.The key is that it stands out – and it’s best if the color isn’t used anywhere else on the page …If either green or orange are already part of your brand pallet – score one for you!
    • *Yes, data shows that green and orange have traditionally stood out as the best converting colors – but they can make a beautifully branded page very ugly, very quickly.

Additional CTA points to ponder…

  • For package/subscription offerings, increase perceived value by demonstrating how much more they’ll receive above the asking.
  • Always create a sense of urgency, but do it in a way that’s true to your brand’s voice.
  • *There’s no need to shout or go ”late night infomercial” on them if you don’t normally communicate that way – and especially if that style doesn’t resonate with your target persona.
  • Keep it simple (if multiple choice) – like the “Good, Better, Best” approach as an example.
  • E-Commerce will always require ongoing A/B and multivariate testing to determine and amplify clear CTA winners.

Now before we wrap up this installment, you may have noticed we left “Above the Fold” off this list.

While some may still consider this sacrilegious, the truth is that for years, studies have shown that higher conversions are commonly achieved with the CTA located below the fold – that is, of course, after establishing rapport and value above it. Here’s a great article from KissMetrics on that topic.

Bottom line: You should make a compelling case from the top of your page all the way to the bottom. It’s the trust and value that you establish in your storytelling that will inspire them to look for your CTA button.

If you’re someone who finds the thought of an initially hidden CTA button to be grounds for chronic insomnia, then to avoid sleep deprivation you might consider inserting appropriately and intuitively placed CTAs throughout a scrolling page journey.

Visitors will scroll if you give them reason to – and the more they scroll, the more likely they are to engage.


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