How do you convince web visitors to become a lead and eventually a customer? Too often, marketers focus on their marketing efforts, landing pages, and sign-up forms as the three pillars of conversion optimization. And while these three factors are undoubtedly crucial to your efforts, a fourth matters just as much: the call to action button. Done wrong, few member of your audience will ever even see your sign up form. Done right, it can vault your lead generation efforts and conversion percentage to new heights.
The Call to Action Button: An Introduction
You probably know exactly what a call to action button is: an image file, on your website or included in your advertisements and email messages, that prompts your audience to - you guessed it - take action on a specific item. Buttons inherently work better than simple in-text links, drawing attention to just what it is you want your audience to do.
So much for the obvious part of this blog post. Let's delve into just how you can create call to action buttons that convince your audience and jumpstart your conversion optimization.
The Actual Call to Action
Above all, a call to action button can only be successful with the right text. Browsing around the web reveals an untold number of marketers who use standard text like "submit," "sign up" or "contact us." To stand out, you have to go beyond these vague propositions.
Just what will your audience get when signing up? Will they receive content, a free trial, subscribe to a newsletter, or get another reward? Thanks to the rule of reciprocity, your audience will be more likely to give you their contact information if they feel that they get something of equal value in return. For your call to action, that means emphasizing just what the value of clicking on the button will be for your audience.
Of course, describing the value of your offer can be difficult, and it's easy to make the mistake of getting too descriptive. That, in turn, will seriously depress your conversion rate. The text examples we gave above may be vague, but they do have one thing in common, and it's the reason why they're used so frequently: their brevity. The best calls to action are no more than 5 words, though depending on the size of your button, you may get away with "bonus text" below the actual call to action.
Within those five words, you should not only be as specific as possible, but also get personal. In fact, a recent study showed that changing the text in call to action from second person to first person increased clicks by over 90%.
The Importance of Color
Once you've narrowed down your text to a brief, specific, first-person call to action, it's time to start thinking about the color of your button. Staying within your brand's color scheme makes sense, but be sure that the button stands out against the background of your website and/or HTML email.
But within that color scheme, it pays to vary your calls to action as much as you can. As it turns out, different colors inspire different emotions within your audience, as this infographic by KissMetrics conveys perfectly. Matching the purpose of your call to action and your brand identity to the color can go a long way toward increasing your conversion rate.
Generally, red and orange are the most common and successful colors for calls to action on a white background, while neon green can work especially well against a blue background. The individual choice depends on your brand, but color is the second most important consideration of your call to action after its text.
Have You Thought About the Shape?
By far the most calls to action are rectangular, so that's probably the direction you're thinking about going. But the popular choice isn't always the best, which remains true for your call to action buttons. For example, ContentVerve achieved significantly higher conversions simply by changing the shape (and color) of its buttons from rectangular to pill-shaped.
As is the case with color, we can't recommend a simple one-size-fits-all approach to the shape of your call to action buttons. But we can tell you that just like in the previous section, a contrasting shape to your content's geometrical form will perform best and optimize your conversions.
That may sound a bit abstract, so allow us to elaborate. Most websites (and emails, and any other digital medium in which your call to action button will appear) are naturally rectangular. That, in turn, leads to two popular design choices for these media: dominance of rectangular forms to adhere to the overall format, or the emergence of round and oval alternatives in the navigation, design, etc., to counteract the limitations of a computer screen.
In the latter example, rectangular forms will generally work best. But in the former example, you may want to consider oval, round, or pill-shaped button alternatives.
Putting it all Together: The Design
After deciding on your copy, color, and shape, it's time to put it all together. When designing your call to action, the most important consideration is to avoid being too busy, depending on the button's size, supporting graphics may make sense, but only if they add to and not distract from its main purpose: to drive clicks.
Aside from that, it's difficult to pin down a single design trick that increases your conversion rate. But what you can do instead is conduct extensive A/B testing to see whether one design performs better than its alternative. Multiple A/B tests, all focused on a single variable from copy and color to shape and design, allow you to you narrow down which version of your CTA provokes the most clicks, and best helps you achieve conversion optimization.
How much thought do you put into your calls to action? If this blog post is the most consideration you've ever given this underrated subject, it may be time to rethink your conversion strategies. Call to action buttons play a crucial role in convincing your audience to become leads and customers, which is why they need all the attention you can give them.
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