Those pesky windows that block the entire screen as you browse a webpage. They’re annoying for several reasons—They interrupt your browsing session and are often difficult to close especially on mobile devices. It all leads to a frustrating experience online.
Here are some of the results from a survey that asked what users thought about pop-ups. A large majority indicated that they hated pop-ups while only a small percentage said they don’t mind them:
Google understands too that pop-ups frustrate its users and lead to a poor browsing experience. That’s why it’s taking steps to punish sites that implement intrusive pop-ups.
So does this mean you shouldn’t be using them?
Not necessarily as Google allows certain types. Pop-ups can still be effective as there are numerous case studies on their positive impact on a number of metrics. In many cases the addition of pop-ups drove more subscribers and increased conversions. Despite how a majority of online users feel about pop-ups, they are effective at driving action.
The principles that make pop-ups work can also be applied to CTAs. The difference is that they’re less intrusive and annoying to site visitors.
A CTA (call to action) is simply an image or line of text that prompts visitors to take action. Examples include making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or downloading a free trial.
CTAs are perhaps the most critical aspects of landing pages. They can mean the difference between a bounce and a conversion. Regardless of what you want visitors to do, a strong CTA means more clicks and conversions for your business.
Here we’ll look at how to drive more CTA clicks on your pages without annoying your visitors.
1. Use an Eye-Catching Colour
No clicks, no sales.
It sounds obvious but understanding this can lead to more clicks. The purpose of a CTA is to get visitors to take action. You’ll want to use an eye-catching colour so it easily stands out on your landing pages. Using the same colour as your site would blend in and be difficult for your visitors to distinguish.
It sounds like a seemingly minor detail but it can have a huge difference on conversions as seen from this example here:
Just changing the color of the “Add to Cart” button and making it more visible resulted in more sales. Here’s a good example of a CTA button that stands out from Dropbox’s Business page:
The CTA button is easily distinguished from the rest of the page, helping visitors immediately notice it. The colour to choose for your own CTA will largely depend on your colour scheme. To really determine which colour works best, you’ll want to test different variations with a control and measure the results.
2. Place Your CTA Above the Fold
Anything “above the fold” refers to the upper portion of a webpage. It’s the first thing that visitors see when a site loads. According to usability tests from the Nielsen Norman Group, users spend 80% of their time on webpages looking at content above the fold:
Your CTA then should clearly be visible and ideally above the fold. Here’s an example from Shopify which prominently displays its CTA button on the homepage:
Visitors are asked to enter their email address to get started with a free trial. Most importantly, it’s also the first thing that they see when the page loads. The CTA can still be placed below the fold or elsewhere on the page but it may not be as effective.
Experiment with different CTA placements to see what works best.
3. Use Action Oriented Copy
It’s perhaps the most commonly used copy on CTA buttons. But it doesn’t exactly compel visitors to take action and such generic labels tend to perform worse than copy that is more relevant as seen in this example here:
Even a minor change in button copy can have a significant impact on conversions. Action oriented copy that also highlights a clear benefit tend to work best as visitors have a much better idea of what they can expect before clicking through.
A major gym chain saw a huge increase in conversions by changing its CTA copy from “Get Membership” to “Find Your Gym & Get Membership”:
Both case studies illustrate how more targeted copy can generate better results. Instead of using generic labels, here are some ideas to get you started with better performing CTAs:
Just like with colour and placement, you’ll want to experiment with different copy for your buttons. Even a simple change (e.g. changing “your” to “my”) can translate to more clicks but you won’t know unless you test and measure the results.
4. Keep it Simple
Jakob Nielsen said it best: “People prefer sites that get to the point and let them get things done quickly.”
Simplicity prevails over complexity. Sites that are difficult to navigate or have designs that are cluttered only end up doing more harm than good. This is perhaps the most important principle in web design and also applies to CTA buttons.
You might think that using a unique design would perform better in terms of clicks. But one test from ContentVerve compared two buttons, a unique graphic of a bouncing arrow and another that was simply a rectangular button.
The results speak for themselves:
The simpler button outperformed the control and led to a 10.94% increase in conversions. Simple variants then with relevant copy better than gaudy ones. Even some of the most popular brands follow this principle. Here’s an example of a CTA from Netflix’s homepage:
And another from Spotify:
And you can bet that these companies have tested all variations of their CTA.
Another detail to consider is the size of your buttons. One case study from ContentVerve found that larger buttons actually led to a decrease in conversions:
The button looks unnatural and draws too much attention. One hypothesis is that prospects might feel pressured so they end up bouncing out. So stick with a standard shape for your CTA button and use a size that makes sense.
5. Make it Useful and Relevant
The key to getting more clicks from your CTA is to make it useful and relevant. If you offer a solution that addresses a problem, online users are more likely to notice. It also won’t be perceived as annoying especially if there is a clear incentive for visitors.
This can also be applied to your blog web design. One example comes from Social Media Examiner which offers a free report that visitors can download immediately by subscribing to their newsletter:
This is a great example of a CTA that benefits both parties—Visitors are given a valuable report and Social Media Examiner gets a new subscriber. Without a clear incentive, visitors might not feel as compelled to sign up for the newsletter.
So make your CTA useful and relevant to drive more clicks.
Setting Up A/B Testing
We’ve seen that even a small change can have a huge impact. Some examples include changing colours and even button copy. But you won’t know what changes led to more conversions without running some tests and analyzing the results.
This is where A/B testing comes in.
The idea is pretty straightforward: You use a tracking software that displays two versions of a landing page. You have the control and another that looks exactly the same but with a slight variation. Then you split the traffic equally to both pages and measure the conversions after enough data has been collected.
Tools such as Visual Website Optimizer help to streamline this entire process:
A/B testing software is perhaps the best way to track and measure changes you make to your CTAs. Here are ways to get the most out of your tests:
- Have a clear goal: What exactly are you measuring? You’ll want to have clear objectives first before running a new A/B test. That will allow you to determine whether your optimisation efforts are on the right track.
- Test one thing at a time: When running A/B tests, start by tracking only one thing. If you change too many elements on your landing page, you won’t know what changes led to more conversions. Once one test has been completed, test another and continue refining.
- Run tests for a set time period: Let the tests run for a set time period and compare the results afterwards. Both the control and variation pages should also receive sufficient traffic to be absolutely certain that a change had a positive impact on conversions.
- Continue optimising: You’ve run a new A/B test and the variation led to more conversions than the control. Even in this scenario, you’ll want to continue optimising and running new tests to get even better results.
You may have well designed CTAs on your landing pages but testing is the only way to know for sure whether it actually leads to results for your business. Implement the strategies described above to drive more CTA clicks and increase conversions on your landing pages.