How to Create the Most Effective Calls-to-Action

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Alyssa Scavetta
05.10.16

There’s something really nice about the ‘learn more’ button. It’s not commanding me to do something I don’t already want to do, nor is it manipulative or off-putting; it allows me to just be me. In that tiny moment of researching and exploring, it invites me to simply ‘learn more’. How beautiful is that?

Over time, and through the intricate process of evolution, we’ve developed two well-functioning amygdalae. These little almond-shaped parts of our brain recognize patterns, forms memories, and processes emotional reactions.     

But why does this matter? According to Copyblogger, “Valid reasoning and the written word haven’t had even a fraction of the time necessary to be part of an ‘instinctive’ response in us. For this reason, we need to rely on more than “If X, then Y” reasoning and written messages to make a sale or get a signup.”

All of that to say, there’s not exactly hard-and-fast reasoning behind why certain calls-to-action might work better than others -- it’s all still pretty subjective. But the effectiveness of certain calls-to-action over others is undeniable and is a process by which we can continually define and refine our narrative until we get it right.

Narrow it down

You wouldn’t believe (okay, maybe you would) how many websites we’ve worked with that suffered from the problem of “too many cooks”, where the calls-to-action completely overwhelm the page and the user.

Let us say this loud and clear, the user does not owe you anything--ever. Heard of the phrase, “onus probandi”? Translated from Latin, it means, “burden of proof” and operates on the basic philosophy that the burden of proof rests on the party making the assertion. In web design, that party is you.

By cluttering your content with calls-to-action, you’re a) distracting the user from the actual value you provide and b) watering down your message with desperate pleas for click-throughs.

Simplify your message and limit yourself to one CTA per web page -- it’s there that you’ll start to hit that sweet spot between visits versus conversions. The messaging giant, Slack, does a great job of this right on their home page.

Cta Post

Get to the point

Save the storytelling for your copy, because your CTA will absolutely see a much higher conversion rate if you get straight to the point.

The best way to consider this is to imagine your CTA as value+relevance=conversion. According to Unbounce, they tested two versions of the same landing page with a different CTA. The first said, “Download” and the second said, “Get your FREE Converter”. The to-the-point “download” button outperformed its counterpart by a whopping 10.94 percent.  

A great real-world example of a company using this system effectively (in our opinion, anyway), is Hubspot’s CRM software landing page.

Hubspot

Want some examples of concise, but effective CTAs? Consider these to get you started:

  • Download
  • Sign up
  • Register
  • Talk to us
  • Checkout
  • Enroll now

Do some testing

Want to actually see in real-time how your CTAs are performing? Sometimes all it takes is a little A/B testing.

Unbounce ran  A/B tests for a 30-day-free-trial PPC campaign they were about to start, and found that “the only thing we did was to tweak one word in the copy – we changed the possessive determiner “You” to “My”. After running the test for three weeks, the treatment button copy, “Start my free 30-day trial” had increased CTR by 90%.”

That’s a really, really high increase in click-throughs, and could honestly make or break your campaign.

Luckily, there are many free and amazing tools out there to get you started in the right direction, including a free one from the Google gods themselves. You can even use tools like PTEngine to create a heatmap of your landing page and see where you convert and where you lose users at the highest rate.

At the end of the day, there’s no ironclad rule to creating the most effective CTA, but there are ways to test and better gauge your audience so that you can tweak your verbiage into the best format it can be. 


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