What Makes a Great CTA? 10 Examples With Test Ideas to Improve Conversion

By , October 22nd, 2012 in Conversion | 23 comments
Button CTA

Good button CTA’s often come from providing value and being highly relevant… So, do you want to cross the street or not?

If you’re looking for a quick lift in conversions on a landing page, the button copy is an excellent place to start. In fact, just tweaking a few words of the call-to-action can have a major impact on your conversion rate.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at 10 examples of call-to-action copy and critique them for conversion.

The critiques are based on the optimization principle I presented in How to Write a Call-to-Action that Converts.

Here’s a quick recap: The overall findings I’ve made from 4 years of testing call-to-action copy can be distilled into one simple optimization principle:

Value + Relevance = More Conversions

The more value and relevance you can convey via your call-to-action copy, the more conversions you are likely to get.

What constitutes value and relevance in the individual conversion scenario, depends on two factors:

  1. The prospect’s motivation for clicking the button
  2. What the prospect is going to get, when he/she clicks the button

For each of the 10 examples, the critique will involve the following 3 points:

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey value to the prospect?
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA Copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas


1. PetAmberAlert.com

Button copy: Find your lost pet now!

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey value to the prospect?
    Yes, the copy conveys the clear value that you can find your lost pet.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Yes, the motivation for visiting the site is to find a pet that has wandered off. Therefore the copy gets top score in relevance. It could have said something generic like Start Search which wouldn’t have tapped into the psychological needs of someone who has lost a pet.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    In my opinion it’s is pretty much the perfect CTA copy for this particular conversion scenario. Nevertheless, there are a few layout-related points that I’d be interested in testing. I’ve seen a few cases where capitalized letters in the CTA increased conversions, however, in most tests I’ve performed involving caps, they have had the opposite effect. So I’d split test this one against a variant without caps. Also, yellow has been used quite a bit in the design, so I’d test a green button based on the principle that the CTA would stand more out from the page.

2. Iconfinder.com

Button copy: This landing page actually has no button copy at all.

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    Since, there is no button copy there is no value whatsoever conveyed.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Again, since there is no button copy, there really isn’t much relevance conveyed. On the other hand, one might argue that the setup is well known from Google, and that the magnifying glass makes it clear that you can find an icon by clicking the button.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’d be very interested in testing the hypothesis that a variant with copy instead of the magnifying glass image would generate a lift in engagement on the page and reduce the bounce rate.

    I’d perform a A/B split with the button copy “Find Your Icon”. Experience tells me that there’s a good chance that adding relevance in the form of button copy would generate a significant lift in conversions, mainly due to the fact that there’s one specific motivation for visiting this site – finding an icon.

3. Monetate.com

Button copy: Access Now

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    The button conveys some value, as it does emphasize the aspect of getting access – it could have said e.g. SUBMIT. However, the wording Access Now creates some friction and makes it a little difficult to understand – it almost seems like half a sentence.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Not really, the copy is completely generic as it could be used on any button that relates to getting access to something. The motivation in this conversion scenario is to get a free demo version of the Monetate software – not simply to get access.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’d perform 2 different A/B tests here. First off, I’d test the effect of simply adding a “Get” in front of Access Now. It’s a tiny tweak that has significant impact on the messaging. You’ll see what I mean if you read see the two variants side by side: Get Access Now vs. Access Now


    Secondly, I’d test a variant that is more relevant to the conversion scenario at hand e.g. Get Your Free Monetate Demo.

4. VisualWebsiteOptimizer.com

Button copy: TRY IT FOR FREE

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    Yes, there’s a clear value here. You get to try out a tool that normally costs money, for free. The button copy could have said Sign Up, which doesn’t convey any value at all. On the contrary Sign Up emphasizes what you have to do – not what you’re going to get.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Not really, the copy is completely generic and could be used on any page that has to do with a free trial version. The motivation in this particular conversion scenario is to start split testing or at least to find more about split testing and how this particular tool works.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’m pretty sure the guys at VWO.com have a good reason for choosing this particular wording, and they’ve probably tested it. However, I’d be very interested in testing the effects of a more relevant variation that says something like “Start Testing for Free” or “Create Your First Test Now – It’s Free”.

5. 99designs.com

Button copy: Get started now

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    Yes, there is a clear value in being able to get started right away compared to Sign Up, Submit, Set Up Account. However, the perceived value would in all likelihood be higher if the copy were more relevant to the motivation of the prospect when he or she visits the page.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Nope, as we’ve seen before, this type of copy is generic and could be used in connection with any offer where you can get going right off the bat. The motivation here is to pitch a design project in order to find the right designer, and clicking the button gets you to a page where you can launch a design contest.

    Also, it’s not clear what I’m going to get started on, when I click the button. So, in a way, the button raises more questions than it answers.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’d test a variant that is directly relevant to the motivation of the prospect and the conversion scenario at hand. I recommend doing a split test with a clear, relevant message like “Launch A Design Contest” or “Pitch Your Design Project”.

6. Manpacks.com

Button copy: Create Your Manpack

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    I’d say yes, the button could have said Order Now or Buy Now, which focuses on the “negative” aspect of having to go through a process or part with your money. Instead, the copy here focuses on the positive aspect of what clicking the button will let you create – in this case a Manpack.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Yes, the motivation for visiting the site is to create your Manpack. Moreover, when you click the button, you go straight to creating your first Manpack.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I think the copy here is spot on, and I don’t have any suggestions that I think will increase conversions dramatically. However, I’d try experimenting with adding a little “sub-header” to the button – a second line of copy in a smaller font size.


    Here I would emphasize the fact that you get your Manpack delivered quarterly, or the fact that you can avoid wasting time shopping for daily basics. A suggestion for a second line of copy in a smaller font size could be: “Get it delivered quarterly”.

7. Syncplicity.com

Button copy: SECURE SIGNUP

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    Well, one could argue that there is value in having a secure signup process. However, my counter argument would be that it doesn’t add a tangible value to the CTA, and therefore has no place in the button.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Nope, the primary motivation for filling out the form is not to get a secure signup, the motivation is to try Syncplicity for 30 days free of charge.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’d test a variant that conveys a clear value that is more relevant to the specific conversion scenario e.g. “Try Syncplicity for 30 days” or “Get 30 Days Free Cloud Hosting”.

8. Usertesting.com

Button copy: Pricing & Sign Up – Watch visitors use your website

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    No, the main button copy does not convey value. “Pricing & Sign Up” focuses on what you have to part with, not what you’re going to get. The “sub-header” on the other hand does convey a clear value by emphasizing a feature of the service. My hypothesis is that the perceived value of clicking the button would increase if the copy mentioned user testing.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Not directly. Seeing pricing and getting to the sign up has some relevance, but that’s not what’s top of mind for potential customers. The sub header also has a form of relevance, but my hypothesis is that user testing is what’s top of mind for visitors to this particular website, and that using those words in the copy would increase relevance.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’d like to test the hypothesis that user testing is the most powerful word in this particular conversion scenario.


    So I’d try a variant like “Set Up a User Test in Minutes”. This copy also emphasizes the clear value that Usertesting.com is a super fast choice when it comes to usability services.

9. Fluidsurveys.com

Button copy: Try it for FREE today!

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    Yes, compared to copy like Submit or Sign Up, Try it for FREE today! does convey a value, and it’s nice to be able to try something free that normally has a price. However, the motivation of the prospect is not to try something free, it’s to build a survey or a form. Therefore I’d hypothesize that communicating something about building surveys or forms would increase the perceived value of clicking the button.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    This button copy scores low on relevance. The copy is generic in the sense that it could be used on pretty much any page that has to do with a free trial or demo – just like the example from Visual Website Optimizer. What’s relevant in this conversion scenario is the fact that you can build a survey for free.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    I’d test a simple variation that emphasizes the real offer here. A variant like “Build a Survey for Free” would likely get more conversions. Generally I see a lot of “Try it for Free” buttons out there. But an offer to try something for free isn’t that unique anymore. In order to make your call-to-action copy stand out and convey value in a relevant way, try to focus on what your prospect gets – not just the fact that it’s free.

10. Causevox.com

Button copy: Take a Quick Tour

  1. Value – Does the CTA copy convey clear value to the prospect?
    No. In itself, there is no value in taking a quick tour. The perceived value would in all likelihood increase if the copy focused directly on a need that a prospects for this platform would have. Right off the bat, I think the prospect needs to know more about the features of the platform, the customization options, and how you can build a fundraising site with the platform.
  2. Relevance – Is the CTA copy relevant to the conversion scenario?
    Kind of – the soft sell is a great approach, and getting a tour is relevant. But again, I’d say that copy focusing on the need to learn more about how use the platform would be more relevant.
  3. What I’d test – My recommendations and test ideas
    This one is tricky. As mentioned, the soft sell is the right approach, and Start Fundraising is too hard at this point.


    So it’d be interesting testing a variation like “See Features & Customization Options”. But again this is a really tricky call-to-action and maybe a long piece of copy like “Learn to Customize a Fundraising Site with Causevox” might work well.

– Michael Aagaard


This is a guest post, all opinions are those of the author.

Michael Lykke Aagaard is a self-employed, self-confessed split test junkie and copywriting fanatic who’s obsessed with finding out what really works in online marketing. He’s Danish and hails from the fair city of Copenhagen. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+ or check out his newly launched international blog ContentVerve.com.

Comments

  1. [...] What Makes a Great CTA? 10 Examples With Tests to Improve Conversion 1 Upvotes Discuss Flag Submitted 1 min ago Michael L. Aagaard CRO unbounce.com Comments [...]

  2. Thanks for sharing… CTA is often misunderstood and typically not mastered!

  3. Rather ironic that the User Testing site appears to have room to apply their product to their CTA as proposed here

    • Hi Dara – thanks for the comment!

      Yes, that is kind of funny ;-)

      - Michael

      • Casey Gollan says:

        It does seem like the CTA button for UserTesting.com could be improved. However, I am impressed with the other conversion-oriented aspects of their homepage.

        The arrow pointing to their CTA button is a great visual directional cue. What makes it even more powerful is the testimonial from Twitter right on the arrow. What fantastic social proof! And then you have the logo bar right under the CTA button with a lot of other recognizable customers.

        They also provide added comfort for visitors by including a line under the CTA button that says “1 year money back guarantee” which is a nice touch. And that short video demo of their software helps potential customers understand what to expect.

        It could be that the call to action button text has been tested and this is what worked well. After all, what works isn’t always the most obvious thing – that’s the beauty of testing, right?! Cheers!

  4. F. Lund says:

    Always inspiring with different takes on CTA optimization. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks for the comment!

    I’m glad you liked the post.

    - Michael

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  8. Thanks for putting this concept into words guys like me can understand. Appreciated!

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  13. yogesh says:

    Thank you Michael. This post on CTA is informative and useful. Its good to know how little details can make big and positive differences in online business.

  14. well your ideas are great to improve the conversation and i really like them nice.

  15. You actually make it appear really easy together with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be actually one thing which I think I might by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very large for me. I am having a look ahead in your subsequent post, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

  16. Joel says:

    Fantastic insights into improving CTA’s. This gave me some ideas to implement on my own site and sign-up forms, thank you Michael!

  17. I’ll right away grasp your rss feed as I can not to find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly permit me realize in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  18. Shelby says:

    Really helpful guidance throughout this CTA post. Would be very interested in an example of case study/ industry report download button text.

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