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The Button Call-To-Action

buttonAt a basic level, it is important that a visitor knows the consequences of clicking a button, and feels reassured that clicking will not result in any negative or unwanted consequences. It must at once inform and inspire confidence.

As calls-to-action go, button wording like “click here,” “go” and “submit” tell visitors little about what clicking accomplishes (one study found that “submit” may be the worst way of enticing a user to submit a form).

This is particularly true of a ubiquitous call-to-action button that appears on all pages of a site, where the context of the button might not provide a visitor with enough information to want to proceed.

Make it obvious what action (and benefit) a visitor can expect from a button click.

This is not to say that a button’s call-to-action should be wordy or ingenious. Twitter was observed by multiple sources to be testing different variations on their sign up button.

One can only surmise that the extremely pedestrian “Sign up” that currently is displayed on their site performed better than livelier constructions such as “Give it a try” and “Let me in.”  Sometimes the best wording for a button is the simplest.

In situations where users might fear that their personal information will be shared, their computer might be at risk or that they might incur a charge, the call-to-action button (or text in close proximity to it) should be employed to reassure visitors.

A call-to-action button for a web-based software service might inform visitors that no installation is required. The submit button for an opt-in form where an email address is required might do well to include the message “no spam!” in big friendly letters.

An A/B test conducted for a solar energy company demonstrates how both clarity and reassurance in a button call-to-action impact conversions. Their original button that encouraged a visitor to “Click for Your Solar Consultation” was both vague (what’s a “solar consulation”?) and failed to remind users that clicking did not entail a commitment. Changing this text to “Get Your No Obligation Quote Now!” resulted in a 74% boost in conversions.

Instilling a sense of urgency has also been shown to lift conversion rates. On one hand, the simple addition of words like “now” and “today” (“download now!”, “sign up today!”) can improve conversion rates without making any particular claim about the timeliness of an offer. On the other hand, specifically stating or implying that an opportunity is limited might encourage a user to click a button for fear that they’ll be missing out by not doing so.

Wider Funnel case study cites a 106% increase in bookings for a recreational vehicle company based on changing a persistent call-to-action to include a reminder that availability was limited, and changing the button text from “Go”  to “Get RV Rental Pricing and Availability Now!”

Perhaps obviously, if you’re offering something to a visitor without charge it is often beneficial to remind them that they’re getting something for free. A Visual Website Optimizer case studysaw a 28% conversion rate lift for online address book Soocial simply by adding the words “It’s free” next a button with the call-to-action “Sign up now!” And, Firefox saw a lift from 9.73% to 10.07% for downloads by changing their button copy from “Try Firefox 3″ to “Download Now – Free.”

Like almost anything having to do with button performance, there are exceptions even to the seemingly logical proposition that a call-to-action that includes “free” should outperform one that doesn’t.

Successfully instilling a sense of urgency can be incredibly nuanced as well:  membership portal site Kajabi observed a 2% lift when they changed their button text to read “Get instant access now,” but a 252% increase in conversions when this was changed to read “Get started today.”

All of this to stress the importance of testing button call-to-action copy. However, much prior experience and common sense may suggest that one call-to-action is superior to another, it’s impossible to say which of two buttons will perform better without testing.

Button Prominence & Placement

An effective button should be clearly visible on a page, and at least relatively prominent in relation to other elements.

On a landing page – and indeed for most pages, where this is feasible – a button should appear above the fold. The likelihood that a button will be clicked is greatly diminished if a visitor has to scroll to see the it.

For this reason, it is also common to see a call-to-action button placed both above the fold and at the bottom of a long page. Just a user is less likely to scroll down to click a button, they’re also less likely to go back up if they have scrolled past a button.

In a relative sense, button size matters as well. There shouldn’t be any question in a visitor’s mind of where they are meant to click. In one split test, Eric Graham reported a sizable lift in conversion rate simply by increasing the size of a opt-in button.

As size is relative, however, this does not mean that you should simply build bigger buttons, but that they should stand out from other page elements. This can also be achieved in large part by judicious use of white space:  a button surrounded by white space will be much more prominent than one which is lost in a sea of text and graphics.

placementProximity to other page elements is important as well. Obviously for an e-commerce site an “add to cart” button that’s right next to a product should perform better than one that’s further removed.

In other situations, it is important to keep a call-to-action button close to such things as value propositions, testimonials and feature lists that are intended to stimulate conversions.

Inevitably, a primary call-to-action button will be sharing real estate with other, competing buttons. The most important button should draw maximum attention to itself, though without interfering with the usability of buttons that have other functions (buttons must be in some way necessary, or they shouldn’t be appearing on the page).

Giving prominence to the most important button can be achieved by manipulating the size, color and contrast of this button.

Button Color & Contrast

contrast-buttonColor has a demonstrable influence on whether or not a user will click on a call-to-action button, but determining precisely which button color will result in the highest number of clicks is, yet again, a matter of testing.

It has sometimes been said that a red buttons (and red text links) perform best:  by changing the color of their call-to-action button from green to red, Performable increased conversions by 21%.

Rightfully, Performable did not ascribe this to any inherent value of red over green, but speculated that it could be due to the color preferences of their specific audience, or how the red stood out in contrast to their website’s green color scheme.

Using contrasting colors is certainly a key factor in making a button stand out, particularly if there are many other interactive elements on the page. So it may be that increases observed in conversion rate from changing the color of a button may have less to do with the specific button color than how this color stands out on the website.

Certainly, a red button on a website full of red buttons is unlikely to be distinguished from its neighbors, and receive any greater attention as a result of its color.

Button Behavior

add-to-cart-buttonIt should be clear to visitors that a button is really a button – something you can click on that will result in a specific action – rather than simply a graphical element on a page.

Graphically speaking, there are a number of ways to do this, including embossing the button, placing the call-to-action text in a discreet bordered area, or offsetting the button from other graphical elements.

The button must also behave like a button when a user mouses over it. If a visitor hovers over a button and the cursor does not change from a pointer to a hand symbol, then that visitor is less likely to click.

For buttons that are not hyperlinked (and so do not automatically generate a hand symbol in the mouse over state) this can readily be accomplished with CSS.

A change in the button’s appearance itself on mouse over, such as a change in color, is a further signal (if not actually a small inducement) to the visitor that the button is clickable.

A Little Button SEO

In many situations, such as buttons used for the shopping cart functions of an ecommerce site, the button itself is not a hyperlinked element, and as such has no specific association with a target URL.

In many instances, however, a button is directly linked to a page indexed by the search engines. Adding an <img> alt attribute will provide the search engines with text they will associate with the target page:  if you are targeting keywords on that target place, you should employ them in your <img> alt.

Furthermore, an <img> alt attribute (or, depending on the browser, an <a> title attribute) may be displayed to a visitor when they mouse over the button, providing yet another opportunity to reinforce or augment your call-to-action (“start your no obligation trial!”).

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  • Some website owner has a myth that they can use homepages as the landing pages of their online business. However, it doesn’t make sense practically. As said earlier websites are targeting customers in mass and don’t focus on any particular task. Instead landing pages can be optimized specifically to direct potential audience on the homepage of your website
  • Make sure that your landing page doesn’t miss out on the essential design elements like headline, sub-headline and a short description of what your website is offering.
  • The easiest is the navigation system, the longest user will stay on your landing page. Remove all the unnecessary links and navigation buttons from the landing page. Over optimized navigation or redundant navigation options, both influence visitors to switch on your competitor’s website.
  • A landing page is always designed with a specific purpose. Often the businesses have dedicated team of marketers who define the marketing strategies and goals for businesses. Know your objective and make sure your landing page design showcase your vision in the most effective manner.
  • Content relevancy is an another significant thing in the success of a landing page design. The visitors are directed to your landing pages from various sources. But, in all cases you need to make sure that the source and destination content of the link has some relevancy in them.
  • It is recommended to make use of bulleted points on the landing page as it lessen friction.
  • Don’t think that you will share some great information only after the user clicks on the download button or on a quote request button. Share the useful information up front.
  • In the quote request form, don’t ask for more and unnecessary information. The longer the form, the less chance of users taking interesting in filling it.
  • Make multiple landing pages for your website. This will help you get more leads to your website. You can also provide social media buttons on the landing pages so visitors can share your content on their social media profiles.
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1. Welcome your visitors

They came to your website for a reason, and that reason needs to be addressed pretty quickly. People don’t have a very long attention span, so it is important that you catch their interest; let them know that you understand their problem and that you can solve it for them. Make sure your message is concise and to the point without a lot of extra fluff. Otherwise, they won’t spend the time to wade through all the “wordiness” and not even find out that you can save them thousands of dollars a year or increase their business sales.

2. Make sure the page is scan-able

Readers should be able to take a few seconds to glance over your home page and have a good, general idea of what the site is about. Use headlines, use bullet points, use sub-headings and make quick points. If you choose to have a couple of paragraphs about your business and how it can help potential clients and customers, convey these ideas in short, catchy paragraphs that make them want to click on other pages; you can have more details within those pages.

3. Make site navigation simple

This is two-fold. For one, the page tabs should be easily recognizable. Most websites have tabs across the top of a webpage, and often on the sidebar on other pages within your website. The key is to keep them consistent. Use the same titles for each tab. If you call one page “About Us”, then this same title needs to be used any time you are referring to this page; don’t call it “The History of our Company” on another tab title within your site. The second thing to remember is that some people get lost on websites and are unsure of where to go from the home page. Make it easy for your readers by inviting them to “learn more about us here”, or “if you have questions, feel free to visit this page”, or “see the services we offer here”.

4. Talk directly to your reader

In using the word “you” frequently, it is as though you are speaking directly to that one person, and it seems more personal. Think about this- if a website said, “We can save our clients hundreds on insurance each month,” well, good for all those clients! But what if it said, “We save you hundreds of dollars on your insurance each month”? That sounds good to me! They are talking specifically to me! I could use an extra few hundred bucks a month.

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One of the, if not the most, successful ways of attracting a lot of visitors is through a little something called viral marketing. As viral marketing builds much upon “word of mouth” people will be much more eager to take a look at your site. A recommendation from a trusted source, with the friend/colleague/often frequented website talking about your site being the trusted source, will almost always be the best marketing tool. With this said – let’s take a look at what it really is and how you can take advantage of it.

What’s Happening Onsite?

First of all, you must give your visitors a reason to stop by your site. Depending on what your site is all about, may it be a site promoting you as a web designer or a site about dogs, the reason will vary but it can be anything from a high quality product/service, useful information or by providing something with an entertainment value.

Think about what your visitors would be interested in or what they would find valuable. Web surfers that find something they like are also probable to recommend it to people in their social network. Now, let’s take a look at some marketing techniques that can boost your site’s traffic.

Competitions And Give Aways

It’s a proven fact that people always go crazy for giveaways and competitions – I mean who wouldn’t? By featuring something like this on your site you’ll increase your chances of gathering the needed attention from new potential customers. Obviously the prize doesn’t have to be anything large, their name on a top list is often sufficient. This is also a great way for you to get a hold of emails, which is a good thing if you want to send people information about your business or special offerings – however, never get too spammy! Likewise, remember to make the competitions fairly easy to enter.

Release Your Inner Author

Pour yourself a big cup of tea and bring out the author in you. If you’re able to create something amazing content-wise then you can definitely attract attention. Even a good article will work as “link bait” which means that it will draw links from blogs and websites and hence giving you loads of new visitors. Remember, you don’t have to write the next great American novel – it can be anything from an inspiring article to a top list or a tutorial. Expert advices are also much appreciated by readers.

Let Your Site Visitors Do The Work

It’s extremely important that you make it easy for your readers to share information about your site. Always include links to the most important social networks on the web, such as and Digg. Doing so will encourage people to spread the word about you and hopefully it can create a snowballing effect.

Viral marketing is much about standing and doing things differently than the standard norm. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from others to create something unique. A bonus worth mentioning is that viral marketing doesn’t have to cost you anything at all. So, stay on the lookout for innovative ways of spreading the word about you and your site!

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Strategy #1: Parity

The parity play involves watching what your competitors do, and then either copying them or one-upping them. Parity is seductive because it’s easy and safe. And it can lead to incremental improvements. But it’s just as likely that you’re imitating an expensive tactic that didn’t work for your competitor. In either case, you can never lead your market by following the pack.

Takeaway: Don’t chase your competitors. Chase your customers.

Strategy #2: Novelty

Every business wants to be new and different, so many business leaders equate innovation with novelty. They think if they introduce something new—something that nobody else offers—they will differentiate themselves and capture attention. But what’s new isn’t necessarily valuable or better than the alternatives. In fact, few business breakthroughs are actually new:

  • Apple didn’t invent the graphical user interface, digital music player or smartphone. They vastly improved on existing products.
  • Google didn’t invent the search engine.
  • Nintendo didn’t invent the video game.

Takeaway: Newer isn’t better. Better is better.

Strategy #3: Usability

Most web initiatives cite improved usability as a business objective. While usability is a must for long-term success, it’s really just table stakes. If your websites and products aren’t useful as well as usable, then all the usability in the world won’t help you.

Takeaway: Be useful first. Then be usable.

Strategy #4: Technology

This remains the most common approach to web innovation. It involves making a list of feature ideas or technologies, and then designing your websites or products around them. Designing products based on feature lists leads to unsatisfactory experiences because those lists aren’t oriented to the perspective and needs of your customers. In fact, the majority of your customers don’t care about features and technology. They just want products that are useful to them.

Takeaway: Design your business around people, not technologies.

Strategy #5: Epiphany

The notion of an epiphany—that next big idea that will change everything for your organization and industry—is at once the most seductive and dangerous of web strategies. It’s seductive because it is glorified in the business press and in our cultural myths about how innovation happens. It’s dangerous because it is the business equivalent of the half-court shot. While epiphanies sometimes do happen, they’re too unreliable as a business strategy because they can’t be controlled.

Takeaway: Don’t bank on epiphanies. Processes that are repeatable and controllable are the most reliable sources of innovation.

The Solution: Aim to Be Remarkable

Remarkable sells. Remarkable gets and holds attention. Remarkable is memorable, unique and inspiring. Remarkable builds successful companies like Zappos and breakthrough products like the iPhone.

In fact, if you don’t aim to be remarkable, you are unlikely to achieve even adequacy after the vicissitudes and compromises of any major web initiative. Obvious you say? Perhaps, but rarely practiced because it involves taking risks.