How to Design the Perfect CTA

By on June 27, 2018

A well-placed, designed and formulated call to action (CTA) is one of the most essential elements of a buyer journey funnel, despite being just a button with some text. If you have any kind of interest in marketing, or human psychology in general, you can really learn a lot by taking a look at A/B tests conducted by agencies from all over the world. The magnitude of the impact that even the most nuanced and subtle changes in the CTA’s copy or size can make may surprise you, but also teach you a lot about how our mind works.

According to some studies, 90% of the people who have read a page’s headline will also take a look at the CTA. Naturally, first you have to ensure that your CTA is prominent enough to actually end up in that 90%, but that won’t do you any good if the visitors fail to respond to it.

They are sometimes used to share resources you want to promote or to get newsletter subscribers, but since CTAs so often decide if a visitor will turn into a client, you simply cannot hope for decent conversions if you don’t take this seriously.

CTA Copy

Source: Econsultancy

Since it is usually meant to fit into a relatively small button, copy of your call to action needs to be short, and needs to convey the purpose of the button. It might seem like this leaves little room for experimentation but nothing could be further from the truth.

For instance, a simple change of text from “Start your free 30 day trial” to “Start my free 30 day trial” has resulted in a staggering 90% increase in Click Through Rates. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most common tips regarding CTA copy – make it personal.

While there are no universal rules, it’s generally advisable to make the copy as specific as you can without going into too much detail – for instance, “Read Full Essays Now” will perform much better than “Get Instant Access Now”; you should try to use impactful, strong words, with “free” of course, being the most popular one, and you should try to avoid sounding pushy, but still imply urgency.

If you are just getting started with this, one of the best ways to find inspiration is to take a look at how experts are doing it. Compose or find a list of as many reputable digital marketing agencies as you’ll have the time to examine, and have a look at their CTAs. If you really want to be professional about it, you can identify landing pages they promoted through paid advertising, and take a look at the CTAs they used there, as you can be sure that they weren’t chosen on a whim, but only after a lot of testing.


Source: Wordstream

Where you place your CTA can have a significant impact on whether it is seen, and on how good are the chances that visitors will actually click on it. For instance, even though your CTA will be more noticeable if placed above the fold, presenting the visitors with the button before they have had a chance to read through all of content on the landing page often results in lowered CTRs, despite it being more prominent there. Remember, the entire landing page is your pitch, not just the button.

Naturally, you won’t place a newsletter signup CTA in the same location where you would position a conversion-oriented call to action, but there are some general tendencies. For instance, Welcome Gates CTAs seem to be getting the best CTRs (between 10 and 15%); those positioned in various pop-ups getting between 1 and 8%, and both those in sidebars and at the end of blog post performing at a similar level by turning 0.5% to 1.5% of impressions into clicks.

Wherever you position it, remember to leave enough whitespace around it so that it is prominent enough.

Size and Shape

Source: Econsultancy

You don’t want your CTA button to be unnecessarily clunky and to disrupt the layout of the page, but you also don’t want it to remain unnoticed. You could look around online and try to find average sizes that seem to be performing well for others, but the best way to approach this is to start from a size that makes sense for you, and run a series of A/B tests examining the efficiency of slightly smaller and slightly larger versions.

When it comes to shapes it might be safest to stick to the traditional rectangular form (perhaps with curved edges, as some suggest that this draws the visitors eye to the center of the button, where your message is), but no one is preventing you from trying out your own custom shapes. If you do decide to try this, make sure that it is absolutely obvious that it is actually a clickable button, and not just a decoration.

Source: Econsultancy

Just like with other button elements, your choice of color will be guided by the context provided by the rest of the page. While there has been a lot said about the psychology of colors, and while these insights have found their application in other areas of marketing, they don’t seem to have too much of an influence in this case.

This means that you shouldn’t choose a color based on its alleged influence on our emotions, but based on the other colors used on the page. If it contrasts with its immediate environment enough and yet doesn’t seem like it is out of place on that page, you’ve made a good decision.

Of course, since a simple addition of a tiny green arrow to a yellow button has the potential to drastically change the CTR, just choosing one color is not where your job has to end as you are only limited by your creativity.

The Possibilities Are Endless

Despite the fact that a call to action only has a couple of simple elements, namely, shape, color, size, position and copy, the number of possible combinations is overwhelming, and the influence of even the smallest changes in just one the elements impressive.

That’s why the best way to approach this is to examine how others are doing it, formulate your own approach, and then test every single variable until you are sure there is no more room for improvement.   



About Larry Reed

Larry is a tech writer with DesignRush - a new digital destination to offer inspiration and overview of the current design and technology trends. Larry has several years of experience in creating content for the web, usually on topics centered around web design and development. To stay updated with Larry's latest posts, you can follow him on Twitter.

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