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Test Your Call to Action to Boost Conversions by 13%

by Christina Gillick

I came across an article recently called, “71 Things to A/B Test.”

While this article is an amazing resource—stuffed with great ideas for what to test—it’s a little overwhelming…

71 things?! Eck!

Where do you start?

Especially if you’re a small business, operating without a full-time conversion optimization team, or an independent blogger?

Where do you find the time and energy to set up, analyze, and implement the results of so many tests?

call to action testing can be overwhelming

The good news is, you don’ t have to do all 71 things today—or even this year—to greatly improve your conversion rates and put more profit in your pocket.

In fact, you can do just one thing this week to see a big difference.

Hubspot did it by testing their call to action. But, before I explain what they did—and how you can do it too—let’s make sure we’re all on the same page…

What is a Call to Action?

Simply put, a call to action is a phrase that asks or “calls” the audience/reader to take action right now.

I did a few searches and also found this longer definition:

call to action definition

Did you notice that the definition above says, “A commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete and ineffective”?

That’s just one reason I recommend implementing a call to action now… if you haven’t already.

Let’s look at a few examples of calls to action:

call to action example

This call-to-action example is calling the viewer to enter their email address and click, “continue.” This is commonly called, “Opting-in” or lead generation.

Here’s another call-to-action example from AAA Motor Club, where they aim to generate leads for a “free planning session”:

call to action example 2

Finally, here’s a call-to-action example as a pop-up:

call to action examples

Want more? See 21 Call to Action Examples here.

Now that we all know what a call to action looks like, let’s move on.

Hubspot’s Call to Action Test

As mentioned above, Hubspot tested their call to action and saw a 13% increase in conversions. Here’s their test:

call to action example

“HubSpot tested the shape and style of our demo CTA to see which performed better. The CTA shaped like a button (on the right) rather than the CTA that included a sprocket image (left) performed significantly better, giving us a 13% increase in conversions.”

The Effect of 13% on Your Business

To better understand the effect of a 13% increase in conversions, let’s turn to our friends at WiderFunnel.com. Get their ROI Calculator here—it’s free.

Here’s what it looks like:

call to action sample metrics 4

I encourage you to fill this out for your own business so you can see exactly what impact a 13% increase in conversion rate will have on your business.

Here is the same worksheet filled in with numbers from an example company:

call to action sample metrics 3

After you input your numbers, the worksheet advises us to go to Tab #2 to see our results. On Tab #2, we’re asked to enter our “Potential lift in customer conversion rate.” For this example, I used “13%”:

call to action sample metrics 2

Here are the results:

call to action sample metrics

See the potential of conversion optimization?

In this sample business, a 13% increase in conversion rate would add 10 sales transactions per month or $12,355.20 to their first year’s annual revenue! (Plus, the cost per sale is reduced!)

So, how can you boost your conversions by as much as 13%?

4 Steps to Running an A/B Test on Your Call to Action

After seeing the results Hubspot got, and then seeing how the numbers could work in your own business, you’re probably eager to start testing.

Here are the 4 steps to running your own “call to action A/B test.”

1. Research and analyze the data.

Before you guess what might work in a test, gather some data.

If you’re currently using a call to action, what is the conversion rate? Have you tested it in the past? Why did you choose it? Do you have any feedback or opinions on your current call to action?

If you don’t have a current call to action, why not use this opportunity to create two versions to compete for your first call to action?

To gather research without a current call to action, look at your target market profile, any analytics you do have, and even heatmaps. You could also check out industry forums, your support tickets, or interview customers to “get inside their head.”

The point of step one is to know your customer well enough that you can make “an educated guess” about what call to action may or may not work well…

2. Use your data to make a prediction.

This step could also be called, “Brainstorm.”

Basically, look at your data, think about your customer, and make a prediction about what elements might be better than what you currently have…

If you already have a call to action, your brainstorming might go something like:

You: “Our green button doesn’t seem to be working …”
Co-Owner: “I know Company ABC tested green buttons and saw a huge increase in conversions… why isn’t it working for us?”
You: Maybe because our dominant company color is green…
Co-Owner: Yeah, the button just doesn’t stand out…
You: Let’s try orange instead!”

Or, “Our customers are very concerned about their security online… maybe we should test adding a security seal to our form?”

If you don’t have a current call to action, you’ll need to create two versions. Just remember to stick to testing one element at a time. As Hubspot points out:

“You want your A/B test to be conclusive—you’re investing time in it, so you want a clear and actionable answer! The problem with testing multiple variables at once is you aren’t able to accurately determine which of the variables made the difference. So while you can say one page performed better than the other, if there are three or four variables on each, you can’t be certain as to why or if one of those variables is actually a detriment to the page, nor can you replicate the good elements on other pages. Our advice? Do a series of basic one-variable tests to iterate your way to a page you know is more effective.”

Beyond the few examples above, there are thousands of things you could test in your call to action…

  • The actual words. Just one idea: “click here” against “yes!”
  • The color. A showdown between your company color and a contrasting color could be interesting
  • The layout or location of the call to action. For instance, top right vs. top left
  • The style: “flat” graphics against “Web 2.0”
  • Even the shape of the call to action can be tested: round, square, rounded rectangle
  • The options are endless

But, we can’t test everything. So, after you spend a few minutes brainstorming, predict which SINGLE change you think has the greatest chance of increasing your conversion rate.

Then…

3. Construct your experiment.

This step will vary depending on the tools you use and the test you’re running.

At a minimum, you’ll need your A/B testing tool of choice (to run the test and read the results) and two variations of the element you’re testing.

Review this article to make sure you have the basics in place for your test.

4. Run your experiment.

Next, you’ll want to let your experiment run.

Remember, to get accurate results, you must wait until your test is complete to determine a winner. I recommend using a sample size calculator just to be sure your test results are as accurate as possible.

5. Analyze.

After your test is complete, it’s time to review the data…

Like last time, you’ll use the new data to make a new prediction to test. Hopefully your last test gave you something to work with and your next prediction is better.

If not, no worries. Conversion optimization is a never-ending game. Some would say that’s part of the fun.

Over time—as winners of your tests emerge—you’ll better understand your target customer and be able to make more refined predictions.

So what about you? Have you been testing your call to action? Any results you’d like to share?

Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Read more Crazy Egg posts by Christina Gillick.

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Christina Gillick

Christina Gillick is a direct-response copywriter. She helps her clients create loyal customers and raving fans through relationship building copy and marketing. She is also an entrepreneur and founder of ComfyEarrings – The Most Comfortable Earrings on Earth.

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