5 Ways to Improve The Call to Action Buttons You Use



This article was originally published on


Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!

One of the most basic seeming yet intensely debated points on any marketer/web developer’s list on conversion rate optimization and click through rate improvement agendas is the call to action button. Call to action buttons remain a centre point of the optimization debate and can make or break any landing page or advertising communication design. When it comes to earning that all important click, here are a few basics you should be playing around with:

1. Color

Ok so let’s start with the obvious and immediate debate, color. All call to action buttons should be neon green right? Well no, that would just be a little too simple. The most commonly reported successful color variations for call to actions buttons are indeed green but also orange. Now, that’s not to say that you only have the choice of these two. The reason orange or green are typically chosen, is down to contrast. With the common color palettes used on website designs around the globe, these two colors are the most likely to contrast with the rest of a given page or email template design, thus making them stand out as a clickable eye catching element.

When considering color choice for buttons think about where in your design they feature and what color will provide sufficient contrast to allow them to be immediately noticeable. The old fashioned squint test is a good tool to use here.

2. Stay Above the Fold and Independent

Call to action buttons need to be visible immediately when you arrive at the page or email that contains them. There should be no scrolling or windows to close prior to being exposed to them. Don’t force your users to read through reams of text and narrative before presenting them with an action, many users will skip right through to the meat and just get it done. Another surprisingly common design flaw we see time and time again.

It’s also important to keep your main call to action buttons independently positioned on your page, email or ad. Ensure any navigation bars or other clickable elements are at a distance so that your call to action buttons truly stand out, making them as obvious as possible. Ideally keep these pages free from other clutter and distractions.

3. Enticing Text for call to action buttons

Seems like this should be a no brainer but many sites still use very basic call to action text on their buttons. “Sign Up” or “Click Here”. These have their place but it is worth trying to mix things up and be a little more enticing with your choice of wording. A really simple addition to anything, so long as it’s true of course, is simply to add the word “free”. Even if elsewhere on your page or email you’ve mentioned this, there is no harm reinforcing it on the call to action button itself just to hammer home the positive effect it brings.

4. Accompanying call to action text

A clever way to add to a call to action button without creating a button that’s the length of the page and 50 characters long, is to add some accompanying text, reinforcing your message or adding some vital last second reassurance to the user’s click.

For example, when your call to action begins some kind of sign up process or similar, a little note to say “It only takes 5 minutes” can dispel any illusions that the user won’t have time to complete the call to action fully right now. Another winner is to reinforce that the action does not require any form of payment or financial information to be taken, further reassuring that clicking and progressing is not going to come at a cost and you don’t need to have your wallet on you to proceed.

5. Test, Test, Test!

The only way to be sure you’re making progress is to test different methods. Look at all the elements in play. Position of the call to action button on the page, it’s color, it’s shape, it’s size, accompanying text etc.

Our key tip when it comes to testing is to make micro changes and assess the results. If you change more than one element of your call to action button e.g. the color and the text on a button at the same time you are introducing uncertainty. You don’t know if the color or the text adaptions, or both, caused the resulting changes in click rates. Change one element at a time to be sure you’re making progress or if you have the knowledge and resources, employ a multi variant testing approach to test multiple edits in isolated control groups.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Learn More

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here