July 20, 2021

How to create great CTAs using A/B testing

A vector image that illustrates A/B testing.

If you’ve delved into Landing Page Optimization (LPO), chances are you’ve pondered over your Call to Action (CTA) buttons. Even if you haven’t, you’ve likely given them their due time. CTAs are your literal calls to action, and thus serve as your final conversion step. That’s what all your marketing, social media, and link-building efforts aim to push audiences to do. Where great CTAs can do them justice, underperforming CTAs can severely devalue your efforts. So, how can you fine-tune them for better conversion rates? Simply, by testing their relevant attributes one by one. In other words, you may create great CTAs using A/B testing – and here is how.

What are CTAs?

But before we explore the main subject, let us briefly define those two terms, starting with CTAs.

In brief, CTAs are buttons on landing pages that encourage visitors to take the desired action. Examples may include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Downloading a free copy of a report
  • Purchasing a product or service

Conversions and conversion rates

In turn, effective CTAS are invaluable to have a greater number of conversions on your landing pages. As CTAs are direct calls to action, they are at the forefront of LPO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Put differently, they are the final arbiter of whether a visitor converts or leaves.

That said, there are different types of conversions, and each calls for a different approach to CTAs. Specifically, Google Analytics identifies two distinct conversion types:

  1. Micro conversions. These are conversions that push the visitor further into your sales funnel, such as newsletter signups.
  2. Macro conversions. Instead, these are completed transactions.

Then, it identifies four distinct conversion groups:

  1. Acquisition.
  2. Inquiry.
  3. Engagement.
  4. Revenue.

Among the four, only “revenue” refers to macro conversions. The other three are likely earlier in your sales funnel, so they will require different CTA styles and copy.

What is A/B testing?

Now, to create great CTAs using A/B testing, we’ll also need to define A/B testing equally briefly. A/B testing, as the name implies, is the process of testing two variations of a page against each other. Typically, the process relies on modifying a single page element, and then directing traffic to both the original (A) and the modified version (B).

Understandably, A/B testing can’t succeed on a hunch. Instead, it typically requires such assets as CRM software and heat maps to inform which elements are modified and how.

Finally, A/B testing is one of 3 types of page testing:

  • A/B testing
  • Split testing
  • Multivariate testing

Granted, “A/B testing” and “split testing” see interchangeable use, but many do distinguish the two.

How to create great CTAs using A/B testing

With the above in mind, we may now discuss our main subject. To do so, we’ll need to split it in two; the process itself, and the CTA modifications.

The A/B testing process

First and foremost, the process itself is crucial. Indiscriminately testing CTA elements, or testing many elements at once, will very rarely yield reliable results. Instead, you may take a more calculated, focused approach.

#1 Decide on your elements

Initially, you should decide which specific elements you will test. CTA elements to consider are:

  • Color
  • Font
  • Copy
  • Style
  • Placement
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Timers

With this many factors, you should understandably begin with a data-driven hypothesis. Thus, you may use CRM, heat maps, and any other analytics tools at your disposal to inform your choice.

#2 Create multiple variants

Then, you may test your hypotheses in action. To do so, you will need to create multiple “B” variations and test them individually against your “A”. Luckily, the digital age offers heat maps, so you may consider the following metrics they can provide:

  • How many visitors see your CTAs? Scroll maps will reveal how many visitors scroll to your CTAs.
  • How many visitors identify your CTAs and react to them? Move maps will provide these insights.
  • Do enough visitors click on your CTAs? Click and touch maps will reveal how many clicks and taps your CTAs get.

#3 Monitor your results

Finally, you should take the time to properly analyze your tests’ findings. As you do, ensure you build the framework for more, and more conclusive tests. For this step, consider the following:

  • Ensure you have a decent sample size to draw conclusions from.
  • Let your tests run for long enough to ensure accuracy.
  • Identify which specific elements led to success or failure each time, and use them for further tests.

The CTAs

The process aside, creating great CTAs using A/B testing also hinges on CTAs themselves. While exact modifications should absolutely rely on your own analytics and tests, there are a few set practices to consider. In no particular order, these are the following.

#1 Refine your copy to encourage action

The very purpose of a CTA is to inspire action, so your copy must reflect this. Thus, lead with imperative verbs; “sign up”, “get this”, and “click here” are CTA staples for a reason.

At the same time, visitors must know exactly what they’re getting out of it. To do so, make your proposal clear; frame your CTA with clear information so that visitors know what you’re offering.

#2 Keep it simple

However, clarity comes from simplicity; long CTAs are often visually unappealing. Thus, you should strive for copy simplicity:

  • Keep it between 2 to 5 words
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use adjacent page space for more information

Of course, simplicity is also relative to what your unique audience expects. Average audiences might dislike jargon, for example, but invested, savvy audiences might appreciate it in moderation.

#3 Keep your CTA visible and above the fold

On the subject of placement, CTA visibility is among the most common missteps. Here, consider such factors as the following:

  • Ensure your chosen font is highly readable
  • Use a contrasting CTA color in relation to the page
  • Place your CTA above the fold to ensure visibility
  • Avoid visual clutter around the CTA
  • Limit each page to one CTA to avoid decision fatigue

#4 Add a countdown timer to incite agency

Having ensured simplicity, clarity, and visibility, you may then consider countdown timers to incite urgency. The role of your CTAs is to inspire action, after all, and few things do so as successfully as urgency.

For reference, consider that Sleeknote found that popups with countdown timers outperformed ones without timers by 113%. In principle, the same applies to CTAs – which should explain the common “sign up now”, “hurry!”, and similar copy choices.

#5 Make it stylish– where appropriate

Finally, you may attempt to spice up your CTAs. Most notably, you may employ humor; for example, OptinMonster’s exit-intent popup cries “that’s abandonment!” as you leave. HootSuite’s exclaims, “well, this is awkward”, before continuing that they “could’ve SWORN you were someone” interested in their services.

These are evidently very effective, as their audiences find them charming. However, this kind of humor is in line with their branding, and resonates with their audiences. Yours may both differ, so when trying to create great CTAs using A/B testing, make sure to do your due research.

Comments

Add your Comments

Feel free to leave a comment about this post.

- Feel Free to add HTML to your comment!