How To Optimize The CTA Buttons On Your SaaS Website

Claire Heginbotham
June 1, 2022
3 mins
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A simple change in your CTA button placement, design, and copy can greatly impact the signups you receive. But before we start, dear reader, I want to be the first person to clear one thing up…

… buttons are kinda boring.

The humble CTA button is nowhere near as exciting as top ten lists or “done in 10 min” templates. No, understanding button copy is fiddly, complicated work.

But stick with it, because it’s one of the most important elements of a high converting web page. This article doesn’t just use common-sense conversion principles; it also refers directly to plenty of real-world scenarios and research. Research that comes in the scientific form of A / B tests or peer-reviewed behavioral analyses.

Yes, writing button copy is boring on the first impression. But trust me, the logic-defying phycology behind them is anything but. Let’s dive in.

The basic best practices for your call-to-action buttons

Some quick tips that you should follow before bothering with the more advanced stuff.

  1. Make sure your button is large enough and has readable text. It sounds simple, but I’ve seen so many DIY sites miss the mark here. Your button copy should be at least as big as your paragraph copy (but never as big as your headings). It can be a different font to the rest of your website, but it should NEVER be challenging to read (i.e., don’t use cursive for buttons).
  2. Help your buttons stand out with contrasting color scheme. The background color of a buttons should always contrast the web page. Color that pops to draw the attention of your target audience. For example, in this test, changing CTA button colors from green to orange resulted in a 22% increase in conversions. (I checked this a step further to verify a significant jump in color saturation for the winning orange. Contrast via saturation can be an easy way to get colors to ‘pop')
  3. Keep your main CTA consistent. If you were asked to “sign up,” then told to “get started,” and finally to “try it now,” you’d feel a little dizzy just trying to decide what to click. Just how much work are you signing up for by clicking any one of these buttons? A good cta is consistent.
  4. Make sure your buttons are aligned on a mobile device. If you’re sending traffic to your website via marketing campaigns, you can expect +-50% of your traffic to come through on mobile devices. Bad button alignment will, at best, make for a bad user experience with website visitors feeling mildly distrustful of your sloppy design. At worst, the button could be difficult to see and, thus, exponentially more difficult to click.
  5. Leave white space. White space is not necessarily white but instead refers to empty space around your primary CTA (it can also just be a simple white background). White space is the best way to draw attention away other elements and onto your button. NOTE: This does not apply to all cultures. In Japan and China, clean designs with lots of white space have reduced conversions.

Consider your visitor’s commitment level

When they come to your web page, potential customers are at different stages of commitment or understanding. If you don’t meet your reader at their current stage, your messaging will fall on deaf ears (or eyes?).

A great example of such a mistake is using a free trial CTA at the top of your homepage. Such a sudden demand of your reader is almost like going on a blind date, leaning over, and boldly asking, “wanna skip dinner and go straight to the hotel?”.

It might work sometimes… but there’s a high risk that you’ll leave with wine on your shirt!

woman throws wine

A good landing page will aim to get increasingly higher levels of commitment from the reader.

  • Oblivious: I have no idea who you are and don’t really care (you don’t want to target these people as they’re unlikely to move to even a minor commitment).
  • Minor commitment: I’m not sure who you are or if you can help me, but I’ll go to your website to find out.
  • Some commitment: I’ve spent a minute reading your site. But I still don’t entirely trust you yet. Maybe I’ll poke around and read some reviews.
  • Major commitment: I trust you enough to take a leap of faith and sign up.

Minor Commitment: Use value-based button copy

Button text like “sign up” is pretty much a waste of pixels to someone who’s uncommitted to your brand.

Value-based button copy is not necessarily there to convert but rather educate and convince. For example, an effective cta button with value-based copy might read “Get your <time/day/life/sanity> back.” or even “Learn more”. Your button value proposition should be grounded in what people specifically get. What benefit are they getting from clicking your humble button?

(The exception is products that require downloads. An app store download image is a great way to immediately signal an important aspect of your product, falling under the purpose of education).

One thing these value-based buttons have in common is that they enable the user to buy into what you’re selling without committing to a big ‘ol scary ‘sign up’ button.

Major Commitment: When button copy with a specific action is the best call

If the reader is near commitment or major commitment, you should transition into harder calls to action (CTAs) like “sign up,” “get started,” or “start free trial”.

Remember, even a small “learn more” button requires users to make a purchase

So many people have said to me, “I don’t understand why no one is signing up?! It’s free! What more do they want?”

So if it’s free, why wouldn’t people be signing up by the million?

Because as your dad / uncle / crazy aunt / accountant will tell you — there’s no such thing as free. At least not psychologically.

There are hidden costs whenever you click a button.

First, you pay with your time. Then you pay with your energy. Energy is a biggie — you spend it on evaluating options, working to understand the purpose of the tool, setting up the tool in your current workflow, etc.

Then there’s what I like to call the “fearful unknown” cost. Clicking and potentially changing your current way of doing things introduces all kinds of anxieties:

  • Will it work like it said it would
  • Will I understand how to use it
  • Is this another one of those spammy things?
  • Can I afford to transition to a new way?
  • How am I going to even learn this thing… am I smart enough?
  • And so on.

Your button copy MUST help reduce the cost of time, energy, and the unknown. It must NOT introduce more unknowns.

How to reduce the cost of clicking a button

In a nutshell, it comes down to clear communication and understanding the various objections visitors might have.

  1. Get clear on what they’re saying yes to. Instead of “sign up for a demo,” put in “sign up for a 15-minute demo”.
  2. **Minimize anxiety with microcopy ** under or above the button. For example, this is where “no credit card required” comes into play. It directly tries to reduce the perceived cost of signing up.
  3. Use the power of “FREE.” Psychologically, “free” still gets our attention and buy-in. The idea of missing out pushes us forward and gives us a sense of urgency. Read this article by Dan Ariely to learn a little more about the science behind this.
  4. Use the power of “Get.” What would you rather do — book an appointment OR get advice? Most find the latter is far more enticing: Book requires YOU to do something, Get implies no effort on your part beyond receipt. Here’s a good example of how this exact wording improved lead conversion by 60%.

But it’s not that simple. If you’re on a website to book an appointment, your button copy should still say ‘book appointment.’ When your user is ready to commit, your copy should be clear and actionable.

How to set up A / B testing for buttons

I don’t recommend that you go and set up conversion rate tracking for every button on your blog post or landing page (that’s a waste of time unless you’re big into eCommerce or have a lot of traffic).

Run A / B tests on your most important buttons. The buttons that educate, and the ones that convert. This is especially easy if you’ve got a dedicated product page focused on the conversion and the conversion alone.

I use goal tracking in Google Analytics for social media and web testing. However, you can also try testing with tools like VWO or Thrive Themes.

Write a more effective call to action

Even if your site is plastered with “Sign up for free”... it might be the right choice for you. Just because it is typical doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Sometimes going with the grain and choosing **clarity **over clever creativity is the right option.

But other times, a small change can communicate even better with your customers and produce the best results.

Ready to take the next step optimize your homepage and sales pages? Get your checklist here for free.

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Claire Heginbotham
Copywriter at Copy Island