5 Sneaky Reasons Your CTA Button Text Scares People Away

By Brad Smith

You’ve done all the hard work: You pay for traffic. Create compelling headlines to lure people in. Design beautiful landing pages to wring out every last conversion.

And yet at the moment of truth, when it’s time to click or buy or join or submit…they bounce.

Your call-to-action button copy should be reinforcing whatever it is someone is about to receive. It should be an afterthought, ideally. A nonissue you don’t have to worry about.

But instead, it’s literally scaring people away.

Excuse this totally non-seasonal image, but it is scary, right?

Here are five reasons that your call-to-action text isn’t working, along with 5 ways to fix it.

Reason #1. Weak, Limpy CTA Words

The most persuasive word in the English language is “You.” (Because people are selfish?)

The second is “Free.” (Because people are cheap?)

These “power words” (as they’re known in the biz) are persuasive because they speak to our old, dumb, lizard brains that have failed to evolve or keep pace with the times. (Kinda like those Birkenstocks that keep popping up everywhere.)

Here’s the problem. Nobody reads anymore. This was confirmed ages ago, in a now-ancient Nielsen Norman Group eye-tracking study, where they noted that “exhaustive (word-for-word) reading is rare” online.

cta button text eye tracking

Oh, and there’s another issue. How many browser tabs do you have open right now? Because the average is 3-5 (on the low side). And let’s not even get into the TV being on in the background, or what your mobile’s streaming in the foreground.

number of open tabs by age and gender

(image source)

Point is, we’re distracted as hell. Which is “literally altering our brain chemistry” according to research compiled in an excellent Trello article. Despite the fact that it makes you feel productive, they go on to say, “it’s actually making you scatterbrained, thus decreasing your ability to remember any single piece of information.”

So what’s the antidote?

Fear. Greed. Envy. Lust. Those visceral emotions that once helped stone-age humans to avoid getting eaten, fall off cliffs, and reproduce so that we could eventually one day idolize people like Justin Bieber. (Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all?)

Power words speak to these long-forgotten feelings. The mere mention of “sabotage”, for example, gets people to sit up and take notice. (Also, 1500+ shares. Thank you kindly.)

Most savvy marketers know that CTA button copy should utilize some action or verb to get people to click. But it turns out that according to multiple tests, any generic “Sign Up” don’t cut it.

Whenever, wherever possible, those actions need to also include the value that someone’s gonna get after they click.

So instead of the generically vague “Click Here”, it should be, “Get Instant Access Now”.

emotional cta button examples

Reinforce the value someone’s about to receive with action-oriented language that speaks to our lizard brains.

Reason #2. Poor Relevance, Message Match, and Priming

Message match” in advertising is the alignment of key variables, like the keyword someone is searching for, with your ad text and the landing page that they’ll eventually (hopefully) hit.

Ad networks like AdWords use Quality Scores to measure the relevance between what you’re advertising and the intent or purpose behind what someone’s searching for. The more relevance there is between what the searcher wants and what you’re offering, the higher your Quality Score.

So an improvement in message match should deliver an increased Quality Score, which will drop your costs by 16% for each point you can raise it.

hacking adwords impact on quality scoreThis happens on Facebook too, where Relevance Score measures the relationship between an audience segment and your advertisements, to ultimately determine who you’re gonna reach and how much you’re gonna pay to reach them.

But there are far more obvious reasons, besides ad spend efficiency, for increasing relevance or message match.

The simple act of choosing, or making a decision, is cognitively stressful. Decision fatigue eventually sets in, rendering your poor, tired, lizard brain unable to make even the simplest choice of where to go to dinner tonight. (Now you have a valid excuse the next time your spouse gets mad at you for saying you “don’t care”.)

Marketers can reduce decision fatigue by “priming” customers. Which, it turns out, is exactly what you’re doing when making your ads and landing pages line-up together. See how visually, this ad and landing page look almost exactly the same, down to the CTA words?

massage match cta button copy

(image source)

(Pictures of so-ugly-they’re-adorable pugs don’t hurt, either.)

Button copy works the same. By changing it from an emotionless “Download” CTA…

download button call to action

… to better reflect what someone’s going to get (specifically, a “Price Guide”)…

price guide button cta text

… you can skyrocket clicks by 620.9%.

A simple two-word tweak increases relevance, improves messages match, primes customers to act, and lifts results. All in one fell swoop.

Reason #3. No Compelling Reason Why

“Click Here to Continue Reading” isn’t the most compelling button copy. And now you can already see the problems.

For one, nobody likes to read. So “continue reading” doesn’t exactly inspire. If it did, you would still have a Borders bookstore to go kill time in, flipping through images in magazines.

No, the value – the compelling reason why one should “click here” or “continue” anything – is the end result that “reading” will get you.

Years ago, Laura Roeder ran a promotion with that exact button copy. And the results were predictably lackluster.

So she worked with Visual Website Optimizer to come up with the new CTA button copy, “Make Me Famous!” It resulted in an immediate 8.39% boost in conversions.

call to action button copy

The new winning call-to-action copy encapsulates everything we’ve touched on so far. It uses an action-oriented verb that expertly emphasizes the end results, while at the same …read more

Read more here:: wordstream.com

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