Conversion rate optimization is a term you’ve probably started seeing crop up around the marketing world, and it’s something we allude to frequently at MuseBytes. But what does that actually entail as it pertains to calls to action throughout a website?

In conversations we’ve had with various business owners it seems a lot of people think it means making sure to include a call to action on each page of a site. Bad design companies don’t do this, and good ones make sure every page has one.

That’s a start, but there’s more to conversion rate optimization than simply prompting a user to make a phone call.

The Psychology of User Intent Affects Conversion Rate

Having a call to action (CTA) merely puts you in the game. From there, everything from the colors you use to the shape of buttons, and even the words used affect how successful the call to action will be. Common pitfalls include:

  • CTAs that feel out of place, jarring, or forced
  • CTAs used in a way that makes the whole page feel pushy
  • CTAs that trigger negative emotions and destroy rapport
  • CTAs that are boring or forgettable

A common example of bad button text is the word “Submit” within an opt-in form. Submit means being submissive, which is a power dynamic you don’t want to create with a prospective customer. Subconsciously this button makes them feel like they’re being forced or pressured into whatever the form is asking for, which then triggers stubborn parts of the brain to resist or overthink following through.

Ever seen someone fill out part or all of a form but stop at the last bit? Maybe you’ve done this yourself. Last minute changes of heart like that are often to do with that pesky button and how it makes you feel.

Successful calls to action involve an offer or a perceived benefit. A simple example is on the Social Triggers website front page, where an opt-in area uses a button that says “Click To Get Free Updates.” It’s not as aggressive as it could be, but is certainly better than a generic “Subscribe” button and does convey what the reader will get by clicking. And as a major player in the conversion game, Social Triggers wouldn’t use it if it didn’t work.

How did the user likely end up on a given page, and what were they seeking? This will also affect what type of call to action is appropriate. Highly informational pages pair well with newsletter opt-ins and subscriptions, since you’re proving you provide good information that they’ll want more of. Trying to sell them something when they’ve probably just come to answer a quick question can be problematic, especially depending on where and when you do it.

Conversely, sales-oriented pages that aren’t pushing toward a phone call or a product purchase are falling short if they’re only going for an email opt-in. (Unless a subscription is the only “sale” that business is looking for.)

Immediate popups ruin your chance to “earn it”. If a user ends up on your site and is immediately hit in the face with a box asking them to do something, it sends the wrong message.

  • You haven’t shown them anything yet, so how would they know if they want to subscribe or buy something?
  • It makes it seem like you’re more interested in selling than helping.

It’s annoying, and chances are the user will immediately close the box. Then, after actually reading your content and actually being interested, there’s no longer a call to action.

Examples of more strategic popups:

  • Ones that pop up from the bottom as the reader reaches the bottom of the page, indicating they’ve seen all or most of the page material. This is a good time for an “ask”.
  • Timed popups; ones triggered after the user is on the page for a certain span of time, such as 90 seconds.
  • Popups that trigger as the user hits the back button or tries to navigate away. These are a last chance to make a pitch.

We’ll cover more in subsequent posts on conversion. This should clarify how much deeper conversion optimization goes than the surface explanation most have, though.