How to Split Test Your Call to Action in Emails

    by Eugenia Bondarenko
    The call-to-action or CTA is perhaps the most important part of your marketing email. If the CTA is powerful enough, it can seal the deal right away. If not, the entire email – its copy, design and offer – is a waste.

    So what makes a call-to-action interesting and powerful enough?

    The main problem is that there is no definite answer. What works for someone else might not work for you. Similarly, a completely absurd, unorthodox or unconventional idea might significantly improve your CTR and conversions. Therefore, split testing is the ideal way to optimize and fine-tune your call-to-action. In this post, let’s see how you can do that. Mainly, there are three elements that you can test right away. These are:
    • The structure of CTA (Button or Link)
    • CTA design
    • CTA copy

    Call-to-Action – Button or Link?

    There are many things to test about the design of your call-to-action. But first of all, you will have to make an important decision. Is the call-to-action in your email going to be a “link” or a “button”? There are people who debate the effectiveness of a CTA button against a text-link. But you’ll have to test it on your own to see which one suits your email marketing needs in the best possible manner. For most e-mail marketing campaigns, using buttons for CTA always seems a better option. It’s more prominent, result-oriented and clickable. Big marketing and copywriting brands, including Copyblogger, use a very big and prominent CTA button for their emails. However, at the same time, there have been tests which indicate that CTA buttons may not be a good long-term option. It doesn’t mean, however, that buttons are not effective. It is just that a CTA button has to be designed really well in the first place. Otherwise, your target audience will just become “numb” to it after a few months. Online marketing guru, Neil Patel, doesn’t use a CTA button in his emails. He just uses a very simple text-link. 1 While Copyblogger uses a button, as you can see in the following screenshot. 2 So there is no one rule about it, and you should test it out on your own. If you can’t decide anything for now, start with a button. And it has to be designed well, which leads us to our next point …

    CTA Design

    There are many things you can test for optimizing your CTA button. Its color, prominence and appeal are some of the most important aspects. One good idea is to test your existing CTA button with different color combinations. The human nature is to concentrate more on differences. This is why using contrasting colors and designs can be an excellent idea. For instance, the following split test is mentioned in a post on Copyblogger. The control page was tested against two different variations, and as expected, the 3rd variation – with the most contrasting and prominent CTA button – showed the best results. It converted 91% more than the control page. 3 Just make sure that your CTA button does look like a button. Moreover, never use a grey CTA button as it produces the worst results. Instead, consider using red for your CTA button. Red means dominance, winning and often, authority. Furthermore, CTA buttons work particularly well with the color red. In fact, an extensive study showed that the red CTA button outperformed a green CTA button 3 out of 3 times.

    The Copy of Your CTA Button

    As it is with design, you can also run a few tests for the copy of your CTA button. It has been observed that the text (copy) of the CTA button can have a huge impact on clicks and conversions. A good idea is to change the CTA copy from a general call-to-action to the first-person mode. For instance, Michael Aagard of Content Verve ran a split test and changed the CTA copy to first person. By changing a single word, the click-through ratio was increased by 90%. 4


    So these are the three really important aspects to begin with. Of course, there are dozens of other things that you can test to optimize your CTA. The key is to keep testing and experimenting with different variations. Note your CTR, conversions and ROI to find the best possible combination.
    Written by:
    Eugenia Bondarenko
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