How Does Language Affect Conversion Rates? Here Are the Awesome Results of Our CTA A/B Test.

By Sarah Asp Olson

cta featured image

Ah, the ubiquitous CTA button. Whether shouting “BUY NOW” or subtly suggesting “check us out,” it’s everywhere. In our mobile-centric world, it’s usually a clickable button that urges digital readers to do something, such as buying a product, signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form.

We see it and click on it (or not), but have you ever stopped to ponder what makes one CTA button more effective than another? 

Many marketers (and a few psychologists) have written about what makes CTAs successful. Everything from color to placement on the page to the size and shape of the button can earn more clicks. When you boil it all down, though, the success of a CTA comes down to the response it elicits. By tapping into users’ pain points, sense of urgency or desires (subconscious or conscious), marketers can create CTAs that drive clicks and convert those clicks into valuable actions. 

As data-driven digital marketers, it’s our job to geek out over this kind of stuff. And, recently, we put our obsession to the test by experimenting with the primary CTA on our own website. We were curious to see if the language on the button itself (we left placement, color, shape, etc., alone) was as effective as it could be. The results are in, and you may be as surprised as we were. 

In this post, we’ll share the process we went through, the results and, ultimately, why it should matter to you. Ready to learn more? BUY NOW! 

J/k, just keep scrolling. 

Where We Started: Goals

You gotta start with a goal. In our case, it was to see if we could increase the conversion rate and/or the click-through rate of the primary CTA on a few pages of the madison/miles media website.  

Our primary CTA on the madison/miles media website looked like this: 

madison/miles CTA

We use this CTA throughout the site to encourage visitors to contact us for a free digital marketing assessment. We think it’s a great offer because you get 30 minutes of free digital marketing advice from our expert team! But did the phrase “Free Marketing Assessment,” while descriptive, make people want to click? 

Rich Aviles, m3’s SEO/PPC manager (who is always searching for potential improvements), thought we could get a better conversion rate for the CTA and hypothesized that the language on the button might be a part of the problem.

“’Free marketing assessment’ felt overly committal,” he says. “You have to be pretty far down the funnel to commit to a 30-minute call with somebody. The idea was basically to change the verbiage there to make it a bit more easygoing.”

The Process

The process started with research. Senior Account Manager Madison Stevens analyzed about a dozen competitor sites to scope out the language they were using. 

“The vast majority of sites I visited used a more casual approach for their CTAs, like ‘let’s chat,’ ” she says. “I also did some online research into best practices and the psychology behind CTA language that confirmed my hunch that we should be moving in that direction.” 

Stevens shared her research with the team, and then she and Aviles agreed on three new CTAs for the test: “Let’s Connect,” “Let’s Talk” and “Free Assessment.”

test cta options

“We chose ‘Let’s Talk’ and ‘Let’s Connect’ to make it a bit more casual and easy-going where you’re not committing to a plan but rather just having a conversation with an expert,” Aviles says. “Then we just chose ‘Free Assessment’ as the fourth option to see if making it a little lighter made a difference.” 

To run the test, Aviles used Google Optimize, which allowed us to make the change to different pages of the website and measure the impact on conversions. We installed a code snippet on high-traffic service pages, including the home page, SEO, digital marketing and content marketing pages, using WordPress and Yoast SEO

The Results

After running the test for 90 days, we collected more than 6,700 visitors on the pages where the rotating CTA language Google Optimize provided us with a clear breakdown of the results. It was interesting to see that the new CTA language outperformed the original by a significant margin, with the best-performing variant (“Let’s Connect”) having a calculated conversion rate of 2.63%, representing a 225% improvement over the original.

Here’s a closer look at the data:

cta test results data table

What It All Means

What does this mean? Well, the short answer is that it confirms what savvy marketers know: The language you use in your CTAs really does matter and can significantly impact your website’s performance. By experimenting with wording options, marketers can find the right message that resonates with their audience and drives conversions.

“It’s important to A/B test your CTAs because it gives you a good idea of your broader audience and who is coming to the website,” Aviles says. “The point is to broaden your funnel to build for long-term success. By engaging with more people who could become customers, you can steadily grow your funnel over time. One of the best ways to do this is to experiment with things like CTAs on your site. That data will provide a clear picture of what best engages your audience and motivates them to act.” 

What We’ll Test Next (and You Probably Should, Too)

What’s next on our never-ending list of A/B CTA tests? Aviles wants to see how the winning CTA (“Let’s Connect”) performs over the next 90 days and then try the runner-up (“Free Assessment”) to see how they do head-to-head. 

But there’s more to testing than just changing the color of a button or the language on a CTA. We also like to test different landing page designs, ad copy and email subject lines to see what resonates with our audience. And we’ll be keeping a close eye on the data to see what works and what doesn’t.

But here’s the thing: What works for us may not work for you and your target audience. That’s the beauty of A/B testing: It allows you to experiment and find what works best for your own audience. Don’t be afraid to try stuff out and take risks. Keep testing and experimenting to optimize your marketing efforts. 

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Sarah Asp Olson

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