A lot has been written about the little old call-to-action button.

It’s the most simple element of any ad or sales page. Yet marketers spend huge amounts of time, money and creative energy building and testing variants.

So why the obsession?

If there’s one thing that multitudes of split-tests have shown, it’s that CTA buttons can drive dramatically different results.

Get it right, and clicks start flowing in (assuming everything else is working properly).

But get it wrong and your ads could be duds. And there’s nothing worse than an ad that people won’t click, right?

So let’s take a look at how you can give your CTA button a makeover to double (or even triple) your conversions.

1. Try different text variations

Sign Up Now. Click Here. Learn More.

All of these phrases belong in a graveyard for obsolete call-to-actions.

Just think about it. You’ve put together the perfect ad copy. You’ve outlined benefits, stirred emotions and generated excitement. And you’ve packaged everything in a beautiful design.

Then you go and spoil it all by plonking “Click Here” at the bottom.

Your button is about triggering action. Nothing else. To do this, your CTA text should evoke emotion or express a benefit.

You might evoke urgency with text like, “Buy while stocks last!” Or excitement with something like, “Get your (totally) free trial now!”

Whatever the case, avoid boring phrases like the plague.

2. Experiment with colours

In 2009, Unbounce declared that the majority of future CTA buttons would be orange. That was the colour they believed would generate most clicks.

Were they right?

I would guess that there are thousands of case-studies testing colour variations.

Some say red works best. Some say green. Others won’t use anything other than pink.

The great CTA colour debate hasn’t yielded a firm answer. But one thing is clear.

The colour of your button can have a huge effect on your clicks. Dmix increased conversions by 34% by changing from green to red. Monetate saw a 9% boost when they switched from orange to blue.

Different colours evoke different emotions. While a fluorescent purple button might prove effective for one audience, it will likely be counterproductive for another.

3. Build up to your CTA

A call-to-action is only as good as the ad it’s part of. If your text sucks or if your design looks like it’s been plucked straight from the nineties, then even the best CTA in the world won’t do any good.

Make sure that your CTA text elaborates on, and fits with, what you’ve described in your ad.

Emphasise the free trial you’ve just offered. Mention the no-strings-attached report. Rekindle the emotions they felt when they read about the results you can deliver.

It’s also important to maintain flow after somebody has clicked through. If you’re offering a particular incentive with your CTA (free trial, eBook, discount etc.) it’s vital that readers are taken to the right page.

4. Never underestimate the importance of split-testing

Call-to-action buttons are one of the easiest things to split-test. Ever.

Any ad platform worth its salt will give you the ability to split-test ads with different CTAs. Many will also automatically favour the top performers so that wasted revenue is minimised.

There are enough case-studies and well-publicised experiments n the blogosphere to fill a library. But there are no universally-applicable results.

The only way to really know is to create your own variations and run your own tests.

You can (and should) test even the smallest features. One psychologist has suggested that buttons with rounded corners generate more clicks because we’re evolutionary wired to avoid sharp edges in nature.

How to get started: 3 practical suggestions

Most marketers take a pretty straightforward approach to testing ad variations. They’ll pick their most successful ad, change one element and track the results. If the new ad outperforms the old one, they’ll replace it and rinse and repeat.

You can take as simple or as complex an approach as you wish. Here are three practical suggestions to get you started with your own split-tests:

  1. Write one emotion-filled CTA and one unusual one.
  2. Create one green CTA button and one red CTA button.
  3. Use your CTA to re-emphasise a benefit mentioned in your copy.

One final word of warning. Whenever you see a shiny new CTA case-study reporting a 783% increase in conversions, tread with caution.

What works for one audience doesn’t always work for another.

Take the tweak, create a split-test and measure your results. Simple.