High-impact Button Copy – How to write calls-to-action that convert

Your call to action copy is just as important as the button itself. And even the smallest tweaks can have major impact on your conversion rates. But how do you write button copy that converts? Get the answer in this 6-minute session, where I’ve taken my experience from 4 years of testing button copy and distilled it into a a simple principle you can use to consistently write your own high-impact button copy.

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Video Transcript:

Hello – I’m Michael Aagaard, thank you very much for joining this little session today on writing call to action copy that converts.

In this short video I’ve taken my experience from four years of testing button copy and distilled it into a simple optimization principle and a few easy steps that you can use to consistently write high impact button copy of your own.

The thing you have to understand about calls-to-action is that they represent the tipping point between bounce and conversion. When you ask someone to do something online, they have to go through your CTA in order to do it. And the final thing that they are going to interact with in that critical moment where they have to make up their minds is the button copy itself.

So even though tweaking a bit of button copy represents a minor change on the page, it will have a major impact on the decision making process of your potential customers. And that’s why it’s so important to get it just right.

Getting it just right very much depends on the individual case. But what I have observed throughout all these tests that I’ve conducted is that the more value and relevance that you can convey via your call-to-action copy – the more conversions you’ll get. That’s the optimization principle I want you to understand today. So let’s have a look at a few case studies in order to illustrate how you can use the principle in practice.

Ok so this is an example from one of my clients. They have a B2B website where they rent out offices. They have like 30.000 offices and when you find one that’s interesting you have to click a button to get more information sent via email. What you’re seeing here is the original button copy, the control version.

It could be worse. But the main problem with this call-to-action is that it doesn’t convey any value. It focuses on what you have to do – not what you are going to get. The word “order” itself is negative because it suggests that you have to go through process – and who knows, maybe you have to go through 10 steps in order get the information you want. “Get” on the other hand is positive. It conveys value and emphasizes what you’re going to get – not what you have to do.

So as you can see – it’s a minor change that has major impact on the messaging.

And when I tested it out in real life – it also turned out to have a major impact on the potential customers. Treatment A generated a lift of 38.26% in conversions. This call-to-action is located across 30.000 pages on the web site. So you can imagine the accumulated impact of changing this one word.

So that was an example of how to add value The main thing here is to focus on what your potential customers are going to get – not what they have to do. Let’s have look at how to add relevance.

This is an example from another one of my other clients. It’s a chain of gyms here in Scandinavia. The button is taken from a PPC landing page where the goal is to get potential customers to click through to the check out flow where they can choose gym and buy their membership. So this is the original button copy that I wrote. It already emphasizes value – is could have said “Buy membership” – which is negative – but it says “Get membership” emphasizing what your going to get. However, the button is generic, it’s not specific to the decision at hand – it could be used on pretty much any page that has to do with a membership.

Now I was thinking of ways to make the button more relevant. And I found out via customer surveys, that one of the most important factors when you have to choose a gym membership is the actual location of the gym.

So I came up with this variant. “Find gym and get membership”. And when I tested it, it generated a 68% lift in conversions. So making that button super relevant to the specific conversion scenario had a significant impact on the decision making process of the potential customers. So that was an example of adding relevance – the main thing here is to focus on what is relevant to the motivation of the prospect in the situation in which your asking him or her to click the button.

Ok, so what you can do know is to review your website – or pretty much anywhere to have a call to action for example an email – and look for places where the copy is either; a blatant order “SUBMIT” or “SEND”, or where it doesn’t convey value and focuses on what to have to do for example “BUY NOW”, or where the copy is generic and not very relevant for the specific conversion scenario “DOWNLOAD”.

When you’ve located a CTA that you want to optimize – then ask yourself 2 questions:

1. What is my prospect’s motivation for clicking this button?

2. What is my prospect going to get, when he/she clicks this button?

The answers you come up with are going to be the basis for the button copy. Of course you’ll have to refine and tweak it – but it’s a great way to get started. I do urge you to test your new copy instead of just relying on gut instinct. As I said, your button copy has major impact on conversions and you want to make certain that your moving in the right direction, and the only way to that is to test it in real life.

And on that note, I’d like to say thank you for watching and I hope to see again some day soon. Bye, bye!



  1. Hey Michael!

    I just want to congratulate you on the new blog! It’s looks soo slick!
    How did you come up with this so fast :)?

    I hope(and think) your new blog will be the start of a lot of new things for you!

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Frederik – thank you very much!

      Ha ha – I’ve been in stealth mode lately, moving in the shadows getting everything ready for launch.

      And congratulations to you too on your new .com blog ;-)

      – Michael

  2. Dear Michael

    Thank you for a very interesting video and congratulations on this new exciting blog. I guess many conversion optimizationist have a hard time doing buttons for e-commerce sites. Normally you would use something like the wording ‘Add To Basket’ or ‘Buy’.

    Do you have any thoughts on how one can possibly incorporate relevancy and value to a buy button in a e-commerce shop? ie. Amazon?

    Best regards Nikolaj

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Thank you very much Nikolaj!

      Great and highly relevant question!

      It’s pretty difficult to write super relevant button copy for a shop that has 50.000 products ;-)
      And you can’t avoid a certain level of genericness – unless you have time to write custom button copy for each.

      For starters, I’d avoid the “BUY NOW” and “CLICK HERE”. “Add to Basket” is pretty generic, but it does have the advantage of being neutral rather than negative. Moreover, it is relevant to the action at hand. I’d experiment with different variations starting with the word “Get”. It would be really interest to test e.g. “Get product” against “BUY NOW”.

      Perhaps you could experiment with different button copy for different product groups? That way you could narrow down the number of buttons and make it easier to create relevant button copy. E.g. “Get this book”, “Add CD to basket”, “Get your copy”, etc.

      If you end up testing some of these variations, I’d love to hear about your results!

      – Michael

      • Danm a workload that would give the ecommerce store – a different text on every button..
        I have yet to see the ecommerce shop system, that actually has the possibility to create unique button text at all for the different product buttons. In my humble opinion, I dont think that the workload, compared to the outcome would make sense.
        Most people that shops in the ecommerce store is not dumb, and know how to shop to day. Just dont scare them off with all to creative text, and you will be fine..

        But yes, it needs to be tested – and the “Get product” and “Buy now” is a good start – both pretty generic texts..

        (by the way – the form comment boxes goes all CAPITAL on me – I though for a long moment, that my keyboard was broken :-) – but nice sleek design)

        • Michael Aagaard says:

          Hi Brain – thanks for the comment.

          I agree 100%, it would be an insane workload to go through every button on an e-commerce site – I thought that came across pretty clearly in my comment from earlier ;-) I also agree that it probably wouldn’t be worth the investment. The principle i showed you in the video is much easier to apply to a specific CTA on e.g. a signup form or a landing page with a clear conversion goal.

          I should also mention that I’m in no way a fan of writing overly creative copy for buttons. Also, I’d never recommend writing new CTA copy just for the sake of writing new copy. There should always be an underlying thesis that you’re testing – like you should always have a clear goal with your CRO endeavors.

          Of course people aren’t dumb, and of course they now that a button is a button. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t experiment, test, and optimize. And the fact remains that optimizing button copy is, in most cases, a very low-hanging fruit that can yield an insane ROI or return on time spent testing. I have an extensive back catalogue of split tests where I’ve experimentet with button copy, and I’ve consistently been able to achieve lifts of anywhere from 10 to several hundred percent.I recently increased the overall conversion rate for one of my clients by 200+ percent by tweaking button copy alone.

          Thanks for the heads-up on the comment box. I haven’t had that problem in Crome, Firefox or Safari. What browser are you using?

          – Michael

        • Lasse skov says:

          Each time I visit a new restaurant or bar there seem to be some new “creative” bathroom door symbol showing which door leads to the men’s room or the women’s room. Sometimes I have to stop and figure out if that’s a “gentleman” with a top hat, or a woman with tall hair.
          My point is that i just want to go the bathroom instead of spending time figuring out which door to choose.

          I’m all for testing but “Add to cart” is common and known button the I would guess most people understand. I also think most people understand what happens when you click it.

          I think it would be more interesting to add more to this known button and make it even more relevant for the costumer.

          For instance:

          The product is on sale:
          “Add to cart and save $25″

          If you add this item to your basket, the shipping is free
          “Add to cart and we ship for free!”

          If you want to focus on fast shipping:
          “Add to cart and we ship today!”

          I would like to see the results for this :)


          • Michael Aagaard says:

            Ha ha ha – awesome analogy Lasse! I’ve tried that myself: pausing at the restroom, scratching my head, trying to decipher the bizarre doodle on the door ;-)

            “Add to cart – we ship for free” is an awesome, awesome suggestions. MAybe a variation: “Add to cart – get free shipping”. I simply have to test that very soon!

            Thanks for the great input.

            – Michael

  3. Hi Michael
    Grats on the new blog :).

    I just took a look at this page and already got some more ideas for tests (hint: the buy bottons and free shipping).

    About making different button, maybe the option in the shop should be to divide products into classes with each their button. So you have maybe 10-20 buttons, and at the product you choose which buy button you wish to use.

    Maybe test some automatic settings, where all products on sale get the yellow “Buy now – save 9.99″?.

    The only problem when I read your postings around the net, is that I want to test everything, but I don´t have the possibility to do so (yet ;) ).

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Thanks Thomas!

      Great button ideas, I’d love to hear about your results if you test them.

      Ha ha – yeah I know the feeling. It would be awesome if we could test every tiny detail and get accurate data on how it’s affecting the conversion rate ;-)

      – Michael

  4. Great video and great suggestions – I also have problems with the “big letters” and use IE

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Thanks Henrik!

      Yes, I’ll have to find the solution to the caps somewhere in the stylesheet ;-)

      – Michael

  5. I wonder – as others have mentioned – in a standard webshop b2c a certent standard in layout and in cta in bottuns helps the client to navigate – the client know whats next and so on – have you tried some test on cta on the bottuns in such a standard shop?

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Henrik – in fact, I’m running some CTA tests on a shop right now ;-)

      I’ll publish the results on Online-Tekstforfatter.dk when the tests are conclusive.

      – Michael

  6. hi Michael – great short tip – I use OptomisePress and their set buttons are restrictive, and I couldn’t bear the thought of photoshopping “get” – but maybe oneday, when I’m rich, I’ll outsource it, then split test it – yeah!

    Can’t wait to see what you have next for us!

    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Kate – Thank you so much!

      I’m glad you liked the video. Let me know if there is anything specific, you’d like to learn more about ;-)

      – Michael

  7. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your daily delivery of great content! Did you ever consider testing “find gym, get fit (!)” Higlighting benefits, rather than “means” (membership) ? Or perhaps the “membership” was a pre-requisite in the campaign..


    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Janus – Thank you for the kind words!

      I never tested that, but it’s a good candidate. My main concern is that the “get fit” part promises too much in the sense that the “get fit” aspect is really up to the individual who buys the membership.

      – Michael

  8. Always excited to read your posts. Actually i’m running an experiment right now where my Hypothesis is:

    Changing the CTA copy from a generic copy “Add to Cart” to more specific, relevant and value adding one “Get XXXX Now (Primary Copy), And Improve Your Cholesterol By 30 pts. in 30 days 100% No-Risk Guaranteed (Secondary Copy) ” will increase click though rate.

    I have a great feeling that i shall see some good lifts from this. Thanks for the inspiration michael :)

    Any advise ?

    Will let you know of the result soon.


    • Michael Aagaard says:

      Hi Yassin – Souns like a very interesting test!

      But it’s difficult to picture the test variants from your comment. Could you send me a link to the page or a few screen dumps?

      That’ll make it easier for me to give you pointers.

      – Michael

      • That’s awesome micheal. Would really appreciate it.

        this is the control: http://www.choleslo.com/2/a.php

        1- I’m changing the CTA copy to: “Get My Cholesterol Down”
        2- I’m making the guarantee more prominent and changing the copy to: “Guaranteed To Lower Your Cholesterol By 30 Points In 30 days or Your Money Back Plus $100″

        – My hypothesis for the CTA: changing the CTA copy to a benefit driven one will increase CTR

        – My hypothesis for the guarantee: Making the guarantee statement more prominent and reemphasizing the value prop will decrease anxiety, thus increase conversions

        Looking forward for your feedback :)

        Make your day

        • Michael Aagaard says:

          Hi Yassin great hypotheses! I think the new button copy will do well in the test.

          I think the new angle on the guarantee is super interesting as well.

          – Michael

  9. Great Video. I can’t wait to start revising my buttons and see the test results. :)

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