How Split Testing Your CTA Will Boost Your Business

What is your reason for sending emails? To get subscribers, to get customers, to make sales to previous customers? Whatever your goal is, you’re always looking for your recipients to DO something.

What is your reason for sending emails? To get subscribers, to get customers, to make sales to previous customers? Whatever your goal is, you’re always looking for your recipients to DO something.

So you include a call to action (CTA). Your CTA is what drives someone to do what you want them to do. If you’re not confident in your CTA, there is a quick fix for you!


That’s right… a split test.

CTA, like sign up forms and subject lines, are awesome to split test. The right call to action can drastically affect your email campaign and truly drive your business up. Split testing is the perfect way to make sure you’re putting the best call to action out there.

Variables to test?

When it comes to a call to action, the smallest change can have a huge impact. And there are a lot of things you can change.

The Daily Egg, a blog for conversion optimization, design and copywriting tips, highlights six variables to consider when designing a call to action.

  • Size (How big is the link? Will people notice it right away?)
  • Color (Does the button stand out?)
  • Text (Do people understand exactly what will happen if they click?)
  • Position (Do people have to scroll to see the button?)
  • White Space (Is the link getting lost in the clutter?)
  • Special Effects (Does the button attract attention because it stands out from the page?)

We’ve tested some of these variables ourselves over the years.

Are buttons best?

In our early days of sending out blog newsletters, we wanted to know if people were more likely to click on a noticeable button in our email, or if they would respond better to a text link. So we ran split tests. One email variant had a noticeable button. The other email variant used a text link instead of a button.

At first, the button was getting significantly more attention. It was bigger, it stood out from the rest of the page, and the call to action really jumped off the screen.

But one time the text link beat the button by a significant amount. We couldn’t let this go unexplored, so we continued to test.

Eventually, after about 40 tests, we determined the text links to be a better call to action for us. Once the novelty of the button wore off, our subscribers seemed to be more comfortable with the less glaring link.

What words work?

The phrasing of your call to action can also have an enormous impact on it’s success. Copyblogger explored the impact of the words “Click here” versus more creative link text, using data from Marketing Sherpa.

Their findings were surprising: “Click here” was the most effective way to get someone to click.

Marketing Sherpa also tested their standard call to action (“Continue here…”) against three new call to action options. Here are their results:

  • “Click to continue”: 8.53%
  • “Continue to article”: 3.3%
  • “Read more”: (-)1.8%

“Click to continue” was the clear winner, and they quickly changed their call to action.

Does color affect email click-through rate?

ConversionXL compiled the findings of tests that pitted red buttons against green buttons.

Red, as a color, can signify both dominance or danger. So what does that mean for a call to action?

call to action testing

Over the course of three case studies, where the only difference between buttons was the color, red beat out green 3 out of 3 times.

Don’t miss out …

Learn even more about split testing! Check out our free Minimalist Marketer’s Guide to Split Testing to learn everything you need to know to become a split testing master.

Minimalist Marketer's Guide to Split Testing