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.

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 broadcasts that linked to our blog, we were trying to build our following. We wanted to know if people were more likely to click on a noticeable button, or if they would respond better to a text link. So we ran some tests.

CTA split testing
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 within the first few tests, the text link beat the button once by a significant amount. We couldn’t let this go unexplored, so we continued to test.

Eventually, over 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 the CTA can also have the enormous impact on it’s success. Copyblogger explored the impact of the words “Click here” in opposition to more creative link text that could help search engine optimization, using data from Marketing Sherpa.

Their findings brought us back to our roots: “Click here” is the most effective way to get someone to… well, click there. Marketing Sherpa tested their initial call to action (“Continue here…”) against three other options. This was the impact on their clickthroughs:

Here were the differences in clickthroughs:

  • “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.

Colors creating clickthroughs?

ConversionXL compiled a 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.

What does this mean for you?

Get testing! Just because text links work better for AWeber and red buttons beat green buttons in a few tests, doesn’t mean that either of these findings are what’s best for you.

Consider your audience, your objective, and your strategy to build your business. Make your call to action work for you!

Looking for more information about CTA?

We have a few more tests we can share with you on our blog here, to give you more ideas for your tests.

We also have an awesome guide to give you some more information about calls to action.

Don’t miss out…

We’ve discussed the numerous possibilities of split testing subject lines and sign up forms earlier this month.

Make sure you’re getting all our tips and tricks by subscribing to the blog!

Articles in the Split Testing?Series:

  1. How Split Testing Sign Up Forms Get More Subscribers
  2. How to Get Higher Email Opens By Split Testing Subject Lines
  3. How Split Testing Your CTA Will Boost Your Business?(this article)


  1. Justin

    6/21/2014 3:58 am

    I feel its useful for business and and get more ideas and inspiration of what to get for my business. Special thanks for providing the information.Doubling impersonation on your CTAs can extensively raise your website leads.

  2. Ravi

    6/23/2014 1:56 am

    True – having the perfect words and language on the CTA is so crucial. You don’t want to be pushy but still instigating at the same time.Words that ask for ‘too much too soon’ from the subscriber’s must be avoided as much as possible. Also, the color, size and placement of the CTA is pivotal in deciding the split test results. We have it elaborated on-

    Very relevant article, thank you !

  3. Hunter Boyle

    7/2/2014 10:04 am

    Hey Ravi, thanks for the feedback and link to a solid post on this topic. The balance of urgency and value vs. pushiness or “too soon” feel with CTAs is such an important area for testing. That’s the bridge between interest and action, so it’s worth a lot of extra focus in the testing queue. Keep up the great work!

    Cheers — Hunter

  4. Email Monks

    6/27/2014 9:44 am

    Thank you Katie, for the very thorough article!

    Indeed split testing various options of CTAs can help govern the CTR results. Testing CTAs with various variables and types can be fruitful. Also, we think split testing CTAs with different tones and design can help.

    Our article might be of interest to you: