Button Boost: How to Label and Design High-Converting Buttons

Your website visitor hovers over your button, deciding whether to click. It’s the moment of truth!

There’s a lot more to creating a high-converting button than simply getting the design right. Whether or not that button gets clicked depends on the button label, the text around the button, and even the content on the rest of your website.

This week on Hit Publish, I’ve invited three Copyblogger experts to share their best advice on creating buttons that work.

Tune in to hear from Chris Garrett, Brian Gardner, and Sonia Simone as we discuss:

  • The simple question that magically tells you what your button copy should say
  • Why the best button design might not be the most obvious, and how to figure out what works best for you
  • Why buttons are a “door” you want to invite your visitors to open

The Show Notes

Button Boost: How to Label and Design High-Converting Buttons

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

Pamela Wilson: Hi, it’s Pamela Wilson, and you’re listening to Hit Publish, where I cover simple ways to get better results with your online business.

Today we’re going to talk about buttons. Whether they’re on an opt-in page or a sales page, the button on the page is usually this big moment of truth. It represents the exact place in time and space where your prospect is going to decide whether or not to take action.

There’s a lot riding on that little piece of real estate. That’s why we want to focus on it today — it’s important to get your buttons right!

In today’s episode, you’ll hear the simple question that magically tells you what your button text should say. You’ll also hear about the best button design and why it might not be the most obvious. We’ll tell you how to figure out what design will work best for you. Finally, you’ll hear about this concept that buttons are really like a door that you want to invite your visitors to open.

I want to thank you for downloading this podcast, and I want to thank Rainmaker.FM for hosting it.

Are you ready to build buttons that convert? Let’s Hit Publish.

Hit Publish is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform, which handles all the technical elements of good online business practices, including design, content, traffic, and conversion. To check it out, head over to Rainmaker.FM/Platform right now, and get started building your online business.

Today’s episode starts with Chris Garrett who, between you and me, is kind of an optimization geek. Since we all need to write something on our buttons, I asked Chris to share how we can figure out what the text on our buttons needs to say.

The Simple Question That Magically Tells You What Your Button Copy Should Say

Chris Garrett: The first thing you need to work out is what the customer or the visitor wants to do. We tend to think about what the function of the button is — what does it do for us? But it’s actually more important that it speaks to a benefit or speaks to an action that the prospect or the customer is going to really resonate with.

Chris Garrett: I like to say, “What do they want to do as an action? What is the action they’re going to take for them rather than for us?”

On the Copyblogger blog, we had a really good article, I think by Joanna Weibe, and she said, “Complete the sentence: I want to ____”

I want to sign up. I want to join. I want to whatever now. I want to get in. I want to buy.

That’s a really good way of looking at it because it makes it customer focused or visitor focused, rather than what you want them to do.

That said, Brian has been using, very successfully, ‘Join us’ on his buttons. ‘Join us’ doesn’t fulfill the ‘I want to … ,’ but it does work. It does convert. I tend to use ‘Sign up.’ ‘I want to sign up’ works. Just don’t use ‘Submit.’ ‘I want to submit’ isn’t a very nice thing.

Pamela Wilson: Right. Who wants to say that? That’s great advice.

Chris Garrett: I’m sure there are communities out there that do, and I don’t like ‘subscribe’ very much. I don’t think ‘subscribe’ is very meaningful to people. Apple has been testing ‘get’ — ‘Get this’ on their app store. That works very well, and it’s short and snappy.

Pamela Wilson: Right.

Chris Garrett: I like it to fit the ‘I want to _____ ‘ That works really well. That resonates with me.

Pamela Wilson: Right. I’ll be sure to link to that article. That’s a great piece that Joanna wrote. It’s a great complement to what we’re talking about. It’s almost like you want the text to be a little aspirational. Like, “What are you aspiring to do?” ‘Join us’ fits with that way of thinking about it.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, and our ‘lizard brain,’ as she says, responds to things that are unusual or different. You don’t want to be the same as everybody else. It’s difficult when people say, “What should a button say?” It’s difficult to say, “Do what works for us,” because we don’t have your audience, but also, the more people do it, the less effective it’s going to be. I would always say, “See what works for your audience, what works for your offer and support that and try that out rather than just going with ‘always should be’ answers.”

Pamela Wilson: That’s a good thing to test, right? That’s something we should be testing.

Chris Garrett: Absolutely. You should split test everything that you are unsure of or everything that you want to improve.

It’s one of the great things about the web, that you can be continuously testing and improving. We get instant feedback. If you don’t have a great deal of traffic, if you are in a niche that doesn’t really respond very well, it may take a while, but it’s still worth doing. It’s still worth testing.

Pamela Wilson: Chris is saying forget about the button’s functions and focus instead on the action our customer is going to take, and to start with the phrase ‘I want to ___ ‘

Then when you fill in that blank, use whatever text that you use to fill in the blank for the copy on your button. I love this advice.

Brian Gardner is up next. Brian’s design vision is very influential at Copyblogger. I asked him, “What are the design considerations that we should keep in mind when it comes to the buttons on our websites?”

Why the Best Button Design Might Not Be the Most Obvious, and How to Figure Out What Works Best for You

Brian Gardner: That’s a great question, specifically because, with design, there’s a number of ways you can present something. Buttons are a great example of something that can be presented textual with a border, solid with a background, or gradient — which is a little bit on the older school side of design, but also on its way back.

Pamela Wilson: Talk to me more about these buttons with a border. I want to know what those look like and why we might want to use them.

Brian Gardner: Within the last year or so, there’s been a design trend called ‘ghost buttons.’ These are textual buttons with a border around them, typically the same color, and they sometimes work a lot better than you would think.

Pamela Wilson: I’d be afraid with a button like that, that people wouldn’t notice it, though.

Brian Gardner: See, that’s the point. Sometimes we get a little bit blind to the things that stand out and are a little bit over the top. Ghost buttons can actually convert very well because they’re more subtle and feels like a more natural way of accomplishing a call to action.

Pamela Wilson: It sounds like something we just need to test.

Brian Gardner: Yeah, split testing can very easily be done by assigning a class to a button to make it solid or a class to a button to become more of a ghost button. You can tell pretty quickly through split test, ultimately, which one converts better.

Pamela Wilson: It sounds like it’s not about designing buttons a certain way. It’s about finding the design that converts best for you.

Brian Gardner: Yeah, that’s correct. It sounds counterintuitive to under-design something, for lack of a better phrase, because it may still convert better.

Pamela Wilson: So it’s not so much that there is a perfect button design — it’s that you need to test whatever design you use.

Brian Gardner: Yeah. Like a lot of things in life, something might be a better fit for someone else. Just because other people use it or do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right solution for you.

Pamela Wilson: There’s that advice to test whatever we do again. Brian said there’s no universally perfect button design, but that we should try different options and just see what converts best.

We’re wrapping up today’s episode with Sonia Simone. I had a very specific question for Sonia because, you know, your buttons don’t exist in a vacuum.

There’s copy above the button. There’s copy next to the button. There’s copy after the button. All that copy is going to influence how your button performs.

I asked Sonia, “How should we handle the copy that’s around our buttons?”

Why Buttons Are a “Door” You Want to Invite Your Visitors to Open

Sonia Simone: I think what you’re getting at is the context that the button shows up in is probably more important than the button. The color or the wording, they matter, but if you can get the context right, that’s really what’s going to change the behavior of the person who’s doing that clicking.

It’s really about, for something like a button where you’ve already convinced the person that they want whatever you’re offering and it’s going to solve their problem — so those are two questions you have to get clear about — if you’re there but they’re still hesitating, you have to make sure that they trust you. You have to make sure that they trust that you’re a person who can solve this problem for them and that there is a solution on the other side of that click.

It’s about things like having what’s called ‘risk reversal content’ — things like your money-back guarantee — very close to the button so that if people are having that moment of a little bit of fearfulness, you can just help reassure them at that moment when they need to be reassured.

Pamela Wilson: So if they’re asking themselves, “What if this doesn’t work for me?” that lets them know that they have an out. They have a way to get their money back.

Sonia Simone: That’s right. Some people are a little nervous about offering the money back, but in most cases, you really want to go ahead and offer it. There are so many more people who are honest than are dishonest. The ones who are dishonest are going to find a way to sneak around you anyway. You really want what’s called ‘risk reversal content,’ which is just a copywriter’s way of talking about the guarantee, usually.

Also things like — if you remember — the Better Business Bureau. That can be a very good thing to put right there by that button, so they realize, “OK, this person’s is a member of a trusted organization.” Some of the organizations that make sure that the financial transactions are handled in a safe way, that can be a good badge to put there.

The real thing is just that all of your marketing has to create that feeling of trust. That comes from lots of places.

It comes from things like it can be really, really helpful to have your photo on your landing page. People don’t just feel like they’re sending money to some weird, anonymous Internet thing. They’re sending it to you, who’s a person, who has a smile and a face.

Things like having your business address — very, very helpful. Your business phone number, very helpful. Not everybody can make that work, but if you can, it really reassures people. They know, “OK, if something doesn’t go right here, I have some options. I’m not just stuck. I’m going to call my credit card and try and get my money back.”

Joanna Wiebe, who’s a wonderful, wonderful copywriter over at Copy Hackers, she’s the button queen. She’s really smart about buttons. She says that buttons are a door. They’re a door into another place that we haven’t seen yet. It’s a closed door. When we click the button, we open the door. You really want to think about, “How can I make sure that door feels like something safe to open, and not like something scary might be on the other side of it?”

It’s everything from very friendly, human-sounding language in your copy, your photo, business address, business phone if that works for you — it doesn’t work for everybody, and that’s OK — but anything you can do to make that door feel friendly and safe and inviting — like it’s something they want to go to the other side of. They don’t have that little bit of trepidation.

Pamela Wilson: It sounds like it’s all about the copy that’s in and around the button, but it’s also about everything else that’s on the page.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, absolutely. Things like dodgy design will make a person very hesitant about clicking a button. If the design is really dated or just feels really fly-by-night. You want to have a good, polished professional design.

Ideally, you would like to have lots of content on the site somewhere. Maybe not on the landing page because that needs to be focused. Ideally, they will have come to this page with this button on it, and they have some context.

Maybe they’ve read some blog posts, or they’ve seen some YouTube videos. They’ve heard some podcasts, or they’ve read some newsletter articles. They already have a feeling of trust with you. A feeling that they know who you are and what you stand for. They feel a good level of confidence that you’re somebody that they can trust.

Pamela Wilson: So build the trust long before you get them to the point that you’re presenting them with a button.

Sonia Simone: That is what will work so much better. I just can’t tell you. It’ll work so much better.

If you can create the environment of trust first and then make the offer, then you don’t have to be some kind of genius copywriter. You just have to plainly state how you can help and give them the opportunity to act.

Pamela Wilson: Well, and then you don’t have to ask your poor little button to do so much work.

Sonia Simone: Exactly. It’s just a little button. There’s only so much it can do.

Pamela Wilson: That’s right. Thank you so much, Sonia.

Sonia said it’s all about the context your buttons are found in, and that your buttons will get more clicks if the prospect actually trusts your business. There’s a lot you can do on the page to increase that trust.
Another thing Sonia mentioned is that buttons are like a door. We want to reassure our prospects that nothing scary is going to happen to them if they click that button. We should focus on building an environment of trust with all the pages on our website.

Chris, Brian, and Sonia seem to agree on one concept. Your buttons aren’t magic in and of themselves. They aren’t going to make or break your conversion rates. You’ll see what truly works when you begin testing your buttons. Once you have enough traffic to your pages, test button styles and copy against one another, so you can know for sure what’s working on your site.

Here are my questions for you. If you have buttons on your website, revisit them. See if the button text fills in the blank on the ‘I want to … ‘ phrase that Chris Garrett talked about.

Make sure, as Sonia said, that the rest of the elements around the button are helping to build trust, so your site visitors feel more comfortable clicking on the button.

These are things like your guarantee, your trust symbols, and the other content on the rest of your site. Remember, no one button is best. Test to find out what’s really working on your site and with your particular audience.

This is Pamela Wilson. I want to thank you for being a smart and good-looking Hit Publish subscriber.

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Bye until next time, and remember take action and Hit Publish.