Last Updated on March 23, 2021
I was recently asked this question about call to action button labels on an expert forum:
Here is the question someone posted:
I have a dispute with my colleague about the call to action text on the website. I propose we use such text as “Register me” or “Sign me up” and she says that sounds very marketing and insists to keep using simply “Register” or “Sign up”. What would you suggest? What is your experience on that?
Here is a screenshot of the site in question, I blurred some info for privacy reasons, but the sign up email fields and button labels are clearly visible. But basically the scenario is that this start-up is trying to entice people to pre-register for their upcoming site launch.
A common question around sign up forms
- Our experience A/B testing a number of approaches in the last years is that people are becoming very sensitive and have developed a “marketing speak” radar, a sort of “banner blindness” for opt-ins.
I heard someone call it “whisker-free”, as in: If a mouse senses any cat whiskers around, it won’t go for the cheese:)
So the question becomes on how to craft a more “whisker free” incentive to sign up.
A wider perspective from an inbound content marketing view
And IMO more important than the label of the actual button, I would consider approaching this from a inbound content marketing perspective.
- Can you offer something in return for signing up, a give away like offering a free e-book download or a single page resources guide pdf that fits your market?
- Or, for a new site launching soon (which was the case here), can one craft an early-bird discount for pre-launch subscribers?
This sort of a “lead magnet” will entice people to opt in, and receive something of value in return, while also signing up to your launch notification list. Our data shows this increases sign ups by an order of magnitude.
Email address fields have “whiskers”
Also our experience is also that if you show the actual sign up fields (name, email etc.) on the same screen as the “Sign Up” button, conversions are worse than if you just show a button only, followed by a modal pop up box. Surprisingly this converts better, I suspect because the email sign up fields are hidden at first, and by the time that people see a modal box, there is no easy way “back”, and they are more committed to filling out the submission form.
The psychology behind this is that it presents a choice in a way where visitors are forced to make a decision about the opt-in, and this alone increases opt-in rates by up to 30%.
- So I would recommend replacing any form with email signup fields with a single button that triggers a modal pop-up.
In that case the button label would be something like “Download your free e-book”, or “Don’t Miss Our Launch!”, or “Save 30% – Pre-Launch Discount”etc.
The case for A/B testing
No matter the approach, I would also look into A/B test the button language to try out different approaches. If going with the existing layout, ultimately for me the difference between “Sign Up” and Sign me up” is mostly a more casual tone vs. the formal approach. So my vote would be for the more casual, (more whisker-free) “Sign me up”. A/B Testing can be done easily with sites like Optimizely. I will post some tools for lead magnet delivery as well as pop-up options in the coming days.
Even the little things matter
Surprisingly even the addition of a small arrow on the button can make a difference, we have found a 8-10% increase with a small directional arrow present on the button layout.
And of course, color matters as well. Not surprisingly opt in buttons that have a contrasting color from the rest of the surrounding design convert better. Sites going for a minimalistic sleek look often choose button colors that are harmonized with their surrounding elements, but this does not convert nearly as well, and makes an entire site a little bit to use from a UX perspective.
UX vs Marketing
Lastly a comment about usability vs marketing, which can be, and usually are, at odds.
From a usability perspective, one might think that a modal pop-up approach results in more clicks, and therefore one should display the email field directly on a landing page.
I think this often comes down to personal choice, and the above approach is nothing like a “dark UX” or “anti-pattern” to trap unsuspecting users into signing up for something they did not mean to. So we must find a balance between our marketing based desire to convert, and our UX desire to create great user experiences.