Lady with megaphone

Designing Call to Action Buttons

The Content Marketing Institute is one of my go-to sources for practical tips on content strategy and content marketing. One of their core messages is that the long term objective of marketing should be to build an opt-in audience that values your communication. They therefore give you permission, often explicitly, to send them information and offers. This has become increasingly necessary because interruption marketing, such as pop-up ads and 30-second TV spots, are too easy for consumers to skip, block, or ignore by watching a different screen. Just look at what Apple is doing in iOS 9.

So when I received my daily email newsletter (which I happily opted into because of the high value of their content) with an article on call-to-action designs for users to subscribe to email newsletters, I figured it had to be good. After all, this is their bread and butter. The article shares 11 design ideas for designing call to action buttons. They warn that these ideas don’t stand alone – they need to be implemented in combination to get significant improvements.

Email is a whopping 40 times more powerful at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. On top of that, the average email-based order’s dollar value is 17% higher than social media channels.

My Take

My purpose today is not to share all 11. Some are well known good UX principles. Some are clearly not (sorry CMI). There are two that I am not sure about and I want to get your thoughts on them.

  1. One recommendation is for the text inside the button. Compare these options:
    • Sign Up – the generic and common text.
    • Sign Me Up – not much different, but a little more active and personal
    • Make me a better designer – describes the specific value proposition that signing up provides
    • Solve my design frustrations – describes the pain point that signing up eliminates



    Which of these do you think is best?

  2. Another recommendation is to pair the button with an opt-out button that uses loss aversion as a negative motivator.
    • Yes, sign me up | No, I like when my designs fail



    In my persuasive design work, I recommend against using loss aversion. Even if it delivers short results, it creates a strained relationship rather than an engaged one. I worry that would happen with this technique.

Your Turn

What do you think of these two design ideas? Do you think they are effective choices for a call to action button for opt-in subscriptions?

Image Credit: mickyroo

3 thoughts on “Designing Call to Action Buttons”

  1. 1. I think become a better designer is the proper motivation for designers. It speaks to their need to be the best at their craft to be respected and admired. (I’m a designer)

    2. Humour might be a good way to improve upon loss aversion. I have not seen it done well, but it would be cool to test.

  2. A more neutral version I have seen for the loss aversion version is “No, I am happy with the results I am getting.” Since no one should ever be satisfied, there is an implied loss for not subscribing.

  3. #1 = They’re ALL Right. The justification argument is in “CTA’s : ~Useful Redundancy” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ctas-useful-redundancy-john-vaughan

    #2 = Averse to Loss Aversion. I agree that this frames the CTA negatively … and that’s not good.

    As with all good UX – Context is everything. There are situations in which a particular value proposition is most appropriate (i.e. “loss aversion” = good), but the generalizations hold true.

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