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Thursday, May. 24, 2007 at 8:31 am

Push Your Customers’ Buttons

By Bryan Eisenberg
May 24th, 2007

click my buttonPlease let me know the last time you got to an e-commerce website, found something you were really interested in, looked at the “add to cart” button and said to yourself, “Oh, that button is hunter green. If it was chartreuse, I would definitely click it.”

GetElastic performed an analysis of the top 111 retail websites. They found that 15% of them use red as their button color. What should we learn from this? Nothing! Red is a color that stands out, unless you are red/green color blind.

A more significant finding is that companies imitate one another without a deeper understanding of context. Please don’t follow the herd. Red may not be the best color for your button to stand out with on your website. What most people associate with the color red is stop, danger, etc.

So how many of the top converting websites actually use red buttons?

Take a look at the buttons of the top converting websites to see what they have in common (read my analysis below the image):

topconvertingbuttons.jpg

What these buttons have in common is that they live on pages of websites people trust that have products people want to buy.

People over-think button testing. Am I saying you shouldn’t have a button that stands out? No! As variables, buttons alone don’t get people to buy. They are tiny components of the persuasion process.

My Button Advice
1. You do need a button that people can see. Buttons must be visible so use shape, color, contrast, etc. to make them pop.
2. It needs to be obvious that they’re intended to be clicked, so you can use something like a 3D effect or shadowing to help make the point.
3. Optionally, you may include benefit statements or point of action assurances with the button.

Persuasion and improving conversion need to be about getting at the heart of what makes your customers want to buy. You may get a lift from testing buttons, so do it. However, if buttons are where you’re spending your energy, you’ll pay the price. Do you really want to push your customer’s buttons? If so, then work on testing variables that illustrate what your customers value most.

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Comments (24)

  1. Good post Brian. Our intent with the button post was that of a general interest piece. I agree that buttons won’t close a deal, but I do think they can hinder the experience. Urban Outfitters comes to mind. I go to that site and still struggle finding the add to cart button easily. Do you guys have any conversion metrics on testing buttons? Not so much color, because I agree, color shouldn’t make a huge effect – but size, shape, iconography etc.?

  2. Jason,

    Thank you. We used to spend time testing buttons but haven’t done excessive testing of buttons since about 2000. We spent a lot of time testing variables until we came up with the ones that impacted conversion the most. Out of this, is where we came up with Persuasion Architecture. The key to conversion is ultimately relevance (each and every click must be planned in order to be relevant) and relevance matters by who you are talking to and where they are in their buying process (personas).

  3. Thnx for the advice Bryan. We are thinking of adopting your conversion architecture method and introducing it to the Netherlands. I have put your button advice in practice on our website. And in a control experiment with Google Website Optimizer measured a 121% improvement. I posted an article about it on our weblog usabilityweb.nl. It is in dutch but seeing the images you can get the idea.

    - the three versions (http://www.usabilityweb.nl/gfx/drieversies.gif)
    - results of the original and combination 1 (http://www.usabilityweb.nl/gfx/controlexperiment.gif)

  4. An interesting article, which I think stops short of where it could have gone – such as placement of buttons. Even good buttons can be hard to find.

    What about the concept of multiple buttons located at different points on the page to suit the different buyer personas?

    Does a buy button directly under the product image get clicked more than one at the ‘logical’ place – the bottom of the page at the end of the product description? Would it be better to have both?

  5. Bryan,

    The last button MVTs we did showed color as the most important factor so I must disagree on the value of color testing. I KNOW it is important. How best to test what makes your button stand out as you righfully advise?

    RPV increase from these test (product listing page and product page) were both over 14%. RPV! Over 2 million tested visits.

    Oh, one winner was red, the other was sory of magenta. The second time in a row we’ve seen a cross-page color effect. We’re starting to test that as well.

    Cheers,

    Jonathan

  6. Jonathan

    What draws people to a button is primarily desire followed by the ability to find the call to action which in retail is determined (in no particular order) by color, contrast, shape, content, placement and context. I think your tests may be showing you that color is most important. I simply don’t know what exactly you are testing for besides the look of the button. Top converting sites don’t always have red buttons and most wouldn’t benefit much from the change to a red button. Perhaps changing their button might give them an incremental lift; but I wouldn’t invest the time though. Am I saying not to test buttons? No! We test them all the time. Let me repeat that they are simply not the most important factor in increasing your conversion rate.

    Do you buy more from a site BECAUSE the button is red? Button color doesn’t influence buyer motivation. We would be focusing our tests on what makes you want to buy more. It’s a much better use of precious time and resources.

    Please read this post.

    I hope that helps you and your clients.

    Jeffrey

  7. [...] people are stuck on improving their online conversion rate with tactics–like button testing–alone . The problem is that, in order to really boost conversion, you need to sell in the way [...]

  8. [...] get a head-start on the competition, here are some of our favorite landing page & testing resources. Good luck! Technorati Tags: AB Testing, [...]

  9. [...] Don't ask people to submit. Call to action buttons should clearly state the action they're about to take. Use colors and shading that make the [...]

  10. So, what is the best wording for the final, submit my order button that takes them to the order confirmation page?

    ‘Place my Order’
    ‘Submit my Order’

    or something else?

    I would really be interested to hear this?

    thanks………

  11. good point audio. comes down to reassurance.

  12. we have not tried yet shadowing or 3 D effect. I think we need to test it sometime soon.

  13. [...] ask people to submit. Call to action buttons should clearly state the action they’re about to take. Use colors and shading that make the button stand out effectively and, please, try to not use the [...]

  14. Excellent article , I think ‘Submit my Order’ is the best word or do you have another suggestion ? thanks

  15. I guess if you make a button saying “do not push this button” you’ll get almost every one to press it.

  16. Hi ,

    We’ve just created a list of “Checkout Buttons” :) I hope you’ll find it interesting.
    You can see the list on the Checkout Buttons page, as long with some interesting statistics about them.

    Cheers,
    Traian

  17. great article. I actually designed some new ones recently.

  18. [...] course 15% of the top converting websites use red buttons so although you can start off by copying Facebook it’s more about testing & branding in [...]

  19. Great tip.

    Thank you so much.

  20. i agree, a red button would be more effective, i’m changing our apply now to red

  21. Wonderful blog, some fascinating points. I remember 2 of days ago, I have visited a similar post.

  22. Wonderful blog, some fascinating points. I remember 2 of days ago, I have visited a similar post.

  23. bright colors that stand out are important

  24. Great article , I think shadowing or 3 D effect would be nice.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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