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Write clear, high-performing buttons

Never again fall victim to the lazy-mans calls to action
Move from calls to action to calls to value
Stop writing conversion-killing buttons that suggest work
Remove the most common sources of friction holding back your buttons
Add meaningful click triggers to your buttons
Not wear a blank stare when someone mentions the Belcher Button to you
Get more visitors to watch your videos
Help more visitors understand your screenshots
Never call your visitors visitors again (at least when youre writing buttons)

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

1. A Brief Introduction to Calls to Action .................................................................................. 4
2. Not Buttons But Closed Doors ............................................................................................ 12
3. Why & How to Create Your Buttons for the Lizard Brain................................................ 24
4. The Click-Boosting Secret: Click Triggers ............................................................................ 34
5. How to Get People to Fill In Your Sign-Up Fields and Watch Your Demos ........................ 44


Joanna Wiebe is the original conversion copywriter and a messaging strategist specializing in persuasive
writing that turns visitors into happy, repeat customers. Since 2003, she has been writing, editing &
proofreading online and offline copy and designing interactions for tech companies as well as startups.
She also consults and teaches writing for professionals. She holds an MA in Communications &
Technology with specialization in persuasion in ecommerce environments.
The co-founder of Disco Surveys, Joanna lives with her hub-bub in Victoria, British Columbia.
Twitter: @copyhackers


Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

A call to action is not just a button. Or a text link.
A call to action is the representation of your page goal and your visitors goal
A call to action is the point at which all the work youve done to overcome objections,
reflect your visitors motivations, and highlight the value of your solution comes together in
a single action your visitor should take. It is the point at which conversion is enacted. It
doesnt convert; it facilitates the act of converting whether converting means clicking to
the next page (i.e., micro-conversion) or doing something more significant, like signing up
for a newsletter, signing up for a trial, sharing with a friend or buying.
But just because your button isnt actively converting people doesnt mean that your button
cant get in the way of or better help conversions.
Your visitors cannot convert online without clicking a button.
In most cases, your visitors will not convert online before theyve clicked a series of buttons.
Which means your call to action, most commonly represented on the page as a button, can
make or break your page. Can make or break your conversion rate. Can make or break your
business. Alas, take it seriously.
Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

In this conversion copywriters experience, calls to action are the second-most important
element on a page, right after headlines.


As a solid rule of thumb, do not get too clever with your buttons. Rather, keep these
principles in mind when youre ready to write a button:

Lead with a known, familiar verb

Use articles (e.g., the, a) or prepositions (e.g., for) to avoid sounding robotic
Be specific with your word choice rather than generic
Speak to something your prospect greatly desires
Consider the page youre driving to and the headline on that page

If you can swing it without sounding aggressive, it can help to suggest instant gratification
by tacking on words like Today, Now, Instantly or In Seconds.
Here are a few of my favorite buttons featuring copy you could easily swipe or A/B test.
They follow the above 5 principles, in most cases, with a little extra oomph. (2014)
Speak to both the act of proceeding and the value of it. (2014)
Make a compelling case! Your button doesnt have to stand alone on your site. (2011)

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

Add a visual that drives home what theyre trying to get, and speak to instant gratification.


You are the rare exception if you dont have the following buttons on your site. These
buttons represent the average starting point for a button but they are not optimized, and
they are not ideal. In most cases, theyre either the button copy that came with a theme
or theyre the product of an uninspired mind that doesnt understand how important calls
to action are for conversion
If youve seen Crazy Stupid Love, you may recognize the line, Be better than the Gap.
Allow me to swipe and slightly modify that line: Be better than Sign Up Now. Do not use
the following:

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

Whats so wrong with all of those calls to action?

Youll find out as you read through this ebook. In fact, by the end of it, Im quite certain
youll be able to quickly assess buttons like the above and know exactly why a good copy
hacker would never settle for such lackluster, valueless crud.
But rather than make you wait another 45 or so pages, heres a shortlist of the problems
with those calls to action:

They dont suggest or speak to the value of taking an action

They dont reflect the visitors motivation or goal
They imply work without giving a reason why the work is worth it
Similarly or identically colored / treated buttons, put on the same page in close
proximity, make it difficult for the prospect to know which button to choose

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

And in the case of Case Studies, hello? People who want to see case studies are
usually warm leads so why would you be so pathetic about engaging them?


Heres a phrase I shared in my talk at Copybloggers Authority Intensive in 2014:
Dont amplify the act of proceeding.
Amplify the value of proceeding.
That quote got tweeted quite a bit, and Dharmesh Shah added it to Inbound as a favorite
and then invited me to speak at his Inbound Conference.
Think Im name dropping there? I sort of am. But Im also trying to leverage Dharmeshs
authority plus the social proof that is smart people tweeting my quote in the hopes that
you will take what Im about to tell you quite seriously. Because what youre going to
learn may dramatically improve the way you think about calls to action.
The problem with so many calls to action, including the ones Ive asked you to rise above, is
that theyre amplifying the act of proceeding rather than the value of it.
People know that a button signifies the act of proceeding.
(Those who dont know are rare exceptions, unless your market is new to the web.)
People rarely need to be reminded that clicking a button will let them view a demo or
submit a form or sign up or get more information (i.e., learn more). What they instead
need to be reminded of is the value of proceeding. The reason to proceed. The benefit or
amazingness theyll get when they click the button and move forward. What, of real value,
is in it for them?
Consider this button from the sign-up page of (2014):

This button is speaking to the act of moving forward. You will be able to try Schedulicity
free if you click this button. Thats fine. Thats a call to action. But you can do better.
Now consider this button, which we tested against the above Control:

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

This button is speaking to the value of moving forward. You will be able to end your
scheduling hassles if you click this button.
What would you rather do? Try something free, or put an end to a hassle youve been
struggling with? In the case of Schedulicitys audience, 24% more people clicked on the call
to value: End My Scheduling Hassles.
Heres how I wrote the calls to value on (2014). Both could have
been Sign Up Now, but instead they highlight the value of proceeding:

Takeaway? Where possible, dont amplify the act of proceeding. Amplify the value of it.
Exception? Buttons repeat visitors and power-users use, like in-app and Sign In.


Its impossible
positioning a
the right point on your page is critical for conversion.

to know! I
you test it,
call to action at

Heres an idea that Hiten Shah was kind enough to share with me, an idea Ive shared out
only recently. As of May 2014, on the one-pager site that is the very onepager Ive been part of optimizing Hiten replaced all the calls to action that used to be
scattered down the page with this single fixed call to action bar:

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

With that bar, the call to action is always within reach for a visitor. Its always fixed in the
same spot at the top of the window. So theres no guesswork for your visitor when theyre
convinced enough to give Crazy Egg a shot and theres no guesswork for Hiten as to where
to place a button on a page. Its always-already present.
Hiten has said that this is responsible for significant increases in revenue for his business.
Im not at liberty to say the number, but its large enough that I now cant help but
recommend every SaaS startup do their best to try to incorporate it, or a version of it, in
their one-pager site or across their site.


Although headlines are right up there on the list of copy elements to test, calls to action are
just as critical because they are, of course, the single piece of content with which you need
the majority of your visitors to interact. They need to be clicked.
You can quickly find out if a button or text link is effective by testing variations.
Calls to action are generally very easy to test (with free and low-cost testing tools, like
VWO). Thats because theyre so contained, compared to testing, say, tone, and conversions
are directly tied to them. Swap one design for another, or swap copy on each design.


For the key landing pages on your site, complete the button questionnaire on the next
page. Edit the copy you generate until it sounds fluid and could work effectively as a call to
action or, better yet, you could A/B test immediately.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action


Print this page from your PDF copy, or visit for a full selection of printable
worksheets, including this one.

1. What is the specific action your visitor is about to take? This should be a verb.
2. After clicking this button, what page will the user land on? Consider the headline of
that landing page when crafting this call to action.
3. What is the value of proceeding? What will the visitor get out of clicking this button?
Once you have completed all three of the above questions, you will have the core of your
call to action button (or even text link). Remember to lead with the verb/action word. Your
next step is to work the copy so that it sounds fluid rather than robotic.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

You know whats not scary? A button.
We snack on tasty things called chocolate buttons. We say things like, Oh, thats as cute as
a button! Our moms have big, friendly jars of colorful buttons that we used to like to play
with and sort, bringing us hours of great joy in organizing them by size, color, shape,
material and uniqueness. (Or was that just me?)
The word button isnt associated with anything scary.
Which is why Im recommending that, when it comes time for you to write a button, you
dont think of it as a button. Dont call it that in your head. Because if you do, youll never
appreciate just how terrifying buttons can be for your visitors
Instead, call a button a closed door.
You are about to learn how to optimize your closed doors so more people open them.


People who are new or relatively new to your site are like people who are in a strange, dark
building looking for an item thats hidden behind a closed door. These people dont quite

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

know which door the item is behind. How much (or little) they desire the item theyre
seeking will impact their willingness to open one or more closed doors to find it.
Think of all the things that could be behind a closed door:

A fire you didnt know was burning, which gusts out when you open the door
A lion
A creepy dude that attacks you
A drug dealer the police are about to raid
Another door
A staircase to a dark, eerie basement

Now, in most cases, nothing bad will actually be behind a closed door. But there is so much
anxiety and fear associated with the unknown contents of a room that opening the closed
door has become a key moment of suspense in the books we read and the films we watch.
When people dont know whats on the other side, they get anxious.
Thats true for closed doors.
And its true for buttons.
Think of all the things that could be on the other side of a button:

A new site that will fill your screen with pop-ups

A page that isnt what the button copy promised
A form youll have to complete / Work youll have to do
A paywall or barrier to getting what you thought you were about to get
Another series of buttons to choose from

And what if you cant find your way back once you click a button? Will the link open in a
new window? Will it take you to a new site? Is everything secure on the next page? Am I the
only one whos ever clicked this button? Am I the first person to consider trusting these
guys? Is there a better option out there, one I should go look for instead?

Neutralize Anxieties in General

We tested the theory of buttons-as-doorways on the sign-up page for
(2013). The button copy stayed the same across the three variations we tested, including
the Control, but we added anxiety-reducing messaging, known as click-triggers, alongside
the two new variations.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action


Variation B:

Variation C:

Variation B used a click-trigger meant to reduce anxieties around being the first or only
person ever to use the solution in question.
Variation C used two click triggers, the first of which addressed the anxiety of the unknown
(i.e., Will I have to pay?) and the second of which drove home the value of proceeding, as
discussed in the last chapter.
Both variations trended above the Control, and Variation C beat the Control with a 34%
increase in clicks (99% confidence). If you can neutralize anxieties and amplify value, you
may see more people opening more doors.

Minimize a Friction-y Anxiety: The Sense of Work

A lot of buttons lead to new steps in flows on websites, and each of those steps may have a
certain level of work associated with it. For example, you may have a button that leads
people to a sign-up form; sign-up forms are rife with work and, as such, are often enemies
of conversion.
People dont need or want to be reminded that theyre about to do work.
Even if they are about to do work, they dont need to be told.
A key anxiety people have is whether, when they open the closed door, life is going to get
easier or harder for them. Again, the fear of the unknown introduces risk, and risk is a chief
Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

source of anxiety. We need to minimize the fear of the unknown not by being 100%
honest about the work that follows but rather by soothing worries about it
What that really means is this: Dont write button copy that suggests work will follow.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Compare these 2 buttons, which we tested against each other on (2014):

Which one suggests work is going to follow? Which one suggests life may get a little harder
after you click it?
Our test found that 15% fewer people clicked on Add It to WordPress Now than clicked
on Try It Free Now. People dont like work. Even if they have to do the work, which they
had to do in both cases on the following page, they dont like the reminder or warning.
Oh, and if youre thinking that those who clicked Add It to WordPress Now were better
leads who were more willing to work, sorry, youre wrong. (I was wrong about that, too.) In
fact, of those who clicked through, fewer completed installation when theyd clicked Add It
to WordPress Now.
To reduce anxieties, considering wording your button copy or adding supporting lines of
copy, called click triggers (which we discuss later), that address:
What is going to happen on the next page (e.g., Youre just 1 step away from backing
up all your data securely)
What isnt going to happen on the next page (e.g., No salesperson will call, No credit
card required)
Numbers of other people who are already using your solution
Influential organizations that are already using your solution
Whether a download or install is or is not required
How quickly theyre about to get what they want
If its a free trial, and how long the trial is
Guarantees or promises, like money-back guarantees and privacy guarantees
Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

How secure your service is

Your credibility (indicated often by BBB ratings and similar third-party credentials)
What existing users have to say about it (e.g., star ratings, testimonial)
For social sign-in like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, additional anxieties to address at the
point of conversion include:

Whether or not youll post on their behalf

If their friends will see that theyve signed up for your service
What their friends will or wont see
How secure your service is

You dont necessarily have to add more than 1 of these anxiety-reducers. Test to be sure.
And, of course, repeating the value of proceeding is another great way to keep anxieties at
bay: an irrational fear of a lion attacking can be quashed by the reality of solving a problem.
Here are some great examples to inspire you. (2014) (2014) (2014)

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

From my wireframe; page not built at time of writing (2014) (2014) (2014)

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action


Unless theyre accompanied by considerable hype from highly influential, credible sources,
new businesses of any kind online or off are inherently anxiety-inducing for
Think of your bank. Would you consider leaving your current bank to start an account with a
brand new one with low interest rates on credit and high returns on savings if that bank
was only online and headquartered somewhere youd never heard of?
Would you switch from keeping receipts in a shoebox to saving them online if you thought
the online tool might scrape your receipts for data?
Would you switch from Instagram to a new photo sharing service if you werent sure your
privacy was protected on the new service site?
When youre brand new or even new-ish the perception of the value you offer needs
to overcome the fear of loss for every single visitor youre trying to convert. And there are
a LOT of things that people have to lose. Anxieties are related to much more than simply
handing over ones hard-earned money.
Weve talked about a few anxieties. And its impossible to list every possible one. But, in the
interest of getting your juices flowing so you can begin to consider the possible anxieties of
your potential customers, here are some worry-inspired questions people ask of startup
sites questions you need to answer if you want to get your buttons clicked:

How long has this company been around?

Where are these people located?
Are they still based out of a garage, or is this a legit business?
Are these guys going to go out of business in a year, after Ive uploaded all my
photos to their site, tagged them and invited my friends?
Sure, they dont charge for their service now, but are they going to?
I know they say this is free, but doesnt free just mean watered-down crap?
I have no idea what country these guys operate out of, but since their English copy
sounds like the stuff of a second language, should I hand over my credit card or
personal details?
If I install this free download, am I really installing a virus or spyware?
If I email my friends invitations to this site, is the site going to start spamming them?
When I sign up using my Facebook account, how much data am I transferring to this

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

When I sign up using my Facebook account, will all my friends see? Even worse, will
this company try to reach out to my friends?
Is there no other way to create an account but to use my Facebook account?
Why do I need to create an account at all?
How secure is my secure account?
Do I have to sign up for a contract, or can I cancel if I dont like it?
Is it easy to transfer my data if I upgrade or downgrade?
Can more than one person use this account, or do I have to pay per user?
If I import data from Outlook / QuickBooks / Photoshop, will they end up using that
data in some sort of industry report?
Is this company even licensed to sell the brand-name products they sell? How do I
know these arent all knock-offs?
If I give my credit card for this trial, will they tell me to cancel before I get charged?
What dont I know that I need to know?


Conduct a simple competitor content audit to see exactly what kind of anxieties your
competitors are trying to overcome in their copy. (Refer to Copy Hackers Book 1: Where
Stellar Messages Come From for help with content audits.) At minimum, you should be
addressing the same anxieties your competitors do.
Even better, hire a few people on, and, in the task you create for them, ask
them to speak to the worries that are keeping them from a) moving forward in your funnel
and b) converting. If you dont have a site yet, hire those users to walk through the sites of
your competitors. This can be extremely revealing.
Also, consider a solution like, which Lance Jones (co-founder of Copy Hackers)
created to get natural visitors to provide feedback about a site directly on the site. Check it
out users can draw lines around the part of a page that troubled them most and even give
you written feedback about the concerns it raised for them.
Marketing Experiments (2007) conducted a test for a client in the investor services industry.
Theyd determined that the companys trustworthiness was a source of anxiety for visitors,
so they used testimonials, third-party credibility indicators, message personalization and
satisfaction guarantee click-triggers to overcome those anxieties.
When they tested the anxiety-reducing page against the control, the test (recipe B)
increased sign up for the companys newsletter by an astounding 70.5%.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

Additional Techniques for Neutralizing Anxieties

Group copy about your money-back guarantee with credible credit card logos.

Group company info like location and user base together in clear, visual ways that
reduce multiple anxieties at once.

Offer multiple sign-in options to reduce anxiety around choosing just one.

Address anxieties about data management and ownership.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

Support free trial offers with whats included in the trial (e.g., full access, support), the
length of the trial and whether a credit card is required to get started or not.

Show and tell visitors that your sign-up process is nothing to fret over.

Increase trust in your site by showing proof of security.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action


For the primary calls to action on the key landing pages on your site, identify the greatest
anxieties associated with clicking to move forward. Draft short copy to help you neutralize
those anxieties at the point of each button.
Can you craft better button copy that will make more visitors feel comfortable opening a
closed door? Can you add supporting copy alongside those buttons or as a second line in
those buttons to achieve that goal?

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action


Print this page from your PDF copy, or visit for a full selection of printable
worksheets, including this one.

PAGE: ____________________________________________
CALL TO ACTION: ___________________________________
LANDING PAGE: ____________________________________

Possible Anxiety

Copy to Neutralize It

Certainty That
This Is an
(High, Med, Low)

PROPOSED CALL TO ACTION: ___________________________

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action

Use On or

I want you to do something. Its going to happen in your head dont worry I wont make
you stand up and dance a jig. Although, actually, now that I mention it
Nevermind. Do this in your head:
Visualize a lizard.
A lizard. Like a gecko or some other slimy, scurrying thing with goggly eyes. Its green or its
blue and spotted. Its a lizard. Keep the lizard with you from now on, whenever you look at
a button or a page.
Because you need to design and position your button to speak to the lizard brain, that
ancient part of our minds technically known as the amygdala but more popularly, especially
in marketing circles, called the lizard brain. The lizard brain:

Protects you from harm

Reacts to noticeable stimuli, like noise and bright, shiny objects
Ensures your survival
Registers hunger, fear, anger
Cant read

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The lizard brain is far older than literacy. Your lizard brain doesnt read or think rationally or
intellectualize. It reacts and resists. Countless studies show this, and popular books discuss
it. (Ahem.)
We just talked about the importance of seeing your buttons not as buttons but as closed
doors, and youre sold or youre pretending to be sold on the idea that a button
introduces a world of anxieties that must be neutralized in order for a visitor to click.
Now, just as I asked you to think of buttons as closed doors, I want you to think of your
visitors as lizards.
Not always!
And not in a negative way.
Just when youre designing and positioning your buttons.
Why would I ask you to simplify your complex, thinking, beautiful human visitor into a
reactive lizard? For exactly the reasons I just listed: because humans are complex, thinking
Visitors, you see, are humans with high intellectual capacity.
That makes them above buttons. Smarter than buttons. Smarter than the mistakes we
make with buttons. When we think of visitors as uber-smart human beings like ourselves
(and we are all very smart, arent we?), we end up with tiny grey buttons that read, Submit
Form because, well, a human can make sense of that.
But what would a lizard do with a small, grey button that reads Submit form?
Nothing at all.
Because a lizard cant read. And unless the grey is in stark contrast to everything else on the
page, the lizard wont notice blendy, bland buttons.
Dont write or design buttons for visitors. Instead, make buttons for lizards.


Just as anxiety keeps your visitor from clicking, so does friction at the site of our buttons
keep your lizard brain from easier decision-making. Friction keeps our lizard brain from
spotting a button and from trusting that button. We need to ask ourselves, What would a
lizard do?
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Calls to Action

What would a lizard click?

What would a lizard look at?
Would a lizard be able to a) find my button, b) recognize it as a thing to click and c) click it?
Youd be amazed at how simply reducing friction for the lizard brain can boost conversion.
Which of these 3 buttons, from (2014), would attract a lizards eye?

Remember, the lizard brain is far, far older than our thinking brain. Its far, far older than
literacy. It doesnt read; it looks.
Which button would attract a lizards eye?
How about in this example:

When we tested this in 2013, we found that the variation with the green button brought in
81% more clicks on the green button
This button color test shows that your visitors are not just thinking human beings. They
respond to stimuli in ways that are IRRATIONAL. That we could actually get 81% more
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people to click on the button just because it looks different from the other 2 buttons says
Now this may look like a button color test, but its not simply that.
Its a Lizard Brain Test.
Its a test of contrast, which is a powerful persuasive strategy that simplifies decisionmaking. In this case, it was contrast within the brand color palette for Acuity Scheduling,
which is black, grey and green.
Now how does the lizard brain react when you go outside the brand color palette, like in
this case:

When we tested this variation, we saw 95% more clicks on the orange button. Contrast is
what a lizard brain craves. Contrast is what your visitors crave. It will help them make
decisions much faster with less thinking
Now, still on the topic of Not visitors but lizards, another question to ask when placing
your buttons is, Where would a lizard click?
Not a visitor a lizard.
On the next page is a small snapshot of the very busy home page for (2013):

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Calls to Action

The detail of this page isnt as important as the overall takeaway from looking at it: its very
busy. There are, in fact, no buttons. And outside of a few spots of orange and red, it was
hard to know if a lizard would have a freakin clue what to click on.
We knew that the most-visited pages were Cycling and Running, for men and for women.
So we added those 4 buttons to the page, as youre about to see. But 4 buttons is a lot for a
lizard to make sense of. So we:
Divided the 4 buttons into the 2 option sets: one set for men, one set for women
o That allowed the lizard brain to decide quickly based on the most obvious
criteria: male or female which was supported by images
Made the buttons within those option sets 2 different colors, to further help the
lizard brain
Did our best to keep the designs of the 2 option sets quite similar so as not to throw
off the lizard brain
Take a look at the buttons we added (on the next page).

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See them? Its likely your lizard brain would if you were visiting this site in search of
something you desire like cycling or running gear.
By adding these buttons to the page, we increased visits to Cycling for Men by 96.6% and to
Running for Men by 104.5%. (The buttons for women trended above the Control but didnt
reach significance.) All we had to do was help that unthinking, reactive, illiterate lizard brain
better narrow down its options so it could decide on a place to click...
Now you might say, Joanna, of course youre going to see a lift! You put buttons where
they werent before. To which Id say Yeah? Exactly.
This isnt about making genius changes. This is about a) knowing where your visitors WANT
to go, and b) making it easy for them to get there by helping their lizard brain out.
We need explicit, easy to recognize calls to action.
Help your visitor make a decision by putting their options clearly on the page.

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let your design aesthetic or brand masters get in the way of conversion. Not only is the
call to action here a mere text link, but its not even underlined, which would be a cue for
your lizard brain that its at least clickable.

keep the number of options small, if you can, as we did on the
pricing page, bringing in three-digit CTR lift on all 3 buttons.

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be blendy-blendy. Who are you serving by making your button
the same color as the background?

increase friction by not only putting 2 buttons on a landing page but also
making them the exact same size and color.

make your button big and front-and-center, with eye-catching images
and arrows, like (2014) does here.

go outside your brand color palette, as (2014) does here, to
help lizard brains instantly spot the call to action.

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Calls to Action


Perry Belcher ( has tested the following button design in over
10,000 cases evidently always with stellar results against the control. He has said that, in
split tests, this button has increased conversions by 35 to 320%. We now refer to this style
of button as The Belcher Button:

You may not like it, but you may want to test it. The key is to test while keeping the
elements you see as they are. Red-dotted outline, big discount with strikethrough and copy,
2 styles of add to cart, and 4 credit cards.
The only way to find out if its visual aggressiveness attracts more lizard brains than it turns
off is to test it for yourself.


For every button on your site, complete the worksheet on the following page to identify any
issues that may be introducing friction for the lizard brain of your visitors.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action


Print this page from your PDF copy, or visit for a full selection of printable
worksheets, including this one.

INSERT BUTTON IN QUESTION HERE (ideally with some of the page for context):

This button is colored outside my brand color palette, boosting noticeability

This button is not grey (which can suggest to the lizard brain its unclickable)
If used alongside other buttons, this button is easy to contrast with those
This button is easy to acquire / large to easily click
This button uses attention-grabbing iconography or imagery
Ive added sufficient whitespace to separate this button from other elements on
the page
A lizard could easily tell that this is a button
This button does not appear spammy (which can chase lizards away)

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If youve ever watched a western movie with a duel scene, you know that duelers hold their
hands just an inch or so above their pistol. Their hands hover. Their fingers wiggle. They
seem to be itching to pull out their Colt 45 and shoot.
The same is true for people browsing a website except the gun is the mouse.
If theyre at a computer, they keep their hand on the mouse and their index finger lightly
prepared to click. If theyre using a tablet or mobile phone, their index finger (or, in some
cases, their thumb) is pointed out and appears to be always roaming.
It is simple user behavior.
And it can work to your benefit.
Your visitors, like gunfighters, are always ready to react. You just have to give them
something to react to.
For the most part, your headline, demos and body copy are intended to get people to the
point of clicking to buy your product, sign up for a trial, get on your email or beta list or
convert in whatever way you wish them to convert. And in some cases, thats exactly what
your copy will do. Everything leading up to your button call to action will entice a good
number of visitors to click.
But you dont just want a good number of visitors to convert.

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You want to squeeze out every last penny. Which means converting every visitor you
possibly can. How can you do that? You can start by strategically positioning key messages
near buttons to prime people to click them.
Using click triggers will help you get more people to click the button.
Get everyone who was going to convert and the extras who werent.


Let me define click trigger quickly:
A click trigger is any message thats positioned near a key call to action, with
the express purpose of compelling people to click the button.
They knock barriers out of the users path, make worries go far away, and call dreamlike
attention to every cherry you could possibly drop on top. And they do so at exactly the right
moment: the moment a visitors cursor is on the button but they havent yet clicked.
For greatest impact, a click trigger should a) neutralize a key anxiety that is likely to keep
your prospect from moving forward or b) amplify the value of proceeding, which is all about
reminding your prospect of what motivated them to seek you out in the first place, what
value you offer, what benefit theyll derive. If youre offering an incentive, your click trigger
may be that incentive.
Your copy brings a visitor to the button. It overcomes objections, gets emotions soaring,
and makes the conversion happen in their head.
Your click trigger makes them click the button.
Your click trigger encourage the conversion.
Click triggers fall into two categories:
1. The Simply Put Click Trigger
No fuss, no muss. Position a handful of these straightforward click triggers near
buttons on your home page, pricing page, comparison chart, sign-up page, upgrade
page and even thank-you page.
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If you only write 30-day money-back guarantee, you dont really sound that
amazing, do you? You are merely meeting expectations with a Simply Put Click
To get the most out of these click triggers, youll need to stack more than one of
them near the button or demo to be clicked. Get unabashedly aggressive, if youre
tough enough.
2. The Unabashedly Aggressive Click Trigger
The click triggers that bring in the big money are always the unabashedly aggressive.
They do so not with standard copy but with amazing, smack-you-in-the-head
words. Youll notice that anxiety reducers and objection stompers show well here.
Use these near buttons or major points of interaction on the pages immediately
preceding the cart and on high-traffic pages, especially PPC.
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The 7 of us and our kids thank you for your business
Unabashedly Aggressive Click Triggers are wordy. Guess what? Words sell. Not if you
go on and on about nothing. But if you take the time to talk about what your visitors
want (and need) to hear to proceed, every word will be worth its weight in gold.
The goal is to get people to read your copy so that they will comprehend just how
amazing you are.
If you are using an Unabashedly Aggressive Click Trigger, be sure to use only one of
them near the button. You can use others elsewhere in the vicinity.
The reason you dont want to stack multiple Unabashedly Aggressive Click Triggers
near a button is because you dont want to overwhelm and fatigue visitors with
both what youre saying and how hard youre trying to sell.
As soon as your click triggers look even a little suspiciously close to aggressive sales
messages, youre screwed (as in you just pulled the trigger on yourself).


Sometimes its a mega-button. Sometimes its much more than that. Check out what other
startups are doing to make it impossible for their visitors not to click. (2011)
The service offering, social proof and an incentive all in one box designed to
get visitors to click the button. (See next page.)

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Calls to Action (2011)
Click triggers meet marketing messages. (2011, 2014)

Exactly what youll save and how long you have
until you wont be able to save that anymore.

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Calls to Action (2011)
Perfectly placed in Step 1 of the checkout process. (2011)
Nice, short, tight. Bonus points if they could just tweak the second click trigger to
talk about how theyre saving the user from the pain of registering. (2011)
One big ol click trigger that starts close to the button, with email clients, and extends
outward to include a value proposition and 3 influential social proof points. (2011)
The copy on the button is great, and the mention of no account needed is well done.

Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action (2011)
One of the best click triggers is simply to go obvious: click here + big arrow. (2011)
Buttons + charmingly petite By the way, its free.
Although the home page doesnt provide click triggers, the pages closer to the funnel do.
This one speaks to the speed of account creation and setup.
The low price. The free stuff. The guarantee. My fingers are itching to click.

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Yes and yes. Anything that neutralizes anxiety can be a click trigger. But keep in mind that
so many SaaS sites use logos of major publishers on their sites, your visitors may not believe
you were really written about if you dont include a snippet. So go beyond simply adding
the logo of the publication to your page.
In 2011, FreshBooks did this very close to the button. (Thats where good click-triggers
belong.) The Used by over 2 million message didnt hurt, either. Nor did the real-time use


Keep in mind that every target you have needs to have an implicit or explicit reason for
someone to click it.
Implicit reasons are built into us and inspired by things like an incentive shown
elsewhere on your page, a deep desire for your product or sheer personal
motivation to go to the next step on your site
Explicit reasons are click triggers
Let me repeat: every target needs at least one reason to click it. Your demo needs one.
Your sign-up button needs one. Your email list needs one. Your pre-order button needs one.
The smart copy hacker knows that implicit is rarely worthy relying on so be sure to place
explicit click triggers in close visual proximity to everything you want your visitors to click.

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You now know a click trigger is any statement that makes it hard for a visitor not to click a
button. And you now know that click triggers are to be placed in close proximity to a
button, demo or anything you want a user to click.


The worksheets you completed will come in very handy now as you start to think through
which anxiety reducers, objection stompers and reasons to believe will compel more of
your visitors to click X button on Y page.
Using everything youve completed thus far in this ebook, complete the next worksheet to
find the best click-triggers for one of the buttons you created back in Chapter 1.
When youve found the best click triggers for a button on a page, go ahead and test them
by placing them in close visual proximity to that button on that page. As always, record your
results so you can learn.

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Print this page from your PDF copy, or visit for a full selection.

PAGE NAME: __________________________________________

Possible Anxiety

Possible Delighter

Simply Put
Click Trigger

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Aggressive Click

The click triggers youve already learned about will come in just as handy on your sign-up
forms and around your demos as they do on any standard button or text link. But theres
still more you can do with these particular types of calls to action sign up / create an
account and watch our demo so thats what youll learn in this chapter.
Lets start with signing up for something, and then well address demos.


You will probably be surprised by how simple my recommendations here are. But thats a
good thing! Simple is easier to implement than complex. Which means you can go make
tweaks ASAP.
The first thing to keep in mind with any sign-up field is that your visitors require explicit
directions to use them. (2% of your visitors dont but we want to convert more than that!)
Never tell yourself that people will just understand what to do. Thats how you lose
conversions. Instead, always give clear directions.
Notice the difference between the two examples on the next page.
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Calls to Action (2011) (2011)

Whats the difference between the email entry fields? Obvious, right? Metawatch has an
empty field and Dashlane has described the action the user should take.
Thats the first lesson in this chapter: give clear directions on what youd like your visitor to
do. Even if you think its too obvious for words.
Addressing the obvious is key to squeezing out extra conversions. You should never take
yourself so seriously that you think youre above giving clear directions. (2011) is another example of a startup that gets good and explicit with their
instructions to visitors.

Once youve got clear directions in the email field you want your visitors to fill in, you can
dress things up a bit with more persuasive elements. For example, (2011) makes
their invitation list feel more exclusive by using invitation codes. (See next page for

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I caution you to be careful, though, when you use what may appear to be gimmicks. (2011) suggests they have a waiting list of clients but do they really? If
it seems unlikely, it can tarnish your credibility big-time.

Another alternative is to remove the need to create an account at all. Of course, more and
more startups are doing this as people grow fatigued with creating new accounts. (2011) asks people to use LinkedIn to sign in. But then they go the extra mile
to overcome objections and reduce anxieties their users may have with this approach. As
you can see, the supporting text takes care of concerns.


The biggest and best rule for converting in general is to make it easy to buy. (Or easy to sign
up if buying isnt an option.) To make it easy to buy or sign up, you need to remove
obstacles to doing so.
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When youre trying to get a visitor to create an account with you, the most obvious
obstacles are lengthy forms (with unnecessary questions). As you can see, the following two
examples do their best to eliminate extra fields so visitors can become customers fast. (2011) (2011)

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Calls to Action (2014)

FreshBooks even takes things a step further with a smart headline and subhead (see Copy
Hackers Book 2 to learn how to do that) and a great objection-stomper positioned
strategically as a click trigger. Note that the page has barely changed between 2011 and
now, with the only difference aside from a little bolding being the removal of the
Secure Login Page on the 2014 version
Another obstacle to signing up is the inability to find the sign-up form. Poor visual design or
information design is usually the culprit here and also the solution.
To help people find the forms you want them to fill in, do as I recommended earlier: give
them clear, explicit directions. You dont have to use words, although you can. You can do as (2011) does in the following example and simply rely on a directive to point
more people in the right direction.

An alternative to account creation is, of course, no account creation. If you can swing it if
you can get people into your product without creating an account then why wouldnt
Why have a sign-up field if you can simply get people into the process of using your
solution? Skip account creation entirely until theyre ready.
Back in 2011 when was still called that, not Qualaroo, they made it very
easy to buy by making it very easy to get started right on their home page, right at the top.
Buttons & Click-Boosting
Calls to Action does the same thing they did it in 2011, and they do it today. You dont need
to create an account. You can just click Record and, voila, get started. The account gets
created later. That they havent changed this process in at least two and a half years
suggests to me that its probably working well for them

In the online retail world, account creation is pretty major. Marketing managers want to
build lists of customers to communicate with. Thats a perfectly reasonable objective.
But does that objective belong in the checkout process?
The checkout process should be focused on one objective above all: getting more visitors
from entry to the receipt page. Tests (that Ive conducted and others have, too) show that
conversion increases when you remove account creation from the funnel. (2011) does a great job of this. They ask guests to create an account on
the receipt page. This is not only a good strategy in that it resists interrupting the
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conversion process but also because, after completing a purchase, people are often in
better moods than when they started (because theyve satisfied their need to complete a
And the best time to ask anyone for a favour is when theyre in a great mood!


Not every call to action is a button or a text link. The caption on your video demo or video
testimonial is also a call to action.
If you take the time to create a video, you should take the time to write a compelling call to
action that inspires people to click to watch. Printing the word Play across the screen
under a play button indicator is just the beginning.
To get more people to watch your videos, here are the
points you should consider covering in the captions:


The average viewer will
watch 75% of a video if its
between 30 and 60 seconds.

Length of play time Videos are time commitments.

Let visitors know your demo wont take more than
Verb What do you want people to do? Tell them!
Write Click to play, Click to watch, Click for sound or Watch in your caption.
Benefit What will I get out of watching this video? Whats in it for me? Say so in a
few words.
Cool factor Did you shell out big bucks to get Christopher Walken in your demo?
Tell people hes in it! Is your whole team in it? Cool tell people. Does your video
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showcase the #1 feature everyones talking about? No one will know that if you
dont tell them.
When I first wrote this book in 2011, it was extremely difficult to find examples of startups
using captions on the screenshots and videos. Today, its much easier which I dare to
hope has a little something to do with the increasing interest startups are taking in
optimizing their copy as we teach in our ebooks and online (2014) (2014)

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Calls to Action (2014) (2011) (2014)

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Founded in 2011 by Joanna Wiebe and Lance

Jones, Copy Hackers started like most startups:
as a minimum viable product that launched on
Hacker News.
Nearly three years later, were pleased to see
that the market has validated our idea and
then some. Copy Hackers books are on the
Kindles and laptops of over 10,000 startup
founders and, based on the emails we get almost daily, are responsible for
helping busy programmers and marketers write higher-converting copy with
greater confidence.
You dont have to become a copywriter.
But you can write like one. And sell like one.
For more to help you grow your startup or small biz, visit

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