You have a SaaS product.
And when a website visitor lands on your homepage, in an ideal world, they’ll take immediate action.
The action they take is dependent on how you guide them through your site.
One of the ways you do this is through ‘call to actions’ (CTA).
Across the web, you’ll find loads of blogs posts pointing you towards CTA best practices.
In fact, if you were to Google that phrase, you’d see there were 550,000,000 results.
You will also read case studies that say: “We changed our CTA to XYZ and we increased our sign ups by 132439287%.
Impressive, but does it work for everyone?
‘Best practices’ are not set in stone.
More often than not, they are an amalgamation of what worked well one time for a particular person.
We wanted to find out how SaaS companies were using CTAs across their homepages.
To do this we analyzed 969 SaaS companies CTAs to see how they’re really used across homepages.
What is a call to action (CTA)
A call to action button can aka (CTA). In its simplest form, it’s image or text that encourages your website visitors to take a desired action.
You decide what that action will be.
An effective CTA depends on how many people take the specific action you’d like.
For SaaS companies, the action you might want them to take varies.
- You could want them to look at your services page.
- You might want them to download an ebook.
- Sign up for a free trial.
- Join your email list.
- Buy your product.
But knowing which CTA to use on your site depends on what your homepage goals are
The goal of your homepage might be to increase free product purchases.
But if the first thing someone sees when they land on your site is a big “BUY NOW” button – do you think they’ll take action?
Because you haven’t thought about trying to convince that person to take action.
What do the best practices tell you about the perfect CTA formula?
What do the industry leaders tell us about how to craft the perfect call to action button?
Litmus’ blog post suggests ‘action words’ encourage your target audience to take action.
Sumo’s blog post explains the less call to actions you use, the less likely you are to distract your audience.
Wishpond’s blog post suggests some call to actions don’t work because they use vague words like “click here”.
Hubspot’s blog post reiterates this idea. They promote the avoidance of using words like “submit”.
Copyhackers’ blog post shows the importance of adding a benefit to your call to actions.
So that’s the call to action button best practices according to industry leaders.
To recap, the core ideas are:
- Use strong action phrases to encourage people to take action
- Fewer call to actions avoids confusing potential customers
- Avoid vague language
- Consider pairing your call to actions with a powerful benefit or value proposition
But how does it compare to what SaaS companies actually do? Well to find out, we analyzed 969 SaaS company homepages. We wanted to see how they use call to actions and discover whether they’re aligned with what the top advice says.
- We looked at 969 SaaS sites
- In total, we looked at 3780 call to actions
- The lowest number of call to actions on a page was 1
- The highest number of unique call to actions on a page was 15
How many call to action buttons should you use on your homepage?
We looked at how many call to action buttons each site used. It’s important to note that for the basis of this research, we only looked at unique call to actions. On many of the sites, they reused the same call to action across the site.
The data tells us 21.67% (210) used three different call to actions across their homepage.
On the extreme end, 11.46% (111) of companies had one call to action and 0.10% (1) used 15 different call to actions on their site.
Let’s look at how that data manifests itself on actual homepages.
Service Titan used the same call to action button on their homepage three times.
Does this work for them?
This works well because of the audience they’re targeting. They describe themselves as “The world’s leading all-in-one software for residential HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and other home service businesses.”
If you’re on their site, it’s likely you work in these industries and are actively looking for this type of software.
What’s more, they include a range of other trust indicators on their site that encourages people to try the demo.
But what about at the other end of the spectrum?
Vend uses 15 different call to actions on their site. You can see a sample selection below.
What’s interesting though, is they don’t use the same CTA more than once.
Does this work for them?
Without looking at the analytics and conversion rates, it’s hard to say. It’s clear Vend targets a range of industries (all in the e-commerce space). But as an e-commerce owner, it’s not immediately clear if this service is for you.
I do wonder though, whether the amount of CTAs is overkill and reduces the user experience. There could be some benefit in them reducing the number of different call to action buttons. This way the target audience can focus on the most important actions to take.
Vend, if you read this, let’s A/B test it!
How long should a CTA be?
Knowing how long or short to make the anchor text on your call to action button is tricky. Too long and you might not get the benefits across in the right way. Too short and you hinder your conversion rates by people not taking action.
But what did the numbers say?
We looked at 3780 different call to actions. The lowest word count was 1 word and the highest was 9, with the average being 2.68.
Call to actions with one word
One-word call to actions used verbs such as register, download, demo, contact, etc
But we’ve already established that it’s useful to explain the benefits to convince someone to click.
So how do the sites that use one-word CTAs do it?
Datorama, for example, uses “submit” as their call to action on their form. When you fill in the form you will understand why ‘thousands of leading companies choose them’.
However, what they don’t do is show you exactly how they plan to present this information for you.
- Do you receive a pdf?
- Are you going to receive a phone call?
- Or will someone from the sales team get in touch?
This form asks for a lot of details and it’s not quite clear what the benefits will be from filling them in.
Potential customers are hesitant to hand over their details unless they know what’s in it for them. It all comes down to the user experience of the landing page they’re on. You need to make it easy for them to navigate your site, know what to click and why.
Do CTAs with one-word anchor text work?
Without analyzing the click-throughs and conversion rates of each site, it’s hard to tell. But what is clear is if you do plan on using a one-word CTA, make sure you’ve explained the benefits somewhere.
Call to actions with nine words
Exasol has a 9-word call to action button on their homepage – very long in comparison to our average (2.68 words).
They’ve included “free” and they’ve also explained the value of the whitepaper.
What they don’t do is add any sense of time-frame.
How long will it take to receive the white paper?
Will clicking this link direct me straight to the white paper?
These are all thoughts that run through a reader’s mind before they click to take action.
Exasol doesn’t add a time frame because when you click on the CTA, you then have to fill in a form to access it.
This adds an extra layer of unnecessary friction.
If we look at what the white paper covers, it’s all top-level information:
“What is Exasol?”
“What key capabilities does Exasol offer?”
“What is our value proposition?”
“What are our development benefits?”
Although this is useful information, it should be freely accessible on the website.
After all, that’s what a website is for, right?
As a potential customer, before you find out any of this information you also need to hand over your:
- First name
- Last name
- Company name
- Phone number
- Job role
- Language preference
That’s a lot of information to hand over before you’ve even found out whether the company is right for you.
What’s the ideal CTA length?
From our research, the word count of your CTA doesn’t matter as much as the context it’s used in.