Images of different types of CTAs

Should testing your calls to action be a default strategy? – Common pitfalls of A/B testing (Part 1).


Calls to actions (CTAs) are an important element of website optimisation. However, sometimes CTA testing appears to be the default strategy for optimising web pages. This may be based upon the assumption that a web page is largely optimized, but whatever the reason it is guaranteed to lead to a sub-optimal website.

Firstly no webpage is ever fully optimal, however much you test it. The target is continually moving as visitor behaviour changes over time, competitors launch new offers or improve their websites. Technological developments may disrupt the market and new products or services result in a constantly changing landscape.

Image of lift model

But most importantly website optimisation needs to begin with your visitors and your value proposition. Before evaluating your CTAs you need to understand what your visitors are looking for and how your value proposition can help meet their explicit (category specific) and implicit (psychological) goals. Explicit goals, such as quality or style of merchandise, tend to be the more rational and conscious motivators that visitors articulate when evaluating which sites they will consider.

However, implicit or psychological goals, such as excitement or security, are important because these allow brands to differentiate themselves and generate an emotional response from customers. If a site wants optimise relevancy then it has to connect with visitors at both of these levels.

Image of implicit goals
Source: Decode Marketing

Next you need to align your website goals with your business goals and prioritize your goals to determine your key conversion optimisation objective. Your conversion optimisation goals should be as closely related to revenue generators as possible. Examples include:

  • Purchase conversion rate
  • Average order value
  • Account opening conversion rate
  • Deposit conversion rate
  • Average deposit value
  • Return on advertising spend

To implement a conversion strategy you should also ensure:

  • Your web analytics measure all primary (e.g. account opening) and secondary conversion goals (e.g. newsletter subscription) on pages and flows where you have a reasonable number of visitors. Don’t assume everything is automatically tracked.
  • You have appropriate A/B and multivariate testing tools to run experiments on your most visited websites. Do these allow you to segment and personalise experiences to benefit fully from online testing? Conversion optimisation is a journey that usually requires travelling through a number of distinct stages.


  • Establish a detailed testing roadmap that includes key landing pages, your home page, product pages, shopping cart, registration pages, and other important pages and flows. It is essential to consider both new and returning visitors. Review expert literature (see reading list below) on how to build and enhance your optimisation strategy.

6 types of tests to optimise a website page


  • Engage areas in your organisation that can assist in the process of improving the customer experience, including IT, UX, usability, marketing, and copywriters.
  • Build a technology roadmap to evaluate and implement new tools (e.g. live chat or App testing) and functionality to further enhance your optimisation capabilities.

When you have established a truly comprehensive conversion optimisation strategy your CTAs tests will become a small, but important element of your testing program. Finally, be bold and have fun with your experiments.

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Further reading:



You Should Test That: Conversion Optimization for More Leads, Sales and Profit or The Art and Science of Optimized Marketing


Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions


Website Optimization: An Hour a Day


Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist TM

  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, check out the Conversion Uplift  Facebook page or connect on LinkedIn.