97% of Marketers Were Wrong. (Button Shape Case Study)
By on Dec 06, 2010

Well, well, well. We meet again. I’m afraid the vast majority of you smart cookies (including me), who voted, were wrong. The poll received close to 400 votes, of which, only 9 picked the winning button. Out of the 12 options, the winning button was picked the least. Go figure.

If you don’t know what I’m on about, please refer to this button shape case study.

The Results:

(ordered from highest click-through-ratio to lowest)

best call to action buttonsConclusions:

I wish I had some profound reasoning as to why the boring rectangle received the highest CTR, but I don’t. My initial thought was because it’s what people are used to clicking. However, that would be incorrect since rounded buttons are the most common shape these days.

The left pointing arrows both came out with respectable CTRs. Why? As Kim and Browie both mentioned, they draw attention to the underlined text.

Shape #2, with the most votes, came in with the 7th best CTR. The only difference between that shape and the winning shape was the small arrow on the right. In terms of difference CTR it was a 40% drop. Go figure.

The loser, poor guy, just didn’t pull his weight. Had close to half the CTR the winning shape had. Size seems to matter here.

The Heckler:

“Mr Green these numbers are cool and all, but is it really worth the hassle?

Alright I’m going to put my lab coat on for this one.

Lets compared winner shape 1 (0.196% CTR) vs loser shape 8 (0.096% CTR).

Say we are launching a new product called the Underwater Snuggie. We have a $100,000 budget, which would get us 100,000,000 ad impressions. We have a conversion rate of 5% from ad to sale (worth $50). Let’s assume that conversion rates are identical between the ads.

Shape 8 would generate: $240,000

Shape 1 would generate: $490,000

Worth the hassle? I think so.

The Gold Pass Champion:

french champion

No one commented the right answer! Damn it guys! Even though 9 people voted for it in the poll. So I had to choose from votes for the second best button which was button number 12. The Gold Pass Champion is a reader from France Keeg (I don’t have your details so please contact me and I will send you the gold pass). Très bien!

Final Thoughts:

My split test, even though was only a couple of hundred dollars worth of traffic, showed the big difference between the simple shape of button. I haven’t even touched color, text, or location. The square shape won this test, but that doesn’t mean that it will win all tests. Traffic changes. What worked this week might not work as well next week. I’m sure most of you have active landing pages or campaigns. Have you split tested your buttons?

The results showed the very reason why you need to test…97% of assumptions were wrong.


freaky gifA.D.H.D Summary (You guys did just great to scroll down here!): 400 votes. 400 assumptions. 9 correct answers. If you want to assume anything, assume that you will be wrong.

Comments (36)

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  1. Dino Vedo says:

    oohh wow.. that sucks

  2. Dsg says:

    John Cena the champ!!!

  3. Keeg says:

    Thanks for the result !

  4. groomez says:

    Goes to show why people don't test enough. Excellent ::touches finger tips::

  5. Josh says:

    The buttons with an arrow/arrow shape pointing towards the left seemed to outperform those pointing to the right – Any chance you'll do a test of the "most votes" button, just with the arrow flipped, and on the left side of the button? Also, keeping the arrow pointing to the right, but flipping it to the left side will produce different results, as well.

  6. wow def wasn't my first choice

  7. Dominik says:

    This is very interresting. Look at the winner and loser. Exact same shape. Just a small change of the spacing at top and bottom!

  8. The real question is was there any difference in conversion rates?

  9. Awesome! I was wrong – guessed the box + arrow. Nice post 🙂

  10. Ahh dang, was close with the arrows pointing to the text. I guess it would safe to assume that arrow pointing towards text > arrows pointing away from text.

  11. barman says:

    haha affiliates suck at marketing

    • d3so says:

      I think affiliates overthink when creating campaigns. The simplest creative can be more effective than a flashy one. It's by instinct most of us are inclined to be flashy.

  12. Ivan Ong says:

    wow damn… i got it wrong… goes to show that almost everything that u assume are all wrong… best way is to test and stats will tell u the real results

  13. Darko M says:

    I was very close 🙂

  14. Dub says:

    Aren't you going to tell us how many impressions this was over? Pretty relevant statistic…

  15. Kang says:

    Brilliantly-executed case study, bravo!

    P.S. The jumping monster next to the ADHD summary freaks me out.

  16. Kang says:

    Brilliantly-executed case study, bravo!

    P.S. The jumping monster next to the ADHD summary freaks me out.

  17. ABComm says:

    Great study. Old tips are best tips.

  18. ABComm says:

    Great study. Old tips are best tips.

  19. Awesome findings as usual Lorenzo.

    I think the reason we suck so bad is because the people doing affiliate marketing have no background or training in marketing. I know I don't. I would guess that most affiliate marketers have more computer skills then marketing skills.

    At the moment, Affiliate Marketing is more available to people with the computer skills required to setup campaigns online.

    I would surmise that a trained marketer would probably have a better chance at answering these questions correctly, but would find it more difficult to get through the technical hurdles of getting a campaign setup. As a result, the industry is currently dominated by computer geeks (myself included).

    A fun poll might be to see what background best describes your audience (Marketing or Computer).

  20. Dan Lew says:

    Awesome looking test and competition, too bad I just missed it 🙂

  21. Dan Lew says:

    Awesome looking test and competition, too bad I just missed it 🙂

  22. I love your parting shot… "If you want to assume anything, assume that you will be wrong." That's pure gold!


  23. hey Lorenzo,

    I'm willing to bet that if you align the arrow from button #2 on the left and have it point towards "Sign Up Here" that it would get a higher CTR. Hypothesis: The arrow will point eyes to the button, same as your other arrows pointed eyes to the text.

    Also, I'm proud to say I guessed the odd-shape curly button would do well. It contrasts and therefore gets more attention + clicks.

    Care to test it?

  24. Smaxor says:

    Good stuff Mr Green. All the advanced marketers know all this stuff matters. But it's always good for people to see the true numbers of just how much it matters.

  25. I would have never guessed the boring old square button to be winner. I'm going to use that information to change the signup button for my forum. You the man Mr. Green.

  26. Chris says:

    who woulda thought? ok.. maybe the 9 people who guessed ;P

    glad I found this post. thanks 😉

  27. Perry says:

    If the plain button performed the best then why not test NO button at all? Use a plain easy to read font in regular size and 100% taller and underlined like a hyperlink.

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