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What's A Good Call-To-Action Click-Through Rate?

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Posted by: Travis McGinnis on Tue, Aug 22, 2017

I was analyzing the Click-Through Rates (CTRs) on the CTAs for one of our clients and I thought to myself, “Self, what’s a good click rate for these?”

Since I'm a sucker for a good CTA, I went to Google and asked:

“What's A Good Call-To-Action Click-Through Rate?”

You know what came up? Jack squat.

I’m not saying there’s nothing out there about CTAs and CTRs. There is tons of data. More numbers and percentages than I could shake a stick at, but none of them were a direct answer to my question. I found stats on click-through rates for AdWords and stats about CTAs in general. Like how placement on a page, personalizing the verbiage, improving the design, or making them simple and in-line with the copy has increased conversions by X percentages.

But nothing to answer my specific question: What’s a good click-through rate for a call-to-action?

I wanted to know the most basic data about call-to-actions before any optimization actions take place. What should your baseline benchmark for performance be? Ground zero. That’s what I wanted.

So, I set out to answer my own question. I’ve documented my findings here to share with the world.

The Scientific Method

For my analysis, I looked at the last three month’s performance of CTAs for each of our clients, and averaged the CTRs across the board, including CTAs with a zero percent click-through rate, to get the rawest data possible. I only included CTAs with at least 100 views in that time frame to exclude the hyper-niche, which always tend to have a good click rate.

I did another calculation that removed the highest and lowest numbers for each client to eliminate any outliers that may skew the data up or down. When doing this, I did not include any zero percent numbers and started with the second lowest actual number. For example, if a client had CTAs with 0.0, 0.1, and 0.2 percent, I started with 0.2 through the second highest CTR.

I also calculated the median of each range, again excluding any CTA with a 0 percent click rate. A median is another way to find a more reliable metric by looking at the number exactly in the middle of a range.

Into the Weeds

To get even more detailed, I also examined performance on three various types of CTAs:

  • Buttons – defined as a simple background color with a short line of text, such as “Read More” or “Download Now.”
  • Text-Only – defined as a simple text link of any length.
  • Images/Developed – defined as more complex designs that need to be either developed out with CSS, or uploaded as an image.

Further, I broke these down into specific industries:

  • Automotive & Marine
  • Coaching/Consulting
  • Construction
  • Healthcare/Medical
  • Fitness
  • Food & Beverage Services
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Technology

The Results Are In

My analysis revealed an exciting result. CTAs perform better than AdWords. The average CTR for a call-to-action button is 3.29 percent across all industries. Here is a breakdown of Average Overall, Average Minus Top & Bottom, and Average Median click-through rates.

All Industries CTAs

Click any chart to open a larger version in a new window.

All Industries CTAs

All Industries - CTR by Type

All Industries - CTR by CTA Type

Breaking that down by CTA type, we see the following:

  • Button – 4.37 percent average click-through.
  • Text – 6.27 percent average click-through.
  • Image/Developed – 2.89 percent average click-through.

Clearly, simple text CTAs perform far and away better than the other types. However, that’s not to say text CTAs are the only way to go. Let’s break this down further by highest and lowest click rates for each type.

All Industries - Highest Click Rate by CTA Type

All Industries - Highest Click Rate by CTA Type

While text based CTAs have a higher average click-through rate, the highest across the board belongs to a Button CTA. Now let’s look at the lowest rates.

All Industries - Lowest Click Rate by CTA Type

All Industries - Lowest Click Rate by CTA Type

Here again, a text CTA had the lowest click-through rate across all industries, where again, it was a button CTA with the higher of the lowest click rates – or the best of the worst, for lack of a better term.

So yes, text-only CTAs perform better on average, but they’re more susceptible to swings in performance, whereas button CTAs are more reliable to have a steady click rate regardless.

A possible reason for this could be that button CTAs clearly stand out on a page or email and users are forced to choose whether to click. A text-only link, on the other hand, could be easily missed on the page – but when they are noticed, users tend to click more often.

As far as why image/developed CTAs are at the bottom of the pile in terms of performance, I reckon it’s due to a phenomenon called banner blindness. Users see a fancy image and assume it’s a banner advertisement, so they skip right over it, even if it’s placed perfectly on a page with related content.

If you're a fan of image/developed CTAs and are looking for ways to overcome this phenomenon, you might find Neil Patel's article, Your Ads are Getting Ignored: 5 Smart Strategies to Overcome Banner Blindness to be helpful. In his post, he shares a chart with the top 5 reasons users block ads and the first two hit the nail on the head when it comes to why image-based CTAs don't perform very well: they're interruptive and annoying.

CTA Click-Through Rates by Industry

As you can see in the chart below, the Fitness, Automotive & Marine, and Manufacturing industries have the highest average CTRs while Construction, Healthcare/Medical, and Technology are among the lowest.

Industry Breakdown - Average CTR

Industry Breakdown - Average Call to Action Click-Through Rate

Here’s the same breakdown in a table format:

Industry

Average CTR

Minus Top & Bottom

Average Median CTR

Automotive & Marine

5.98%

4.97%

4.88%

Coaching/Consulting

3.12%

2.47%

1.75%

Construction

0.90%

0.76%

0.66%

Healthcare/Medical

1.26%

1.13%

0.90%

Fitness

7.32%

5.28%

5.82%

Food & Beverage

3.34%

2.77%

1.80%

Manufacturing

4.00%

3.07%

2.35%

Marketing

1.94%

1.80%

0.84%

Real Estate

2.09%

0.93%

0.68%

Technology

1.43%

1.58%

0.88%

 

Let’s take this a step further and see what the maximum and minimum click rates by industry look like.

 

Industry

Maximum

Minimum

Range

Automotive & Marine

25.45%

0.03%

25.42%

Coaching/Consulting

25.75%

0.11%

25.64%

Construction

5.04%

0.14%

4.90%

Healthcare/Medical

13.46%

0.03%

13.43%

Fitness

17.72%

3.07%

14.65%

Food & Beverage

29.40%

0.10%

29.30%

Manufacturing

15.64%

0.15%

15.49%

Marketing

18.00%

0.11%

17.89%

Real Estate

7.55%

0.09%

7.46%

Technology

10.80%

0.01%

10.79%

 

Looking at the extremes helps us draw conclusions about the nature of our call-to-actions and guides our decisions on where to focus optimization efforts. The range will almost always be closer to the max number. This is because maximum numbers tend to be one-off anomalies, and minimum numbers tend to be generic CTAs with lots of views.

A smaller range means your max and min numbers are closer together. Using the range as a benchmark metric is one way to analyze performance over time.

Here are some tactics you can employ for CTAs with a lower-than-average CTR:

  • Remove generic CTAs from the homepage or footer (this isn’t always a good idea).
  • Add CTAs to more relevant pages.
  • Update the design or copy of CTAs.
  • Consider A/B testing with another variant.

For CTAs with a higher than average CTR, but lower submission rates, you need to look at the landing page they link to:

  • Analyze the copy and images to be sure it follows best practices.
  • Look at the form and determine if it’s appropriate for the offer at hand.
  • Consider A/B testing with another variant.
  • Make sure it reinforces the message promised in the CTA.

Other Observations

I noticed in my research that the more views a Call-to-Action has, the lower the click-through rate becomes. This same correlation can be seen with email open rates and list size. For example, CTAs placed on a homepage or in the footer of every page won’t resonate with users like a CTA placed strategically on a page with the express purpose of converting users to leads via a related offer.

This research doesn’t take into account button copy, design, or page placement – which are all huge factors when optimizing for a better click rate. I would hypothesize that CTAs placed on specific pages leading to related offers, and using the right verbiage will have a much higher than average CTR, and that’s exactly what CTAs are meant to do.

Caveats & Key Takeaways

The biggest caveat here is the sample size of my data. I only had access to CTA statistics for our clients, and among those we only have a few clients in each industry represented here. Further, there are other industries not represented here at all, like Insurance, Education, Government, and Travel.

So no, this data is not meant to be the final word on this topic, but it is a good benchmark for your efforts – especially if you’re in one of the sampled industries. All of that said, here is the most important take away:

Always. Be. Testing.

Never settle for average. Just because your CTAs are performing above average, doesn’t mean they’re at the top of their game. Test the design. Test the copy. Test the placement. Test the landing pages they lead to. Test the copy on those landing pages. Test the forms on those landing pages. Test everything and never settle.

Ready to set and hit your goals? Let's Talk!
Travis McGinnis

About The Author

Travis McGinnis

I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.

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