Why You Must Have Calls to Action Above the Fold

I recently stripped all third party ads and promotion from this web site, and used the space to promote my own products more effectively.

I put three promotions / callouts / calls to action in the side column: one for the Pro Web Design Course, one for Save the Pixel, and another for my SEO from Scratch video series.

Then I thought I’d repeat those promotions, so they appear again below the recent posts and site search.

Those lower promotions have different text. (In fact, I allowed myself to write more, because real estate gets cheaper the lower down the page you go.)

I thought it might be interesting to put a different link on each of the side promotions, so that I could go back and see how many people click the top one versus the lower one.

Here are my results

From the past month…

Pro Web Design Course Sales Page

  • Out of 2993 total clicks (from all sources, including other callouts in articles, plus email broadcasts)
  • 680 people clicked the promotion at the TOP of the side column
  • 109 people clicked the promotion LOWER DOWN the side column
  • So over 6x as many people clicked the promotion above the fold

Save the Pixel Sales Page

  • 1541 total clicks
  • 876 clicks on the TOP promotion
  • 101 clicks on the LOWER promotion
  • Nearly 9x as many people clicked the TOP promotion

SEO from Scratch Sales Page

  • 944 total clicks
  • 386 clicks on the TOP promotion
  • 118 clicks on the LOWER promotion
  • Over 3x as many people clicked the TOP promotion

Conclusions

  1. All the promotions nearer the top of the page got significantly more clicks than the lower ones.
  2. The promotions that appear “above the fold” (i.e. visible without scrolling) – the Course and Save the Pixel – got significantly more clicks (2993 and 1541, against the 944 that the third promotion got).
  3. Plus, a higher proportion of those clicks were clicked on the topmost promotions – the ones that are visible above the fold.
  4. So if you have an important promotion, make sure you put a call to action above the fold. I would say in the top 600 pixels.

Follow-up Experiment

I wonder what will happen if I rearrange the promotions. If I reverse the order, I would expect these results to change.

Of course, this will help me isolate other factors, such as the differing appeal of these offers.

I will make that change now, and we’ll see what happens in another month’s time.

22 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Michigan SEO says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great article and test that proves what I’ve been telling my clients – keep the CTA’s above the fold.

    It’s worked with Newspapers all these years, right?

    It’s also good to have that CTA at the bottom, as you will get some % of people that will click through on it.

    Can’t wait to see the next months results.

    Patrick

  2. Rob Drummond says:

    Ben, I ran a similar test a while ago for a company I work for. We found that whatever promotion we placed at the top got the most clicks! For our audience at least, people seemed to just click on whatever came first.

    Maybe placing the PWDC link at the top will be most profitable for you?

    I’ll be interested to see if you find the same result!

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Hi Rob. Yes, I’m expecting so. And you’re right, the PWDC is my most important promotion. But you’ve got to test, right?

  3. Slimhuren says:

    Hi Ben! Very interesting! We are very hard working on our website for half a year now, but rental companies are really hard to persuade to sign in. No third party adds, what they have to do is on top; Any idea what would help? I really like to learn form guys like you. Thank you!

  4. Pingback: [Friday Links] The #psuweb12 Edition

  5. Simon Hellin says:

    If the visitor allready sees the ad/promotion on top, why would he scroll to the bottom. You have to make the client scroll to the bottom, top down.

    This way you can give him more information on his way down to the CTA.

    This site illustrates it on a very nice way: http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/

    Oh and yes, these days, what is the fold? (smartphones, laptops, desktops, ect…)

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Hi Simon. Paddy’s page is an interesting read, but he’s almost certainly wrong. Long-form sales letters have been tested and tested for years. They work. And they work BETTER when the call to action is repeated.

      I cannot expect anyone to scroll to the end of my home page. Paddy uses “samey” as a criticism. But if it improves conversions, I can live with that.

  6. Derek says:

    Is it possible that you get more above the fold clicks because people have visited the site before, seen the offers, gone away, decided (off-line) to make a purchase, then return and just click the first opportunity to purchase that they come across.

    I’m probably over analysing this!

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Could be, Derek. The only way to know is to test, so we’ll see what happens now I have rearranged the promos.

      I also realise that I should be using more graphics, especially photos of people’s faces so I’ll test that soon too.

      • Derek says:

        You should do a promo video for each product and place those where the graphics. I think that a video would make a huge difference in conversion. Especially with your presenting skills.

        Talking of videos, I’d love a video series version of Save The Pixel (maybe with a few updates) – I think it’d be a big seller. Put me down for a pre-order!

      • Ben Hunt says:

        Derek, you are a marketing genius, no question.

        I should test a sales video for each product against a sales page. Or maybe a sales page with a video up top.

        Great idea to do a “Save the Pixel Live” video series. That could be included free as part of the Pro Web Design Course.

  7. Marvin says:

    HI Ben,

    How well does the “50 Web Design Secrets” orange bar convert for you? This is above the fold at all times. However, you don’t reference it specifically.

    Thoughts?

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Marvin, it tripled my newsletter sign-up rate. Movement at the edge of vision always draws attention, so the slide-up is highly effective.

  8. Ryan says:

    This is an interesting subject, but the study itself is a little schewed so far as there wasn’t a control group. The people more needing of web design courses are likely to hit the top page link simply because it’s the first thing they see; they aren’t necesarily turned off from lower page links, or lower page links aren’t necesarily ineffective. Understanding how effective each stands on its own is important for web designers and advertisers in order to balance cost and promotion.

    • Ryan says:

      To add, people that chose to ignore the top link are significantly more likely to ignore the bottom link–that’s simple logic.

      • Ryan says:

        …So the pool of people that make it to the bottom of the page without being whisked away are going to be less receptive to the promotion.

      • Ben Hunt says:

        Yes. They might be most interested in the article they’re reading. Which is why it’s also important to have calls to action at the end of main content, in the main content column.

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Hi Ryan. I think we can draw the pretty obvious conclusion that things that are seen first, and seen without scrolling, are more likely to be noticed, read, and clicked on.

  9. Derek says:

    With your redesign of the header and nav for this site, your promotions are now below the fold.

    Did you mean to do that? Has is affected sales?

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Well spotted Derek. You’re quite right.

      My feeling is that having all the categories on view will increase engagement with the material (I’m looking for an increase in pages per visit specifically).

      My main sale – the Pro Web Design Course – tends to have a long cycle. People will typically join my email list and follow me for weeks before making the decision to invest. Many of them will contact me direct with questions as well.

      So, while click-through rates to the sales pages may drop (which I expect), I am not expecting sales in PWDC to drop. But the stats will show.

  10. Michael Aagaard says:

    Hi Ben – great article and experiment!

    I work with landing page optimization, and my experience is that the CTA above to fold best practice can backfire. I recently published a case study where a landing page treatment with the CTA at the bottom of a long landing page outperformed the control version with CTA above the fold by 304%.

    You can check it out here: goo.gl/IzQNI

    I’m by no means saying that the CTA should always be under the fold. What I’m suggesting is that one should test what works best on the specific page for the specific offer. Just like you did on the blog ;-)

    - Michael

    • Ben Hunt says:

      Hi Michael. Of course, we should always defer to Rule #1 (Test EVERYTHING!).

      There are lots of best practice rules of thumb, but none of them applies in every case.

      In this case, it isn’t strictly a call to action.. these are actually promotions/ads to find out more, so the visitor doesn’t need much prior knowledge in order to be ready to take the next step. We’re not really asking them to take action, there’s no commitment, we just want as many people as possible to see the message and to click. And, in this case, having the promo above the fold worked.