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Better Buttons Part 2: Buttons as Brand Engagement Tools

Posted By Georgina Laidlaw 16th of March 2012 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Earlier today, the Ninja made an important point about buttons on your blog: he said that users have an expectation about the kind of response they get when they interact with a button.

In a world where engagement is the blogger’s ultimate goal, we can take this one step further. We can see buttons as the mechanisms by which users effect their engagement—whether they’re clicking Subscribe or Comment or Share or Download or Buy, users enact engagement on your blog using buttons.

This is, primarily, why it’s important to use the correct—honest—words on your button: as the Ninja says, verbage sets an expectation that your conversion process must fulfil.

Another consideration is usability. The poor average reading levels of many web users, coupled with the distractions and limitations we all face as we use the web, suggests that we should keep button text as straightforward as possible. There are also standard web conventions for many interactions, and it makes good practice to consider those, too.

But there’s another element of engagement that we should consider when we look at button text, and that’s your brand.

If buttons are the ultimate point of engagement with your blog, they may well be the ultimate point of engagement with your brand, too. So your button text needs to be honest, clear and brand-appropriate.

Does your button text reflect your brand?

For most bloggers, honesty and clarity are brand values, so a button that invites users to sign up for an email newsletter with the words “Subscribe now” is probably pretty brand-appropriate.

But, depending on your brand and your audience, there may be other options, including:

  • Sign up now
  • Sign me up!
  • Subscribe me
  • Let’s do it
  • Bombs away!

That last example is a real-world example: it’s from the subscription form on Ashley Ambirge’s The Middle Finger Project.

As the Ninja alluded in his post, the button text you choose will always be seen in context, so you can shape it according to the surrounding calls to action. That said, it’s true that readers’ eyes may be drawn to buttons before they’ve read any surrounding text, so there’s a very strong argument that your button text should make sense independently of that text as well as within it.

Of course, “making sense” is relative to your audience: what makes sense to you may baffle me. So while some may argue that a text input box followed by a button that reads “Bombs away!” is not prescriptive enough—not a strong enough call to action—Ashley may reply that her readers get it, well and truly.

Moreover, we can imagine that those who do get it also get a kick out of clicking a button that reads “Bombs away!” rather than boring old “Subscribe.” Maybe “bombs away” is within their own personal vocabulary; maybe it simply resonates with them—tickles their fancy, or gives them a chuckle.

I wonder how many people are smiling as they’re clicking Subscribe buttons on websites right now? If your blog’s users are having a positive physical response to your brand as they’re interacting with your blog, that may well dictate something about the emotional depth of that engagement, and its potential to evolve into lasting loyalty.

A tall order?

This isn’t to say that your button text should always make people smile. Obviously that’s not appropriate for all brands or contexts. But words do solicit feeling, so a consideration of users’ feelings—which will, after all, affect their eagerness to undertake the interaction your button is inviting—is important.

Would you rather:

  • Get started, or
  • Proceed?
  • Buy now, or
  • Purchase?
  • Become a member, or
  • Join us, or
  • Create an account?

Your answer probably depends on the site’s purpose and brand. And what about your blog? Is the text on your buttons consistent with your blog’s brand? I’d love to hear in the comments whether you’ve considered buttons as a branding element.

About Georgina Laidlaw
Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  1. Great sound advice, but how do I move my readers enough that they will *engage* with my page and buttons? I offer buttons and boxes and content, but nobody seems to be doing anything, just reading and then clicking away.

  2. That’s certainly a challenge – to make a button that can make people smile/laugh/giggle!
    Either way the point about how the button should make sense on its own is very good, if it’s the bomb’s away example and right next to an email box then the context should make it fairly self explanatory which is good. Once more there’s plenty of food for thought in this post – I suspect I need to put “button design & creation” in as a sub-project for everything I create ;)

  3. Hi Georgina,

    I think about buttons all the time. I wonder if I should use a cliche one (instant access) or make my own. I’ve currently decided on “send my book” for my free ebook subscription offer. I’m not sure how effective it is compared to the other options, but it is quite accurate and I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

    I lean towards unique button text because it shows you’re not some automated bot trying to scoop up email addresses. It seems more human.

    ~ Stephen

  4. I love this series. It’s an eye-opener and so insightful.

    I’ll have to rewrite my page copies soon!

    Thanks so much for the valuable tips.

  5. Hi Georgina,

    This is interesting approach and I never thought of buttons as branding element. So I will replace boring Subscribe with Let’s do it. Hm I like the idea it’s more engaging. Great post.

  6. I never really thought about changing the button to say anything else other than “subsribe.” I think I may explore other options and see if my subscription rate goes up.

    Thanks for a great article! :)

    • Georgina Laidlaw says: 03/17/2012 at 8:32 am

      Taline, you raise an important point, which is that testing different button text is important—that way you can hone the button text to make it as effective as possible (and make sure you’re not breaking your CTA efficacy in the process).

  7. Only button? how about button with little personalized text inside. I believe it make more sense to add some text to button.

  8. I haven’t really tackled it from a branding perspective, but I think it is a great idea. I do try and make my buttons more enticing or actionable. For example, subscribers get my eBook, so my button says “send my eBook”

    Might play around with some branding ideas in other areas though… Thanks Georgina.

  9. Great article and really its a case of making it push button simple for readers to engage

  10. Great point Darren. I found sometimes having something “Start Today” in my buttons also works and entices people. As when you have something like subscribe or sign up readers immediately think they may have to pay or entering into something.

    I might experiment and see if anything else might work more effectively.


  11. Yay for button day at Problogger!

  12. Good advice on buttons for blogs.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  13. Love these series.. first and second part of articles.. Great work.

  14. I’ve always liked using Join Us on the buttons on my websites. It works well, but I haven’t tested other alternatives.

  15. Hi Georgina,

    I had not considered this button issue that much important , but I’ll take it more serious so far!…

  16. I’m so new to blogging that I haven’t even begun to think about buttons yet. But I think I should. You’ve made me see the importance buttons have to my brand. Thanks for the post.

  17. Georgidina

    you just showed us how powerful a simple little tool like a button could be

  18. Hey, buttons are really going viral. Bombs away is definitely cool. Great tips, guess I’ll be heads-on experimenting with buttons.

  19. I’m another one who hadn’t really considered buttons as a branding thing. Thanks for giving me food for thought. Great post. It makes a lot of sense.

  20. I have several buttons that I’ve created; I love doing it. I use Windows Paint and my photography. Why my buttons are missing are calls to action. Thank you so much for this post. I have some fun work to do this weekend!


  21. An important consideration is your audience . . . you can be a little more “wild” with an internet savvy audience. But if your audience tends to be less tech-y, sticking with “expected” may get better results — definitely true for me. I found I had far better click-thru on my e-mail subscribers when I added a line saying to click on the title to read the full article — many didn’t realize it was clickable and were upset that they were just getting a teaser line.

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