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Above the fold or you’re dead?


There are certainly a lot of case studies that show having a strong call-to-action (CTA) above “The Fold” is a key component to higher conversion rates.  BBI has many.

I learned this in MBA.  If you’re not 100% sure, the correct answer is always – “It depends.”  I really believe that the effectiveness of the CTA above the fold depends on the test you are running.

Here are the things to consider and I’ll walk through an example:

1)      What is your overall goal (metric) for the email/landing page?

2)      How did the users get to the landing page?

We just finished running a test for a newsletter.  The end goal was to drive traffic from the email to either a landing page or a log-in page for users to log-in to their accounts.  The overall goal was to drive more click-throughs and get users to log-in to their account.

The diagram below shows overall flow of the test cells A & B.

Half the user group got Email A and the other got B.  Email A users could, from the email, go to Landing Page A to read more about the feature article, or go directly to the Log-in page.  The same applied to Email B group.  Once on the landing page, there is a CTA to go to the Log-in page.

The diagram below shows a skeletal view of the emails.

As you can see, Email A’s CTA above the fold is the “Log-in” button, compared to Email B’s CTA which is “Read More.”

Want to take a guess as to which email got more “clicks” for the “Log-in?”

You guessed right… hopefully.  Email A in terms of clicks on the “Log-in” button beat Email B by 21%.  Overall, the number of clicks for the “Log-in” button accounted for less than 5% of total clicks.  In terms of the other metric of overall click-throughs, Email B crushed Email A by over 50%!

So Email A wins “Log-ins” and Email B wins the overall click-throughs right?  Not so fast.  Remember, the goal for Log-ins is overall and not necessarily just from the email.  So what happened once users clicked on the “Read More” and got to the landing page?

Let’s take a look.  This is where it gets interesting.  Below is the diagram for the landing pages.

Remember my point #2?  How did the users get to the landing page?  The users that came to this landing page are users that clicked on the “Read More” button so we can assume they are interested in reading the article.

Note the fold line.  Landing Page A’s CTA for “Log-in” is above the fold compared to Landing Page B.  So if we’re going with the theory of above the fold, Landing Page A will drive more clicks on the “Log-in” button.

Guess what?  The conversion rate for users coming to the landing and clicking on the “Log-in” button was 50% higher for Landing Page B.

Step back and think about it.  The CTA placement on Landing Page B goes against the above the fold best practice… but it also makes sense to put the button at the bottom because these users are interested in reading the article.  If they read a majority of it, there is no CTA for Landing Page A.

Take-away: above the fold is not always the right call. It depends! Sometimes it is better to sweep the leg.  Know why your users are on your landing page and test from there!

If you want another example of tracking and testing buttons, my personal online marketing analytics blog site has got one.