In a nutshell, the purpose of an email is to drive customers and prospective customers to your site – the landing page is responsible for the conversion. So your call to action or CTA is arguably the most important part of the entire message. It’s the vehicle to move the subscribers from their inbox to your website. Without a compelling CTA, your email is incomplete and potentially very ineffective. It would be great if we could just drop a “Shop Now” button into our message and watch the conversions roll in, but these days, that’s just not enough. Remember: The No. 1 question a subscriber asks when scanning your email is “What’s in it for me?” Your call to action should provide the answer. Make it clear what you’re offering the subscriber for investing their time in your message. To create a quality CTA, first answer the what, why and how.
  • What action do I want a subscriber to take?
  • Why would they want to do so?
  • How will they know what to do?
By answering these questions, you’ll discover what you need to convey in your CTA to get that coveted click from the subscriber. Now let’s look at how to take the next step to help your CTA stand out and make your email a successful one.

Language and Design

Two of the most important aspects of an effective CTA are its language and design. The combination of effective copy and eye-catching design is what will draw readers to take that action. While the design helps attract the reader’s attention, the language is what ultimately convinces a reader to engage with it. It’s important to ask for the appropriate action at the right time. Remember what I said earlier. Don’t try to make the sale with your email; that’s the job of your landing page. Offer value at low or no cost to your readers in exchange for the click. Use language that describes why a user should follow your link.

Best Practices Checklist

When creating CTAs, it can be easy to fall into that “Shop Now” rut. But resist the urge and use some creativity to entice readers to follow through. Here are a few more questions to ask to make sure you’re doing just that.
  • Is the CTA visually appealing?
  • Is it easy to find on the page?
  • Did you use contrasting colors to help it stand out in the email?
  • Is it large enough, particularly when viewing on mobile?
  • Is the CTA short enough? Think five words or less.
  • Will the copy be clear and easy to understand?
  • Does it encourage action? Does it use an active verb?

A/B Split Testing

When experimenting with new CTAs, don’t hesitate to perform some A/B testing to see what works best with your subscribers. Every audience is different. Sometimes, even a call to action using all the best practice options fails to resonate. You may find that a red button in the top left corner of the email performs best for you, while another company sees little success with red buttons and identifies the top right corner as the optimal placement for their CTAs. Here are a few ways to test your CTAs: Placement above the fold vs. below the fold. Try placing your CTA within the first 300px of your message and then at the bottom of the email. Right vs. left alignment. In English, we read from left to right, so our eye tends to gravitate toward the top left first. White space and the CTA. Increase or reduce the white space between your copy and CTA. Directional Symbols. Use graphic elements, such as arrows, to call attention to your CTA. Button Color. Experiment with cool vs. warm colors. Review the initial click rate, but also look further down the funnel to see which color generated more revenue. Text vs. graphics. Do subscribers respond more to straight text or a graphic element? Also, consider using them in conjunction with one other. Button size. What’s the optimal size for your audience? Buy Now vs. Shop Now. While you should always try to be creative and send the right message, at times, direct is best. But consider various options for your straightforward CTAs. “Buy Now” infers a larger commitment, while “Shop Now” may lower the pressure to buy right away. Here are a few other options to test:
  • High commitment: Buy | Sign Up | Submit | Give | Invest | Complete | Order | Checkout
  • Lower commitment: Get | Discover | Reveal | Earn | Find | Shop | View | Learn | Check Out (as in “check this out,” not “checkout”)
Keep your calls to action descriptive, relevant, timely, easy to find, and easy to interact with. Above all, promise your subscribers real value, and keep that promise even after they leave their inbox. Not only will your subscribers thank you, but the return on your email campaigns will likely increase, too.