How to create a good CTA for your next email campaign

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Contributor, Sell to Win

Even if you have the best newsletter in the world, it won’t make a difference without high-quality CTAs.

You work hard to craft awesome content for your growing list of email subscribers. But for some reason, they won’t click through to your blog posts and product offers. What gives?

Well, there might be a problem with your CTAs…

Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Even professional marketers struggle to craft good CTAs for their email campaigns. Fortunately there are a few simple things you can do to design better CTAs that generate more clicks for your business.

In this article, we’ll explain what a CTA is (just in case you aren’t familiar with the term) and share seven tips to help you transform yours from hum-drum to totally awesome!

What’s a CTA?

A call to action, CTA for short, is marketing-speak for a string of text that prompts an audience to do something—get more information, download a product, buy a service, etc.

A CTA can look like a button that says something like “Buy Now” or “Learn More”. Or simple hyperlinked text that says, “Download now for all the latest tips”. In fact, a CTA can be almost anything as long as it prompts the reader to do something specific.

Here are a couple of examples of good CTAs:

Source: Spotify

You know what everybody loves? Free stuff. That’s one of the reasons why this is a good CTA from Spotify. People that land on the company’s homepage are obviously interested in a music streaming service. The chance to subscribe for free for three months is quite enticing.

Source: Dollar Shave Club

“Get Started” isn’t a good CTA by itself. But the text that Dollar Shave Club uses before it’s CTA button is really compelling and makes for an effective combination.

This is super important to keep in mind when discussing email CTAs! Why? Because the button or hyperlink text you place at the end of your email is only part of your call-to-action. It’s the climatic moment, for sure. But if the body text of your email doesn’t put your subscribers in the right “mood,” they’ll never click your CTA.

How to write a good call to action

So how do you write a call to action that people actually want to, you know, click on? Here are seven tips to help you craft good CTAs that propel your business forward.

The basics

Before you can write a good call to action, you have to have a firm grasp of the basics, i.e. a strong understanding of your target audience and the purpose of your CTA. 

1. Understand your audience

All good marketing starts with an in-depth understanding of the people you’re trying to reach. Who are they? What do they like and dislike? Why do they read your emails in the first place?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you need to take some time to study your customers. Then put together buyer personas that include demographic information like their age, gender, and occupation, as well as psychographic details like their hopes and fears.

2. Know your CTA’s purpose

Next, make sure every email CTA you write has a specific purpose. What do you want people to do after they read your message? Download something? Buy a product? Invest in your services? Follow your brand on social media?

Once you identify the goal of your message, it will be much easier to craft CTA copy that leads your subscribers to the action(s) you want them to take.

Good CTA copy

Your call to action copy is super important. In fact, the words you use can make or break your CTA. So it’s definitely important to get them right. Here’s how:

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3. Promote the benefit

If you want people to click your CTA, you have to give them a compelling reason to do so.

Ask yourself, “what benefit will my subscribers receive in exchange for clicking on my CTA?” Then use words that convey this benefit as clearly as possible.

For example, if you wanted your subscribers to download a free ebook on Instagram marketing, you could end your message with a CTA that says “Download Now”. But if we’re being honest, that’s pretty generic and not all that interesting.

Instead use a CTA like “Learn to Use Instagram Like a Pro” or “Make Money With Instagram.” Both of these are good CTAs because they promote benefits.

4. Create urgency

Another way to increase clicks is to create a sense of urgency. This is pretty easy to do if you’re running a sale or have a limited stock of certain items. A CTA like “Get Them Before They’re Gone” hints to the reader that if they don’t act now, they might miss out.

You can also create urgency by raising the stakes of your offer. For instance, you could say “Try It Before Your Friends”, which subtly suggests to readers that being the first of their social group to try something is beneficial. But they better jump on the offer ASAP.

5. Use the right perspective

When I say “perspective,” I’m talking about first-person, second-person, and third-person perspective. You know, the stuff you learned back in elementary school.

Studies show that CTAs written in first-person are more effective. In fact, Unbounce once experienced a 90% boost in clicks by changing its CTA from “Start Your Free 30 Day Trial” to “Start My Free 30 Day Trial”. One word, 90% more clicks!

This strategy works because it makes CTAs sound more personal and gives readers ownership over the offer you’re making them.

Good CTA design

The way your call to action looks is important, too. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional designer to get this aspect of your CTA right. Just keep these tips in mind:

6. Make it a button

Your email CTAs can appear in a variety of ways. You can go the minimalist route and simply hyperlink a bit of text. You can get extra fancy and allow subscribers to click an image that will take them to a certain web page. Or you can make your CTA look like a button.

Pro tip: In most cases, your best bet is to make your CTA look like a button.

Why is this? It’s simple: buttons are made to be clicked. Your audience knows this, so as soon as they see your CTA button, they’ll automatically know what you want them to do.

In addition, buttons are easy to see—especially if you give them an eye-catching color. (More on colors below.) This is important because 85% of people check email on their smartphones. By creating CTA buttons, you ensure your audience can see them on a small screen.

7. Catch your reader’s eye

You can write the best CTA in the history of good CTAs. But if your subscribers can’t see it then it doesn’t matter. That’s why you need to commit to eye-catching design.

Here are four ways to make sure your design hits the spot:

  • Contrasting colors: Your CTA button should stand out from the rest of your email. This can be done by choosing contrasting colors. For example, if your email background is white, give your CTA a bright color. SAP once experienced a 32.5% boost in clicks by changing their call to action button to orange.
  • Appropriate size: How big should your CTA button be? Big enough to easily notice, but not so big that it annoys your readers. This is really a judgement call. Test a few different sizes and pick the one that’s most visually appealing. Note: if your CTA distracts from your email’s body text, it’s probably too big.
  • Proper placement: Where you place your CTA should depend on the complexity of your offer. If your offer is easy to understand, place it near the top of your message. That way your subscribers don’t have to scroll to click it. If your offer is complicated, place it at the end of your email as this will give you ample time to explain benefits.
  • Blank space: Lastly, make sure your CTA button, wherever you decide to place it, is surrounded by blank space. This makes it easy for subscribers to see. Just don’t go overboard. Too much blank space could lead readers to believe that your body text and CTA button aren’t connected. Again, use your best judgement in this area.

Your turn

If you want to succeed with email marketing, you have to learn how to create a good call to action. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Simply implement the seven tips outlined in this article and you’ll begin to generate more clicks with every message you send. 💪

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