Maximizing the Impact of Your Call to Action

In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is an image or text link meant to prompt a visitor to take part in a specific action. The action you want visitors to take can be almost anything – register for an event, follow us on social media, download a white paper, watch a webinar, listen to a podcast, and much more.

CTAs can be placed anywhere in your marketing materials – in an email, on your web site or social media page, and so on. As the purpose of a CTA is to convert visitors to leads, they are a crucial part of both inbound and outbound marketing.  Let’s look at the use of CTAs in email marketing as an example of how they can be used most appropriately.

Crafting an Effective Call to Action in Email Marketing

When adding CTAs to emails, best practices recommend the fewer CTAs the better. Why? Giving visitors too many options hinders their decision making. It’s called decision paralysis – having too many choices so that a decision is not made. Have you ever been at the supermarket and you just cannot choose which brand of water, coffee, or cereal to buy? That’s decision paralysis and we’re exposed to it every day. Don’t make the mistake of subjecting your audience to it as well.

Once you’ve decided the appropriate number of CTAs to include in your email, the five key components of creating each CTA are:

  1. Type. Text link or button? According to MarketingProfs, buttons are much more effective than just text when displaying your CTA. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use text links. Some folks might not respond as much to a button, and might disregard them altogether. We recommend using a combination of both.
  2. Placement. Your CTA should be front and center and easy for the visitor to naturally find with their eye. If you have more than one CTA in your email, it’s important to list the most important CTA first. A secondary CTA should follow the main CTA and should be a different color and size.
  3. Message. The copy for your CTA is equally as important as where it’s located, especially for text-based links. Consider using persuasive verbs such as get, solve, learn, simplify, and act. Persuasive verbs that provide a benefit, such as increase and unleash, are also very powerful. In addition, articulating your message clearly is critical to drawing in your visitors. If people are confused about what they are going to get when clicking on a CTA, they probably won’t click it.
  4. Color. Buttons need to stand out. Use colors that pop to help draw the eye to the CTA. The goal is to design for conversion vs. to be aesthetically pleasing. Remember, if visitors can’t easily find your CTA, then you’re reducing the possibility they’ll convert.
  5. Shape. Buttons come in various shapes – rectangular, square, round, oblong. Which shape yields higher conversion? There’s no best practice or scientific proof for what works best, but the overall design of your email and how well the button shape fits into it can make a difference. Many tend to favor rectangular shaped buttons – but this is a personal preference rather than a best practice. What we suggest is running A/B tests to determine those shapes that yield higher results for your organization.

One Thing to Never Forget for Email Marketing

Remember, test, test, test. A/B testing is a great way to determine which components leads to higher conversion rates. But the key is to test one element at a time – test either placement or color; shape or color. Don’t test multiple components at one time or you won’t know which produced better results.

For more email marketing tips, check out our recent post on the 8 Essential Best Practices for Successful Email Marketing Campaigns

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