When and How to Issue a Call-to-Action in an Email

Apr 26, 2023 | News

By David Gould, Staff Editor           

A call to action (C2A) is a button or link prompting readers to click—no more, no less.

That being said, there are protocols and logic behind the construction of an effective C2A. We’ll begin by saying that it’s perfectly reasonable to place a call to action phrase in your email subject line. This states clearly what your email is about, which is always appreciated. Placed inside an email, the C2A should be “above the fold” and as close to the very top of your email as possible.

People should know from the start what you want them to do. Buttons ought to be eye-catching and clean. They stand out because they’re not swimming in the flow of explanatory text, like a standard link. A recent study showed that using a button-based C2A increased the click-through rate by 28 percent over a link-based C2A. Your call-to-action button text should be large enough to read easily, but not awkwardly oversized—that can put people off. Be sure to include a healthy bit of white space around your C2As. The extra white space helps create a visual break and draws the reader’s attention right where you want it. It’s a clean, simple way to make that call-to-action button stand out.

The extra white space works best for your mobile readers, too, as it allows a clear area for fingers to click. Use strong verbs, not bland ones like “submit,” “enter” or even “click.” Phrases like “I want the discount” or “Reserve my spot” or “Add me to the list” have a lean-in quality that gets your prospective student into an anticipation mode. Also, keep that button above the fold or otherwise near the top of your email so users never miss it. It increases the scanability of your emails and calls attention to your main message or offer. And use the first person whenever possible. “Book me for a New Student Assessment” is better that “Book Your New Student Assessment” because it’s stated from the point of view of the buyer, not the seller. That’s just simple logic—and a lot of testing has shown that it works extremely well.

Also consider and adjust your “hierarchy” of content. It’s common to present links, images and buttons that aren’t your main call to action. Be sure those extras are not distracting. The entire goal of your email is to get someone to click on your primary C2A button, so any other details need to take a back seat.

Finally, be sure prior to sending a marketing email to test your buttons. Your calls to action are what draws people in and makes them click, so it’s vital to get them right. Finally, always close out your email with a footer section. Your footer could include links to unsubscribe, visit your brand’s website or social accounts, or forward the message to a friend.