A CTA (call to action) is a prompt — usually a hyperlinked button or text — asking your reader to take a specific action.
When used effectively, CTAs can significantly improve your email campaign performance.
Why does your email need a CTA?
Whether or not you’re selling something, you should send every single email with a specific goal in mind.
Depending on your campaign, that goal may vary.
You may want your subscriber to log into their account, read your content, leave feedback, make a purchase or enter a giveaway.
Whatever your goal, a call-to-action (CTA) will tell your reader what they should do next.
An effective CTA should align with your email goal and increase the likelihood of getting an email conversion – especially with a solid click-through rate (CTR).
Now that we understand why CTAs matter, let’s jump into how to get them right.
CTA best practices for best results
These pointers will help you to craft the best CTAs for your email campaigns.
Stick to one CTA
It can be tempting to try and squeeze 5 CTAs into a single email. But when it comes to CTAs, one is better than many.
And when I say better, I’m talking about as much as a 371% increase in CTR and a 1676% increase in sales.
DuoLingo emails have one goal — to get you back into the app and practicing.
They keep it simple with a 2-word, action-focused CTA in their signature contrasting blue button.
Repeat your CTA if the email is long
For longer emails, it’s a good idea to repeat your CTA in the middle and at the end of your email. That way, your reader won’t have to scroll back to the top to take action and click the link.
Luvvi Ajaya sprinkles multiple CTAs throughout this email announcing her new book.
She uses a combination of hyperlinked images, hyperlinked text, and a single red CTA button with text, Grab a Copy.
Make use of white space for impact
A little over 40% of emails are read on mobile. This means many of your readers are on small screens.
Make their reading experience pleasant by using whitespace and giving the words room to breathe.
This longer text-based email from conversion copywriter Prerna Malik makes good use of white space.
The spacing makes it easier to read. It also makes it easier for the CTA button to stand out. (Notice she also uses a combination of hyperlinked text and a CTA button.)
Use a contrasting color for your CTA
Different stands out.
Data shows that conversion rates go up when the contrast between the CTA button color and the background color increases.
AppSumo uses their signature yellow button against a plain white background in this email. Since the color is only used on the CTA button, it stands out.
A note on color:
It’s also important to use the same color if you have multiple CTA buttons in an email.
This consistency echoes in the reader’s mind that all the buttons are the same and serve the same function. The end result? Reduced confusion.
Use a button for your CTA
Buttons disturb the reader’s regular viewing pattern and make them more likely to click your CTA.
Think about it. After a wall of text, a button is something different. Which means it’ll stand out.
(Notice that all the examples in this section include CTA buttons?)
Keep your CTA short and use verbs
Our attention spans have shrunk by about 25% in the last few years. So, where possible, aim for brevity and clarity with your CTAs.
Your CTAs have one job — and that’s to drive an action. So you want to make sure you’re using short phrases with action words in your copy.
Make the first word of your CTA an action word. Some examples include:
Don’t be afraid to test
While every marketer will make recommendations for how you should use CTAs, it’s important to run your own tests.
Variables like your target audience and your industry can have a big impact on the performance of your CTAs.
So test your assumptions rigorously to get more valuable insight and improve your email performance.
I can’t talk about CTAs without talking about CTV (call to value).
An easy way to think of the differences between a CTV and a CTA is to consider your reader’s stage of awareness.
A reader at the top of the funnel isn’t usually ready to make a purchase and make a big commitment. So CTVs may be more effective for them.
CTV usually has lower resistance. They’re easier to click.
A reader further in the funnel and close to purchasing will be more responsive to a CTA.
The table below outlines the differences with a few examples.
How to optimize your CTA button copy
The tips in this Tutorial Tuesdays video on optimizing button copy may be helpful as you work on your CTA button copy.
While the video focuses on button copy on website pages, you’ll still get value from many of the tips.
Joanna also spends some time going through the differences between CTAs and CTVs and when to use them.
So check out the video, then join me below for some more examples.
Time for some examples
Now that we’ve taken care of the why and how with examples, here are some specific CTAs and CTVs you can use in your emails.
You may even mix these to create your own variations.
CTA examples for your emails
- Shop Now
- Get X% off
- Order Now
- Shop Deals
- Shop Bestsellers
- Start Free Trial
- Create Account
- Join Free
- Get Started
- Write a Review
- Start Now
- Book Now
- I’m Ready
- Join Now
- I Want It
CTV examples for your emails
- Save X%
- Claim My Discount
- Unlock Savings
- I Want My Discount
- Find My Style
- Chat with Us
- Book a Demo
- Continue *the action they should take inside your app* (Eg – Learning, Creating, Writing)
- Take the Course
- Save More Time
- Book a Consult
- Save My Spot
- Sign Me Up
- Count Me In
- Get the Guide
Let’s go a step further
The Conversion Copywriting 101 course by Copyhackers is a great place to start if you want to get a deeper understanding of CTAs and CTVs. The course covers the differences between the two, as well as when and where to use them.
Join now for free to improve your general copywriting skills. (See what I did with that CTA? 😉)