8 Best Practices to Design Powerful Calls to Action that Convert

What Are the Best Practices for a Call to Action?

Think of the calls to action (CTAs) in your email campaigns as the entrance to your sales funnel. Are they easy to find? Do they welcome and draw in your prospects and customers? Does the text motivate a click? Here are eight best practices to help you design powerful CTAs that convert.

1. Keep the CTA brief, with no more than four words, if possible. Use actionable copy that starts with a verb. For example, using words such as “register” and “click” leave no doubt as to what you want your subscribers to do. Plus, state the value of what users will get by clicking your CTA. Rather than simply saying “Submit,” be more specific, such as “Start Your Free Trial.”

2. Add urgency to your CTA to further entice people to act. “Shop Now” and “Get Started Today” are two examples of CTAs with a sense of urgency. By using such words as “now” and “today,” you convey the need to act quickly. Combine these words with a limited-time offer — such as “Register and Get 30% Off Today Only!” — to really persuade subscribers to click right away.

3. Include your CTA in the email subject line. If your CTA is in your subject line, you are more likely to get better performance results. A motivating CTA that conveys a great offer and sense of urgency in the subject line may help drive up open rates. Plus, it lets subscribers know what your email message is all about and primes them to spot (and hopefully click) your CTA when they open the email.

4. Help the CTA stand out by using contrasting colors. When recipients decide they want to take the next step, make sure they can quickly and easily find the CTA. In other words, avoid using colors that blend in with the rest of your email design. Leaving some white space around the CTA button helps make it pop, as well. Size also matters when it comes to CTAs. You want your CTA to be big and bold enough to be noticed, but not so big that it overwhelms the email design and detracts from the email message.

5. Be sure your CTA is the first (or second) item noticed in the email. In writing and designing your emails, ensure that the eye path effectively draws the recipient’s attention to the CTA. In addition, keep the CTA above the fold. And in the case of longer email content, repeat the CTA farther down in the copy.

P.S. Another trick to help drive conversions is to conclude your email message with a postscript that includes the CTA. People tend to read postscripts even more than they read the body copy of emails.

6. Ensure that your CTA is apparent, even if a recipient has images turned off. Because many email clients still have images turned off by default, a significant percentage of your subscribers may never see your CTAs if they are in images (e.g., PNGs, JPEGs, or GIFs). Coding your CTA buttons with CSS and HTML is an easy fix that will allow all of your subscribers to respond — even those with images disabled.

7. Link your CTA to a dedicated website landing page. All too often, CTAs in email campaigns take subscribers to a website’s home page, where they must search around for the email offer. Talk about frustrating! To help drive conversions, create a dedicated landing page that: 1) focuses on a single offer; and 2) is consistent in design and copy with the email campaign from which subscribers have clicked through.

8. Frequently test and optimize your CTAs. Copy, shape, color, and location are all variables you can test to determine what drives the best response from your target audience. Through testing, you may also find that segments of your email subscribers respond differently to variations of your CTAs.

A dramatic example of the importance of testing CTAs comes from Unbounce. The copy of a landing page CTA button was changed from “Start your free 30-day trial” to “Start my free 30-day trial.” Simply changing the word “your” to “my” increased the click-through rate by 90% within three weeks!

How are your email campaigns performing? If you think your click-through and conversion rates could be higher, FulcrumTech can help. Crafting and optimizing both email copy and CTAs for driving incredible performance results is one of our many areas of expertise. Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and see what we can do to dramatically improve your email-marketing return on investment.


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