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How to Optimize Your Call to Action

Recently we shared with you our take-aways from the iLive 2013 Internet and digital marketing conference that gathered online marketers from around Europe. Now we’d like to get deeper insights into the topic of call to action, presented by Michael Aagaard – call to action and content expert at ContentVerve.

Call to action (CTA) is one of the most important elements within an email campaign. If CTA is successful, you will get a high click through rate and achieve the goal – people will buy your product, register for an event, fill out a survey, etc.

1. Test your call to action

Michael Aagaard calls himself a split test junkie, therefore his first piece of advice was to test, test and test again calls to action. Split your database into several groups, prepare a slightly different call to action for each of them, compare results and implement the best practice in your next campaigns. When testing calls to action, take into account:

  • you can test not only the design or text of a call to action, but also the font, size, color, location, etc.
  • each time test only one single call to action element to be able to analyze the exact impact of it

2. Make it visible at first sight

A call to action button must be the most visible element in your newsletter. When a recipient opens your email, there should be no doubt about where to click and what you will get there. So thoroughly rethink your email template design. The first idea on how to grab more attention is to make the call to action button bigger – but remember:

  • if you make the call to action button too big, you may look desperate, and this is not good for your business
  • the bigger the button, the more text there should be, for example, two words wouldn’t be enough for a large button

3. Choose the right color

If you have ever been even slightly interested in psychology, you may know the meaning of different colors. For example, green gives approval, red warns about something, black is related to luxury, blue is calm and neutral, etc. You should probably follow these rules when creating call to action buttons, but it does not always work. When choosing colors:

  • take into account the colors of the whole template and especially those next to the call to action button
  • think about contrasts and eye-catching colors rather than common tonality because in a newsletter you can afford to be braver than on your homepage

At the iLive conference, Michael Aagaard presented several case studies on button colors, for instance, results that indicated the increase of a click through rate by 35% just by changing the color to green.

4. Include several calls to action

Don’t limit yourself with a single call to action button. Use images and hyperlinks in the text to guide the readers to your landing page. For some it will be an attractive image that works, for another inviting text will work, for the rest a call to action button will work as the impetus to take action. Several options as to where to click will result in a higher click through rate.

There may also me more than one call to action button in your email campaign. How to decide in favor of one or several buttons?

  • If the product or service you offer is quite simple and there is not much text, one call to action button will be enough
  • If it’s something more complicated and needs more explication, you can include extra buttons, for example, the first in the middle and the second at the end of the text

5. Be specific and emphasize benefits

If the design of a call to action button answers WHERE should I click, the text on the button answers WHY should I click on it; however, shorter is not always better. What really works is to be as specific as possible.

  • Mention specific benefits the person will get by clicking on the button. Instead of “Download”, write “Get My Free Whitepaper”
  • Don’ t be afraid of a call to action that is more than two words long if this helps to express benefits, but don’t go over the top with the length. For example, instead of “Get Membership”, extend the text to “Find Gym & Get Membership”

6. Make a call to action personal

Personalization is one of the keys to success in today’s marketing, so use it also in your calls to action. Michael Aagaard presented various cases with an increase of the click through rate by up to 90% simply by replacing some words in the call to action button. Experiment and try different approaches until you find what fits best to your audience.

  • Create text from the point of view of the reader, for example, replace “Start YOUR Free Trial” with “Start MY Free Trial”, so that the person can identify himself or herself with your offer
  • Add personality to the offer, for instance, change “Add to Card” with “Buy Me”

7. Make images work for your call to action

Images, of course, make newsletters more attractive and interesting, but they can also work directly for your calls to action because images will get more attention than any other newsletter element.

  • People always note images within email campaigns, especially faces. But what if you choose a picture where the face is turned in the direction of the call to action? The recipient would notice the picture, follow the direction of the eyes and stop rightly at your call to action!
  • Use other elements in pictures like arrows or lines to guide recipients to the direction of your call to action

A call to action is one of the first elements to start active testing with. If used wisely, a call to action will lead you to the aim of your email campaign – guide recipients further and make them act as you want.

Follow our blog and also read about other speakers and their presentations from the iLive 2013 Internet and digital marketing conference!

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