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7 Tips for Creating an Irresistible Call to Action
It's great when people read your emails. It's even better when they click your links.
Posted Nov 3, 2016
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You’ve invested a lot of time and effort into your email marketing strategy, and you want to see results. It’s true that content, structure, and design are essential ingredients for an effective email newsletter. But there is no substitute for a persuasive and engaging call to action that gets readers to take the specific action you want.

So without further ado, here are seven tips for creating an irresistible call to action in your email newsletters:

1. Identify your objective and focus your call to action toward it.

The very first step to pretty much anything in business is to define your objective. This is certainly the case with your email newsletters. After all, if you don’t know what you want readers to do, they won’t either. Do you want them to buy your product, register for an event, read an article, or enter a competition? With a clearly defined objective, you can then decide what is the most important action you want readers to take and design your email around it.

Take this email, for example. The copy, the imagery, and the subject line—“Need to spend up before EOFY?”—all lead the reader toward the very clear objective to buy tickets.

2. Limit your email to one main call to action.

Avoid the temptation to cram your email with too many calls to action.

Too many buttons and links in your email newsletter will likely confuse people, and they won’t know what it is that you really want them to do.

This doesn’t mean you can’t include the same call to action in your email in a few different ways. In fact, it’s a good idea to pepper it throughout the email in a variety of formats, like images, buttons, and in-text links, to increase the chances of it being noticed.

In this Wotif email, the call to action appears as both a text link and a button. The hero image links through to the same place, giving the reader plenty of options to click through to the desired landing page.

3. Be creative.

It’s one thing to have a clear call to action in your email newsletter. But you still need to entice people to click it.

The best way to do that is to get creative, write compelling copy, and use interesting images that capture attention and encourage people to take your desired action.

4. Keep it clean and obvious.

Make sure your call to action is easy to find and stands out from everything else in your email. Remember that a lot of people will simply skim the content of your email, so the call to action needs to be immediately obvious to them.

A good way to do this is to put your call to action in a bright button that is surrounded with white space. This is particularly effective for readers using a mobile device, as it provides more space for clumsy fingers to tap the link.

Here’s a great example of a call to action that is clean and obvious. The bright and contrasting color of the button makes it super easy to find, and there’s plenty of white space, which is consistent with the overall sleek design.

5. Keep it simple.

Recently I received an email from one of my favorite online retailers containing a coupon code for 15 percent off. It immediately got my attention, but when I clicked the link to redeem it, there was nowhere to enter the coupon code.

I assumed it must have been part of the final checkout process, but I had already given up. I simply didn’t have the time to work it out.

Unfortunately for marketers, this sort of thing happens all the time—which is why it’s so important to be clear and straightforward with your instructions. After all, you don’t want your customers to place your call to action in their “too hard” basket.

6. Create a sense of urgency.

A great way to capture people’s attention and get them to act is to add urgency to your email. This can easily be done with the language that you use, or by adding an expiry date to your offers.

This email example does a great job of creating urgency by using a mix of engaging imagery and persuasive copy. It all leads up to the main call to action in the button to “book now.”

7. Actually tell people what you want them to do.

This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many email newsletters get sent out with vague calls to action.

Never be afraid to ask (or tell!) your readers what to do. Experiment with the type of language you use in your call to action to see what resonates best with your audience.


Zoe Beath is the head of marketing at Vision6, a leading integrated marketing solution for email and marketing automation. An experienced tech marketer with a strong background in B2B marketing, Beath holds degrees in commerce and the arts from the University of Sydney.

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