Calls to action might be the most important part of your business strategy: the jewel in your marketing crown. Your brand’s success goes hand in hand with a strong call to action. You will have experienced this first-hand, whether you’ve signed up to Netflix or bought a new jacket online: the chances are a good call to action led you there. I’ve seen countless CTAs in my work, so I know what works — and what doesn’t. If your CTAs aren’t on-point, you’ll see conversions slow and sales fizzle out. So, if you want to know how to make your call to actions truly click-worthy, read on... So why are calls to action important? Well, take this as an example: if you include just a single call to action as part of your email marketing strategy, your clicks could increase by up to 400%, and your sales by over 1000%. A good call to action works as part of a more comprehensive customer experience strategy, building on useful and engaging copy and high-quality aesthetics to work towards a final goal. It should be compelling and drive your customers to take a specific action: to make a purchase or sign up for your newsletter. Without a compelling call to action, your customers are just lost sheep on a mountain without a shepherd. Your CTA can lead them to where you want them to go. So what makes for a strong call to action? A good call to action is so much more than just a button at the bottom of the page. When you’re writing your CTA, you need to… Make It Compelling This is an obvious one, but no less important. Your customers are like mice in a maze: they need direction, and you need to provide them with it. So when you write your CTA, it needs to have a clear and compelling directive. This means using a powerful, commanding verb to start your CTA with. This can vary depending on what it is you’re offering, and therefore what you need from the customer. For example, if you’re running an online store, you would want to start with “buy” or “shop.” Alternatively, if you’re marketing a newsletter or ebook, begin with “subscribe” or “download.” Charity: Water does this nicely with their donation page, below. They start with the imperative to give but follow it up with another command: “change.” It’s a pleasant surprise that gives their CTA a more emotional slant, compelling people to donate. Keep It In the First Person Your customers also like to feel like they’re the only customer in the world. They don’t want to share your attention with anyone else, so be sure that your CTAs are written in the first person. While this might not work with every call to action, it can be hugely effective for some. For example, saying things like “claim my discount code today” rather than “download your free discount code today” can make the difference between a conversion and a loss. Convey A Sense of Urgency Remember when you had to write an essay at school and as you got closer and closer to the deadline, all you could think of was that essay? While it might have been stressful back then, today you can leverage that in your CTAs to ramp up your conversions and boost sales. Consider including a deadline for a special offer or promotion in your CTA, for example: “Buy now! Sale ends tomorrow”. Just like you and me, customers have severe FOMO (that is, Fear Of Missing Out). The thought of losing out on a great deal or offer because of inaction is a powerful motivator. Check out online fashion retailer ASOS’s lead-in to their call to action in the example below. The command to “grab it before it’s gone” reinforces the sense of urgency, further compounded by the bold announcement that these are the “final reductions” below. Tell Your Customer Why They Should Click If you want your call to action to be truly click-worthy, you need to show your customer what’s in it for them. Will they get a great deal on shoes? Will they learn the secrets of the trade? The benefit might be a summation of your value proposition, the unique quality that your business has over your competitors. Clearly state the benefit they’ll receive when they click on your CTA to give them that little extra nudge. For example, the eCommerce marketplace Exchange lures their customers in with the promise of their “next big success,” a bold claim that is sure to hook any budding entrepreneur looking for businesses for sale: Combine that with a brightly-colored CTA button, and your eyes are drawn to it like a pink flower in a lilac field. It’s all about making the CTA irresistible to click. Engage Your Customers Consumers are bombarded with demands to buy, download, sign up and more from marketing all the time, from print, digital and television advertisements. This means they tend to tune out a lot of what they see and hear. So you need to slice through that and grab their attention. How? With a little quirky humor. Check out credit union Fairwinds’ website, below. They use the oldest (and in my unpopular opinion, the best) trick in the book to get their customers focused: a simple pun. It might not be the funniest thing you’ve read all day, but it’s enough to raise a smile on your face and hook you long enough to read it. Emphasize Freebies People love freebies. Whether it’s a cheese sample at your local grocery store or a ticket to a concert, consumers love getting something for nothing. If you’re able to offer something for free, such as a sample or product trial, make sure that’s clear in your call to action. It could be just enough to push a dithering shopper to purchase or sign up. Check out Spotify’s call to action. The offer of their free option is colored a punchy green and naturally draws the reader subtly to their Premium option too. It stands out, and the freebie is hard to miss. The layout as well is nice and simple, the cornerstone of any good CTA. Minimize Stress and Hassle As much as people love freebies, they enjoy a stress-free life too (and don’t we all?). So consumers are understandably wary of signing up to anything if they think that they’re going to have to endure countless tedious phone calls and annoying email exchanges if anything goes wrong. To counter this, you need to reassure them that by clicking your CTA, the process will be as easy or risk-free as possible for them. For example, Netflix knows that customers can be put off by the hassle of canceling a subscription to services. Recognizing that, they lead into their call to action with the promise that potential customers can cancel at any time, heading off their concern before they can even voice it. Keep It Simple This one is crucial. If your website or email is chock-a-block with copy, images, graphics and banners, your potential customers will get an instant headache. Instead of clicking on your call to action, they’ll probably be more likely to take a painkiller and lie down in a darkened room. Visual clutter is a big turn-off and will distract from your CTA. Want to see an example of a brand doing it right? Look no further than file hosting service Dropbox. Their aesthetic is built around subtle imagery and simple design, and their call to action is no difference. Contained in a bold blue box, it contrasts with the negative space around it. It jumps out from the page without any external distractions, and even the photo is simple and understated. Your call to action is your advertising Horn of Gondor, the guiding light down your marketing funnel. Work on creating a strong, crafted, and compelling command, and your campaigns will be rejuvenated, injected with a hit of energy and dynamism. Whether it’s part of your email marketing or placed enticingly on your website, be sure to heed the lessons imparted above. And it’s not just there either: a call to action on your blog post or social media content can open up new avenues for you to draw in the customers. So what are you waiting for? Get working on those calls to action today!
In any role in your business, it’s easy to fall into autopilot. Most of us are creatures of habit. How often is the reason for doing something, “we’ve always done it that way?” The truth is, we should spend no time or resources on any task without understanding the goal for it. What are you hoping to achieve? When it comes to email marketing, do you know the reason behind each and every email you send? Factors to Consider When Setting a Goal For your email marketing, the needs of your subscriber should almost come first and foremost. This is what makes an email great. Of course, we’re all doing email marketing because it’s great for our business too. Balancing these two is sides of a goal is what leads to great emails. Why Setting a Goal Makes for Great Emails When you understand the ultimate goal of an email, you can reverse engineer the steps it takes to achieve that purpose. Keeping a goal in mind puts every aspect of your email into focus. It lets you know what you need to achieve at each level of your email. Choosing Your Goal Yes, there are many different things that you achieve with email marketing. You can build trust, further your branding, increase your sales and so much more. In reality, it’s really just whether it’s a slow play or a long play towards boosting your bottom line. Knowing that the end game is always going to be sales, even if it’s hard to see how that email will impact sales in the short-term, you can pick your goal based on where that email plays into your overall sales funnel. Marketing is always about micro wins. You won’t go far if your only move is “here buy this.” You have to do the work and approach each small step (or goal) that will lead you towards that ultimate goal of a sale. So how do you do it? How To Achieve Your Goals As mentioned above, to achieve your goals work backwards from your end point. It’s important to gain a complete understanding of each of these levels, in order to truly make your emails great. Without this knowledge, you’re playing a guessing game and you cannot expect to achieve your goals. So, what are the steps a customer or subscribe must take for you to achieve your goal? Step 1: Provide a Clear Call To Action We’ve often shared the sage words of Flint McGlaughlin, Founder and Managing Director of MECLABS, who likes to say that you cannot sell anything with email marketing other than a click. The final goal will likely take place on a product page, landing page or another location outside of your email. That means that Call To Action (CTA) that compels a subscriber to reach that page must be on point. If you have properly identified a goal for your email, the CTA should be obvious. Your CTA should be clear and easy to follow. In fact, that there are impressive stats that demonstrate the benefit of only having one CTA in an email campaign. Recently, Toast tested having one clear CTA in their email campaigns. This test yielded increased clicks to the tune of 371% and boosted sales 1,617%. [caption id=\"attachment_6659\" align=\"aligncenter\" width=\"615\"] H&M used one clear and simple CTA.[/caption] Most subscribers are busy or in some cases just lazy. Don’t ask too much of subscribers. At this point, you may be thinking, “but Andy ... there are more than one things I may need a subscriber or customer to take action on!” That’s perfectly fine. Just use more than one email to achieve this. What makes a great CTA? A great CTA does three things well: Creates urgency. A subscriber should feel the need to act right away. Provides clear instructions on what you want the email recipient to do next. Gives confidence. Avoid friction or anxiety. There’s no risk when something is free, right? Here’s an example of those points in action: Don’t wait another minute to make a great email! Start email marketing free today. If you don’t already have one, click here to get your Free Plan now! It’s important to test the various CTAs that are available to you, to find out what works with your audience. Test what is more successful for you between buttons for CTAs or using linked text. If you opt for using buttons, the design of your button is another factor to consider. Color, size, placement and even something as simple as adding an arrow graphic, like a mouse cursor, can have a significant impact on your email marketing success. Simply adding an arrow icon to their CTA buttons gave Helzberg Diamonds a 26% increase in clicks. The copy you use to motive in your CTA is also important. One company, ContentVerve, used first-person phrasing and saw a 90% increase in Click-Through Rate (CTR). For example, \"Start my free 30 day trial\" vs. \"Start your free 30 day trial.\" Step 2: Write Compelling Email Copy Your CTA isn’t the only place that copy is important. Write compelling email copy that causes a subscriber to read your entire email through to the CTA. Follow these tips for writing quality email copy: Write quickly. It will help your enthusiasm and personality shine. Be brief. Write like each word costs you money. Subscribers have a short attention span. You don’t want them to lose interest. Write conversationally. Craft your emails as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with one subscriber. Look back at your copy and ask yourself if you would talk that way if you were in a conversation. No boilerplates. Being too formulaic will result in a one way ticket to Boring Town. Break from the norm. Throw away things like “Sincerely,” “Best” or “Thanks.” Use your own personality. You might just see an email from Benchmark end in “With regards from sunny Southern California.” You want to use “you.” It’s among the most persuasive words in the dictionary. It’s not about you. Care and compassion for your subscribers will take your email marketing a long way. Step 3: Write A Great Subject Line Now that you know you can write a great email, let’s make sure that email gets opened. Enter subject lines. According to Convince & Convert, 35% of subscribers will open an email based on the subject line alone. Follow these tips for great subject lines: Be concise. With so many emails being viewed on mobile first, they’ll only see your subject line in its entirety if it’s around 50 characters. Deliver on your promise. Make sure your subject line is an honest representation of what follows within the email. The point of great emails is to build trust! Begin with an action-oriented verb. Your subject line is similar to a CTA and beginning a subject line with an action verb will help your email get opened. Give a sense of urgency. Same logic behind a subject line being like your CTA applies. Make them want to open your email. NOW! Ask a question? One that your subscribers will want the answer to and open the email to find the answer or consider the answer for themselves. In case you still need extra help with subject lines, Sumo has 62 formulas for great subject lines. Other factors that should be considered here are From Name and the email address from which you are sending as well as the Preview Text. Conclusion These are the important steps for creating great emails. Yes, they are in reverse order from how your subscriber will experience them. However, it’s always easiest when you understand what your goal is and then work backwards from there. That way you can make sure that you’ve set yourself up for success at each level of your email. Before you create any great email, you must first know your goal for that email. Then you have you make sure that the CTA in your email is great enough to get them to act on it, ultimately achieving your goal. To get them to your CTA, you have to first craft great email copy. This will make them read through your email to the CTA. For your email to be read in the first place, you need to write a great subject line that inspires your subscribers to open your email. Share Your Ideas What do you do to make your emails great? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments your favorite tips for making great emails. Want to Learn More? This post is only one part of what goes into making a great email. That’s why we wrote a new guide called What Makes a Great Email. There you can gain a better understanding for great emails and learn practical strategies to create them. Click here to download What Makes a Great Email. Get Started Today If this post has you inspired to make a great email, signup for the free Benchmark Starter Plan. Or login and put what you’ve learned to use.