Often overlooked, taken for granted, and definitely not a “hot topic” – is this how you view your “Call to Action”? If you do, it’s high time to change your attitude! Why put all that time and effort into your campaign only to throw it away with a weak Call to Action?! By underestimating this feature’s “power to convert”, you’re missing opportunities to increase your website traffic − and your campaign revenues! This may surprise you, but a good CTA needs to do a lot more than “Click here”.
Now, the Big Question: have you ever wondered about the CTA approaches you use in your email campaigns? Have you even considered the role they play in your response rates? Can you say with confidence that your CTAs are effective? If you’re not sure, or never thought about it, we’d be happy to provide with a few tips on how to get the most ROI from your Calls to Action.
Textual vs. graphic CTA
Textual CTAs are ideally suited when, for whatever reasons, you need to include more information in your CTA. If you do use this format, make sure you either underline the text, use a different a font size and/or color, or both, so it’s obvious to the reader where they need to go and what they need to do to respond. As important, remember to include a brief benefit phrase or key word to reinforce your marketing message!
Graphic CTAs, on the other hand, are usually more eye catching and distinguishable. They’re perfect for HTML messages which are already more interesting and attractive, so don’t be afraid to make them “pop”. Just as with the text CTAs, your graphic CTA must compete with a visually strong message, so the same rules apply. They MUST be clear, consistent with your marketing message, and quick and easy to deliver on those conversions! If you search for any ideas on how to create an attractive CTA, we encourage you to take a look in here.
Make sure your CTA is noticeable. There’s nothing worse than forcing a motivated reader to search up and down in order to respond to your offer. If it takes more than a second or 2, you’ve lost them! Now there’s no golden rule as to where to place your CTA; it depends on the graphic layout of your message. But whatever location you choose, remember to streamline CTA navigation so it’s easy to reach from anywhere on the page. Do a “test drive”… it only takes a second or 2!
You can use several CTAs in the same message, but remember, if your readers have to focus on too many things, they’ll probably focus on nothing at all! However, it’s a good idea to include more than one CTA if your message is longer than a couple of paragraphs. All the same rules apply of course, except “variety is the spice of life”! Use one graphic CTA, one colored text, maybe an image… or you could vary it according to the action, e.g. sign up, order, etc. Just try to limit to 3 CTAs total, and be sure to place them in different areas of your message. Keep the Big Picture in focus!
Visual design is as important in email marketing as in million-dollar ads. You’ve got every color of the rainbow to choose from BUT… your colors should work with your brand colors, the layout of your message, and target audience profile. Choosing a vivid pink button when sending a message to a white-collar segment may be perceived as amateurish, but the same color may hit the bull’s eye when teenage girls are your target. To get maximum impact from your choices, try contrasting colors for the text and button, or use bright colors – remember, they’re impossible NOT to notice! Just remember… moderation.
Bigger isn’t always better − it’s good proportion that matters! To make certain your CTA gets noticed, it’s advisable to have it about 20% larger than your logo*, but it’s not a rule. If you carefully separate it from the body text and make it pop visually, you’ll get good results as well. Try this: stand back a few feet from your formatted message to see if your CTA is clearly visible. There should be a nice balance of “white” space, text and graphics, and an easy path to your CTA, no matter what the size.
As with colors, there’s a wide variety of shapes to choose from, but it’s ultimately a matter of what works with everything else on the page. We recommend the “rule of relevance” here. Make sure the images or icons relate to your product, business, and theme. But also be aware that readers lose interest quickly, so using the same shapes over and over will definitely not keep them engaged. Finally, make sure they can tell what it is… nothing complicated or abstract. Try the “step back” trick!
Words matter. CTA buttons have more power as “imperatives” or commands (“Sign up”, “Place your order”, “Contact us”, etc.). Include the benefit gained when readers respond, but avoid dissertations! A maximum of 4 words is a good goal, as long as the text doesn’t overwhelm the graphic. On the other hand, try not to be too literal, like “To Order” or “Click here”. And it never hurts to use the personal approach, e.g. “Help me choose”. Now, a small riddle for you – what sounds more encouraging: “Request sample” or “Get your FREE sample NOW”? You’re right, the word FREE and NOW attract people’s attention more. So don’t forget to use these powerful words when you can, just be aware they’re on the SPAM list for certain fields of your message.
A good CTA not only tells recipients how to order your goods or services, it tells them what they’re getting when they “act”. So remember these guidelines, and always reinforce your value message. You’ll find it’s an extremely powerful and profitable tool when used properly. Get your CTAs right and it’s money in your pocket! Get them wrong and, well, you know…
Good luck and please share with us any stories or tips on CTA buttons/links. Your comments are welcome 24/7!
* “Call to Action Buttons: Examples and Best Practices”, www.smashingmagazine.com