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Writing Effective Call-to-Action (CTA) Copy in Email Marketing

4 Mins read

Every piece of solid marketing copy is only as effective as its call to action (CTA). Failing at the last mile sends your copywriting effort down the drain, so learning to craft compelling CTAs and employing adaptation strategies along the way is critical to email marketing success. Learn these best practices to write marketing email calls to action that convert.

Use Actionable Language

Start your CTA with a verb to compel email recipients to take action. Action verbs are a marketing staple because they elicit emotions from the audience, generate interest and establish connections. These words are impactful becausethey tell readers what to do next.

If it’s your first time writing a call to action for email marketing copy, consider these verbs:

  • Add
  • Buy
  • Call
  • Connect
  • Contact
  • Discover
  • Go
  • Join
  • Learn
  • Reply
  • Save
  • Start
  • Talk
  • Try
  • Watch

Familiarize yourself with verbs and phrases starting with a verb like “Go get ‘em, tiger” to make your CTAs sound natural and conversational.

Pick Approachable Actions

Use friendly verbs to evoke positive emotions. Some action words may cause stress and discomfort, so avoid them whenever possible.

For example, the call to action “Get started” is popular when asking people to register or sign up. “Register” and “Sign up” are also common CTAs, but “Get started” sounds friendlier and more informal.

Simplify Your Phrases

Go with straightforward words instead of their fancier synonyms. Highfalutin language has no place in CTA copy. You might come across as pretentious and risk alienating readers with narrower vocabularies. In fact, studies have shown that an email at a 3rd-grade reading level have a 36% response rate increase over those at college reading levels. Test your copy to evaluate its effectiveness and think with strategic adaptability to fine-tune your CTAs.

Having said that, be careful with generic calls to action, such as “Learn more” and “Click here.” They are clichés many copywriters have used to death. You may get away with them in ads but not email marketing copy. Cold email readers don’t expect your message, so they’re likely disinterested from the start. It’s your job to make them feel excited about your offering.

Be Brief

Keep your CTAs to two or three words. You may be able to stretch it to six words without looking jarring, but anything longer than that is doomed to fail.

Generally, calls to action are larger in size than the rest of the text in marketing copy to be legible. The longer they are, the more real estate their buttons need to occupy. Big buttons are arresting, but unnaturally wide ones look spammy.

Do your best to shorten your CTA as much as you can. It’s better if you can think of a single persuasive, simple and approachable verb.

Highlight the Benefit

Communicate what’s in it for your audience because stellar CTA copy is a two-way street. Clicking on a CTA button and performing what you ask users to do takes time and effort, so entice them to take action. “Buy now” can appeal to people already planning to shop, but “Get 50% off” will convert those who hadn’t considered purchasing anything before reading the email.

Write in the First Person

Use “my” instead of “you” to make readers feel special. Addressing your prospects and leads in first person lets you connect with them on a deeper level without sounding creepy.

Leverage Urgency

Create an impression that time is of the essence to compel your target audience to act sooner rather than later. A lack of urgency tells readers your offering can wait until they forget about it. Adding “now” at the end of your call-to-action copy makes a difference.

Setting an expiration — as in limited-time offers — can do wonders, triggering the fear of missing out. Alternatively, sell the idea of being ahead of the rest by taking action now.

Observe Coherence

Make the CTA harmonize with the subject line and the main copy to round out your marketing email. Any inconsistency among these elements will weaken your message and cause readers to bounce.

To put things in perspective, 50% of people who open your email are doing so because of the subject line alone. A CTA that has nothing to do with the subject line will disappoint readers.

Craft unique copy for multiple call-to-action buttons in the same email. Identical CTA copy is lazy writing, so ensure each piece is contextual and justifies its presence.

Embed In Text

Consider pitching your CTA through hyperlinked text instead of a button. The beauty of text-based calls to action is they can explicitly tell readers where they will land. Blatant links are more trustworthy.

Hyperlinks work best when no or only a few visually dominant design elements like vibrant CTA buttons exist. Strategically, you can use hyperlinks and buttons hand in hand to hammer home your pitch.

Borrow From the Best

Open your inbox and study the calls to action of the marketing emails you receive. The best strategies to keep improving are mimicking sound copywriting techniques and learning lessons from their mistakes.

Break Copywriting Rules for Strategic Email Marketing Adaptability

Email CTA copywriting is an art, so practice until you master it. Rules are just a guide, so many of them are breakable. Feel free to go beyond tried-and-true techniques when tests show they yield undesirable results until you craft the perfect calls to action for your email campaigns.

Jack Shaw, editor of Modded and author of numerous articles on business success and self-improvement, seeks to inspire readers with his practical tips and strategies for growth. His writings can be found on HellaWealth, USCCG and more.

Email marketing stock image by NicoElNino/Shutterstock

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