Why Your Call To Action Is Letting Your Emails Down

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So you’ve created an email campaign. It’s well-planned, features a bold header image, and is full of useful and interesting content — but it’s not converting. Your open rates are good, but your click-through rates are dismal. Why? When it comes down to it, it’s probably your call to action.

Your call to actions are the point at which your customer turns from a lead into a sale. It brings together all your email marketing efforts: engaging copy, attractive images, dazzling design — all of these culminate to lead your customer towards your final CTA. It should be powerful and compelling, pushing them to achieve a goal, be it making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or whatever result you want from them.

Why doesn’t my call to action work?

There’s a number of reasons why your call to action is letting your email marketing campaign down. These are wide and varying, but the most common ones are as follows:

A lack of continuity

Your call to action should lead on naturally from your email. It should be contextually similar to your copy and design, and any deviation from this will jar with your consumer. Take the example from U.S. retailer Macy’s, below:

macys email

Image Macy’s

It opens with a bold header promoting their father’s day sale, but then there are links to unrelated areas (women, handbags, etc), then finally a father’s day-related CTA. The overall impression is muddled, and doesn’t really adhere to a coherent marketing narrative.

Poor aesthetic design

A good call to action needs to be bold, and not just in its copy. Design-wise, it needs to jump out at the reader, drawing their eyes to it. If your CTA is barely visible or hidden away in a jumble of other text and images, it’ll be almost invisible. Consider this example from fashion retailer Reiss:

reiss email

Image Reiss

Even though they’re different tones of white, the distinction still isn’t vivid enough to make the CTA stand out against the background. Use contrasting colors to bring your CTA to center stage and draw it to your reader’s attention. Avoid muted colors and go for bold! To take it that bit further, use a free tool like Coolors to match your brand colors and use them in your CTA button.

It’s weak and timid

This is crucial. Your call to action needs to be a command, a short phrase or word that will literally tell your customer what it is they need to do. A noncommittal phrase won’t guide your reader where they should go, and they’ll just dismiss your email out of hands. Words or phrases to avoid include:

  • Review
  • Next
  • Get it later
  • Click here

These lack the commanding nature of a good CTA, and don’t lock your customer into making an action. Instead, seek words that impel an action:

  • Shop now
  • Download today
  • Sign up for free

These words give urgency to your email, subconsciously telling the reader to act, and to act now. When they read your call to action, they should feel compelled to complete the action you’re telling them to.

And to ramp up the urgency even more, add a countdown timer to indicate when a special offer ends. Many marketers report higher click-to-open rates with countdown timers, and when combined with a powerful CTA they really compel your customers to click.

So what makes a good call to action? When it comes to your email marketing, it needs to be the brightest star in the sky. It should be instantly visible, and naturally follow on from the marketing copy and design that comes before it. Finally, it needs to incite action. Don’t give your customers the chance to click away: compel them to act today!

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

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