Designing the Perfect Call To Action

When using email marketing its imperative that you include a call to action, otherwise what’s the point? Imagery, text, offers, charts and links will help differentiate your campaigns and catch your reader’s interest, but getting them to open the email is only half the battle. You need a click through.

Your call to action needs to inspire, be powerful and compelling. Because you need the reader to click, your call to action should encourage the reader to do something, make a purchase, request information or visit a page. Is designing the perfect Call To Action a tall order? It’s not as hard as you may think


Here are our tips on how to do it the right way:

  1. Format

Call to actions (CTAs) can be a multitude of formats. They can be text or image based, and buttons often work better than text links. Make sure there is a relevant landing page behind the click.

  2. Language

Use no nonsense language. Tell your readers why they should click, and what they will get out of it once they’ve done so. Use strong action-orientated verbs to add a sense of urgency.

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  3. Content

The content of the email should be engaging and encouraging. The body of the email should support your CTA.

  4. Size

Readers usually scan the content of an email so make your CTA button/link/image is prominent. Don’t go too far though. Make sure the text in the button is legible and suits the size and colour of the button itself.

  5. Colour

Use colour to draw attention to your CTA. This should still be within the colour theme of the rest of the email, but should allow your CTA to stand out.

  6. Placement

Usually the most effective place for a CTA button is before the fold, the part of the page that is visible before the recipient has to scroll. If you place the CTA higher in the email, this gives you the chance to draw a response from readers who are too busy to scroll.

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  7. Repetition

Repeating the CTA gives it more weight. Give the reader multiple opportunities to click through in your message by placing clickable elements throughout.

  8. White space

Make your CTA prominent. Do this by balancing the size of the button with white space surrounding it.

  9. Icons and images

Increase conversion rates by incorporating visual cues, e.g. add an image of a shopping cart next to your ‘Add to cart’ button, this is recognisable and helpful.

  10. Bulletproof buttons

Although image based buttons command higher click rates, they can get trapped by filters. Combat this by combining HTML test, background colours and images to create a button that will be visible even when images are disabled. Always include a plain text version just in case.



How to create a Call To Action the wrong way:

  1. Content

Match the tone of your CTA to the tone of the email. Avoid abbreviations, unfamiliar names and potentially offensive terms. Use subscriber friendly language.

  2. Language

Don’t use a passive voice. Create a sense of urgency. Don’t use ‘Click here’ as this doesn’t inform the user about what will come next.

  3. Size

Your button should be large enough to stand out, but not overwhelm. It should be too small either or it will get lost.

  4. Icons and images

Avoid adding images that your reader won’t recognise, or that are misleading to the purpose of the button or link.

  5. Placement

If you need to have more than one CTA in each email, avoid bunching them next to each other; this can overwhelm the reader.


  6. Missing link

Viewers often click logos, brand names or images. Make sure all these are linked so you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

  7. Mobile

Don’t forget your mobile audience. Buttons should be touchable, and at least 44x44px so that your campaign is fat-finger proof.

  8. Tired and untrue

Don’t get stuck in a rut. Run simple split tests on buttons and links to test everything from language to graphics and more.


Have you found the perfect recipe for a great Call To Action? Share it with us below.

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