How to perfect the call to action in email marketing

How to perfect the call to action in email marketing

A CTA is a way in which marketers can drive a potential conversion using an external link that readers can engage with. While most email marketing campaigns will include a CTA, it’s important to recognise that they’re not always used in the most effective way, which can lead to a lower click-through rate (CTR).

Email marketing is a digital marketing channel that has been used for many years in order to communicate, promote, and engage. It allows for a targeted approach to communicating with your desired audience. Being able to engage with customers you know are already interested in your product or services, signified by them signing up for your emails, means that you can implement your strategy with more precision. For example, if someone has signed up for your newsletter, it means you can focus less on increasing awareness and more on a specific call to actions (CTA) or conversions.


CTA examples

A typical CTA in email marketing will often involve a strategic placement in the campaign, whether embedded within text or perhaps using large buttons and images. There is no single right way to format a CTA; it all depends on your target audience and company branding. Fun family friendly businesses may opt to use colourful and playful diagrams that can be interacted with, whereas businesses selling to other professionals may choose to use a more subtle approach. Some of the most common CTAs include “join us”, “sign up here”, “learn more”, “get in touch”, and “try for free”.

Of course, most of these are generic examples and ones that you’ll no doubt recognise, simply because they’re often effective. One of the most important aspects of a CTA is the content surrounding it; including links to your website pages and social media is easy, but encouraging people to actually click is the difficult part.


A strong subject line

The subject line is of course the first element of an email the contact will interact with. It will determine whether or not they’ll want to open the email, so it needs to be strong. Think of the subject line as the first step of the ladder for guiding a reader to your CTA. It’s needless to say that in order for the CTA to occur, the email must first be opened.

There are numerous guidelines that can be followed for creating a subject line. Firstly, keep it short and remove any unnecessary filler words. It needs to be straightforward and tell the reader exactly what the email is going to be about. Many email marketing tools will allow for a personalised tag in the subject line as well, meaning the contact’s name will be included which in turn can help increase the open rate. It’s also good practice to use relevant keywords in relation to the email topic, whilst avoiding being vague. A subject line that doesn’t describe exactly what the email is about doesn’t give the contact any incentive to open it.


The content

As previously mentioned, the content is incredibly important for a successful CTA in email marketing. This content will be what the reader uses to determine whether they want to discover more about your business or simply exit the email. The type of content will be influenced by the target audience, the industry, and the objectives that have been set out. Due to the benefit of having contacts who have signed up for your emails and therefore are already interested in your business, the content can focus less on building awareness and more on encouraging a specific CTA.

To do this, the content should be produced in a way that guides the reader to the CTA. There are multiple ways this can be achieved, using text or visual components. For text based content, you should aim to entice the reader by offering them a solution. Of course this is highly dependent on the type of business and target audience, however a general rule to follow would be including a short passage about your business, then the product or service your business is offering. It needs to be stated why the reader will benefit from what you’re offering, and why to choose you over your competitors.

A CTA in email marketing can be embedded within this text via hyperlinks. A smart way to encourage a click is to describe the benefits of a certain product or service; perhaps include an interesting fact or statistic, followed by a ‘find out more’ CTA. It’s all about giving the reader incentive to move from the email, to the next stage in your strategy, whether it’s filling out a contact form or visiting a product page. Another way of doing this is by injecting a sense of urgency; for example, ‘15% discount today only’. This naturally works best for ecommerce when limited time sales are on.


CTA formatting

Unsurprisingly, a key feature of a strong CTA is ensuring it stands out. It needs to be clear that the CTA is a clickable link that the reader can interact with. This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be extra large bright text or a button with giant red arrows pointing towards it. These kinds of features will give off the impression of spam or desperation, as well as being potentially unsafe and unreliable. It’s all about finding the balance between a CTA that is clear and stands out, without being garish.

Often when people are interested in your product or services, they’ll want a quick and obvious CTA to click, so it’s important to think about the placement of the CTA within the email. Having them embedded in the middle of a paragraph would mean they’re likely to get lost, so when using a text based CTA, it’s recommended to insert them at either the start or end of a paragraph. Buttons and visual CTAs should be after text because you want your content to tell the reader why they should be clicking the CTA.



To summarise, there are multiple elements to consider when including a CTA in email marketing, from formatting and positioning to the surrounding content. A common theme for any marketing campaign is planning and setting objectives, and email marketing is no different. A strong subject line, well-written purposeful content, and a clear coherent design will help increase the likelihood of your CTA being successful.


About Inflowing

Inflowing is a B2B marketing agency. We help B2B organisations do meaningful things with marketing. Whether that’s getting more leads, more visibility, or supporting their sales teams.

We’re an experienced team of marketers with an incredibly strong background in B2B. To learn more about B2B and improving your marketing, check out our other blogs or get in touch.

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