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  Email Marketing Tips Newsletter: 

Friday, December 4, 2009

How To Create More Effective Calls To Action In Your Email Marketing

Marketers refer to any request to a prospect to take a desired action as a 'call to action'. This includes a request to buy a product, download a report, opt-in to a subscriber list, add an item to a wish list, visit a website or call an 800 number.

Calls to action are necessary because your email readers don't intuitively know what to do based simply on the information that you provide them. As the marketer, you may think it is common sense that they should now buy your product because you told them of all its virtues, but if you don't ask for the sale you are not likely to get it. It is important therefore that you not only tell your prospects what you want them to do but do so effectively. Ideally, any call to action should be clear, direct and concise.

Here are five ways to make your calls to action as effective as possible:

1. Be clear on what you want the prospect to do.


The most common call to action you'll find in an email is the simple "click here". You may argue that you cannot get any clearer than this because you are telling the prospect to click on that link. But you need to provide more information on the results the reader can get for clicking on the link. You must therefore provide a benefit for taking the action you are asking them to take.

You must also deliver immediately on what the link promised. For example if your link says "Download here" but they are taken to a review page about the product then this introduces another step and confusion in your sales process. A download button should take the reader to a download page and a "buy now" button should take them to a sales page. The key is to make your calls to action links as self-explanatory as possible with little question about the action you want your readers to take.

2. Be careful when using call to action images.

If you use a graphic button as your call to action you can be introducing some hurdles not faced by plain text links. First, many if not most email clients, as well as some spam and virus software programs, block images by default. If your image doesn't show up in the email then it cannot be clicked.

Secondly you may have a broken or missing image link which means again that your image would not show up again. Sometimes when the image shows up the hyperlink is missing and this creates another problem because the image is not clickable.

Thirdly, avoid an image placed in with an image map because this would restrict where the reader can click leading to unpredictable results. It's always safest to stay with simple text links.

3. Provide adequate links to your website.

If your call to action links are the only link to your website then you are limiting how your readers can get to your website. Consider using live links for your domain names, products and services, blogs and other resources on your website. By sprinkling links to your website all over your email you increase the chances that your readers will click on one to get there. If you wait until the end of the email to place your call to action link, then you are hoping that all your readers will scroll to the end. You should have at least one call to action link in the 'preview pane' of the email client where the reader doesn't have to scroll to see it.

4. Highlight the text links.

Your call to action links should be like stop signs - they should be clearly visible and arrest attention. You want the links to scream "Click me!" You can do this by using bolding, bigger font sizes than the surrounding text and placing them on their own line with enough 'white space' around them. Because you want your call to action links to stand out from the rest of the email, caution should be taken that other text are not competing for attention with these links. If everything stands out then nothing would. And the blue underline text is still the most recognizable clickable link, so don't try to get very fancy here with color choices and animations.

5. Use clear and concise expressions.

Some call to action expressions like "Add to cart" have become second nature to web users. A quick review of that expression shows how powerful it is - it has a built in metaphor of shopping in a physical store and it says "buy!" Your call to action expression should also be as clear and concise such as, "Go here to read the rest of this article" or "Click here to download now!" These expressions all contain action words and what benefit the reader would get from taking that action.

If you are clear and direct about the actions you want your readers to take, then they are more likely to take those actions. So rather than hoping your subscribers would read between the lines, tell them what to do.

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