Most emails should be written with one single, clear purpose in mind.
Usually, the main goal is getting the reader to do something (take action).
If you’re sending out a free report, the purpose would be getting the reader to download and read it.
If you’re selling a product, you want them to click on the link and make the purchase.
Now, let’s say you have your amazing subject that gets incredible open rates, your well-crafted body that instantly draws in the reader and keeps them reading…
All you need then is a powerful “call to action” that encourages them to act.
When all these parts are working in tandem, taking action becomes the logical next step for the reader.
Keep it simple and minimize friction
You probably know by now that ‘simple’ is king in the email world.
Simple formatting, simple subject lines, simple content.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the ideal call to action is also simple, easy to understand and requires as little effort from the user as possible.
It should ideally describe just one step they need to take to reach the desired outcome.
Here are a few examples of good ones:
- Buy now/order now
- Download instantly
- Read more
- Claim your coupon
There are many more of course.
Note that these all use simple language and imply that what the user wants is just a click away.
Here are a few bad ones that would probably yield worse results:
- Buy now for $24.99 + $4.95 per month for 3 months (complicated)
- Create your account to download (too much effort)
- Get a free membership and continue reading (also too much effort)
That’s not to say you can’t ever require users to create an account to access content.
But, it’s usually better to convince them about that on the page itself rather than in the email.
Every time a person looks at a call to action they subconsciously consider the perceived effort and psychological “cost” required if they were to act on it.
Consider the difference between “Purchase a subscription now!” and “View subscription options”.
The latter is much less intimidating and requires less commitment from the reader.
Which is why it would most likely generate more clicks in a real-world situation.
Keep in mind, however, that a high click-through rate is not everything.
While getting clicks to an offer is half the battle, they’re useless unless people are actually taking the desired action when they arrive.
That’s why you should never “trick” people into clicking links.
Sure, you could probably get a mind-blowing CTR by making your call to action “Click here to get a free $1,000”, but unless that’s really your offer people are only going to be disappointed and back out once they see that it wasn’t true.
Consider using a button
To make your main call to action stand out from the rest of the email content, consider using a big button.
For many years now people have been conditioned to equate clicking a button with performing an action, which is why it usually works very well in emails.
You can either use an image-based button or an HTML button.
The latter is usually recommended as many readers will be opening your email with images disabled and therefore wouldn’t even be able to see an image-based button.
Supplement with “soft sells”
It’s almost always a good idea to give the reader more than one opportunity to take action.
Say you have a certain affiliate offer you want to promote and you’re sending out a pitch for.
You may want to link to the offer early on in the beginning (soft sell), weave another link into the content somewhere in the middle (another soft sell) and then close with the “real” hard sell call to action telling them to buy now.
You may even want to soft sell it one more time below your signature in a “PS” section (those are very effective as most people read them even if they’ve just skimmed the main content of the email).
The potential pitfall here is peppering links everywhere throughout the email – don’t do that as it will look very spammy and desperate.
Test, test and test some more
If there’s one part of an email message that can yield vastly different results from small changes, aside from the subject line, it’s the call to action.
Therefore, just as you should split test different subject lines to find the best performer, you should do the same with your call to action.
Simply divide your email list into segments and send out emails with different variations of your call to action, tracking and measuring the results in click-through rate and conversion rate.