Your Complete Guide to Effective Call to Action (CTAs)

It has been proven than emails containing a CTA have the potential to boost click-rates by 371% and sales by 1617%.

Thus, it is evident that CTA is essential if you want positive results for your email marketing.

 

It is all well and good to send an email with all the features and benefits of your site to the customer.

However, if you do not provide a way using which they can subscribe or buy the product, it will be useless.

Moreover, most of your recipients already expect you to provide a call-to-action button. Not doing so might have a negative impression on your site.

digital-marketing-stats-email

The Psychology behind CTAs

The principle behind CTAs is based on the psychology of perceptual set theory.

This theory is based on the way the human brain perceives things.

This perception is what builds their expectation and motivates them.

Let’s make this visual.

Here is a simple example of perceptual set theory, developed by Bruner and Minturn in 1955:

perceptual set theory

What is that symbol in the middle?

Well, it’s the number 13,

right?

Yes, but… It’s the letter “B” if your expectations are slightly rearranged.

Admit it.

You see a “B” now, or at least you interpret it as a “B.”

perceptual theory

Images from simplypsychology.org.

Your visitors already have an experience of coming across a CTA button either at the top or the bottom of the page.

When they open a promotional email, they will naturally expect something similar every time.

However, there are ways to make it easier for your visitors to find the CTA button.

  • Make it easily available:

Even if the recipient is expecting the CTA button, there is no need to make it hard to find.

You have to make sure that every step is easily accessible and not just the CTA.

The CTA button can be a guide on how to make the purchase or how to subscribe.

  • Build up the anticipation

Design your email logically.

The first introduction to your email is the subhead.

The next part is how you greet the recipient.

You can make it a formal greeting or an informal one.

For email marketing, it is better if you go with an informal one instead. Then, include a brief and yet informative body.

In the body, you can talk about the benefits of subscribing.

Include how easy it is to subscribe and unsubscribe.

For example, the landing page on Netflix immediately informs the visitors that you can cancel anytime you wish.

The language you use in the body is what builds up the anticipation of the reader.

It should be emotional and excitable.

It should also be on a positive note.

Don’t write about the disadvantages of not subscribing or choosing your site.

More or less, the people should look forward to visiting your site.

The CTA button is the conclusion of the email. It is where all the build-up ends and the recipient can finally take action.

  • Make them curious:

It might happen that even with an easy to find CTA button, the recipient is not motivated enough to press on it.

In that case, it is your job to build up their curiosity for the site.

This depends on how you write your email.

There are certain words that help to develop a subconscious excitement in the mind of the reader.

You can use phrases like ‘discover’, ‘secrets’, ‘reveal’ and more in the conclusion or even the body of your email.

Your CTA should expose hints of what the reader can expect from your site.

However, do not include every bit of information in the email. Even if the customer isn’t interested in buying or subscribing, this will boost your click-through rates.

You know the expression “Pavlov’s Dogs.” if not read this article

Build up the anticipation

Image from Simplypsychology.org.

  • Promise a reward:

People are conditioned to expect a reward when they encounter a CTA.

Any experience we have with other sites or marketing emails have taught them that they can expect more benefits if they subscribe.

If you promise to reveal more information in your email, your recipient will be motivated to click on the CTA button.

All you have to do is use the appropriate language that allows the reader to be excited about the reward.

Email marketing is entirely based on psychology. It is built on how you convince the customers to choose your site over other. It also depends on the kind of language you use.

This is why you segment your emails instead of sending all your promotions to every email on your list.

Similarly, if you can appropriately place the CTA button, you will have better conversion rates as a result.

Where to Place the CTA Button?

You can place your CTA button anywhere you want.

However, it should be visible to the reader at first glance.

Many of them won’t necessarily read the email at all. It might be that they do not have the time.

Or, they may already know the content of the email.

In either case, if they are interested in subscribing they will be looking to the CTA button. You have to be persistent without being overbearing.

Here are a few ways you can place your CTA button:

  • At the top:

The top is the most obvious position for a CTA button. Even before the recipient comes to know what you are offering, they will know that they can subscribe easily whenever they want to.

It is the simplest position to place a CTA button.

  • At the bottom:

A CTA button at the button might not be that obvious.

But it certainly helps you to build up the expectation of the reader.

You can prep them about what they can expect after subscribing and provide hints about the benefits.

You can also describe how easy it is to subscribe and use your site. If you are promoting a product, talk about the offer.

Make sure that it is a limited offer or at least present it as one. This way, the recipient will be urged to click on the CTA button as soon as possible, instead of taking it for granted.

If you place the CTA button at the bottom, the readers will already know to expect it. 

  • As a persistent header:

This is a very subtle way of presenting your CTA button. If you place the button with a persistent header, it will be readily available whenever the recipient feels like subscribing.

They won’t have to scroll down, skipping the rest of the contents. Nor will they have to scroll up.

Scrolling up can be boring and tiresome and in a longer email, it might put the reader off. This, on the other hand, will serve as a constant reminder all throughout the email.

  • As a pop-up:

The most common way that a CTA button is placed is as a pop-up. However,

there are two ways you can use a pop-up CTA. You can either include a pop-up as soon as the recipient opens the email or when they proceed to leave it.

However, if you include a pop-up when the recipient opens the email, they will most likely dismiss it at first glance. They won’t even get to know what they are supposed to sign up for.

Even if you do want to bring the CTA to their attention first and foremost, make sure to include another button at the top or end of the email. The reader can always get back to it later on.

However, the easiest way to include a pop-up is if you flash it when they finish reading the email. You can even include it as an exit-pop up. In either case, you are allowing the recipient to get an idea of what the product is or how your site will benefit them.

You have more chances of a positive response. However, even if you are including an exit-pop up, make sure to add an extra button for the CTA as well. In case the reader does dismiss the pop-up by mistake, they can still subscribe.

  • As a floating banner:

Like a persistent header, this also ensures that your CTA is always visible to the audience. In fact, it is even easier to access than a persistent header. It is one of the best ways to improve your conversion rates as this will constantly tempt the recipient to subscribe.

Types of CTA

While the concept behind a CTA might seem simple, it is actually not so. The CTA buttons are meant to target different audiences. A simple “click-here” will not work on all of them.

If you are encouraging your recipient to buy a share or invest in your firm, you have to design your email differently from those that you send to your buyers.

Most of your visitors end up promoting your site if you manage to nail the advertising part. It goes deeper than just selling a product to a new or existing customer. You might even need to evolve as your site gets more popular over time. Here are a couple of examples you can follow:

1. CTAs without a risk:

The no-risk CTAs are a fail-proof way of convincing your visitors to give your site a chance. Even if you write up every detail about the benefits your site offers in your email, how would your recipient know whether you are just bluffing?

It is not the recipient who needs to subscribe. It is you who requires more subscribers and conversions on your site.

In that case, if you are providing a CTA for a paid subscription it might not work that well. It also might not work if you are trying to convince the visitor to buy the product without a trial.

No-risk CTAs include trial offers.

This is the best way to boost your click-through rates.

Most people will find it safe to at least agree to a trial even if they do not want to purchase the product.

If it is a paid subscription, you could offer a month of free trial, to begin with.

CTAs without a risk

CTAs with a risk-free trial comes from Textedly. Here’s the top of their homepage:

If it is a promotion for a product, you can ask them tosign up for a sample, free of cost.

If they are impressed, they will naturally renew their subscription or buy the product later on.

These are also known as lead-nurturing CTAs. This is very important because you need to convince your customers that you care more about their opinion on your product than selling the product.

It will help you to develop a better relationship with the customer and will convince them that your site is their best choice.

Another great example comes from CoSchedule, a popular marketing calendar tool:

coschedule CTA

2. ‘Read More’ CTAs:

When you are sending a high-content email, ‘read more’ CTA buttons are a good way to encourage traffic to your site.

You can write a portion of the content on the email itself and end midway. Then you can place the CTA button which will lead them to the site.

Few people are willing to leave an article they are reading in the middle. They will be curious enough to click on it and will do so, instinctually. You can add subscription CTAs on your site later on, after giving your visitor a taste of what they can expect.

Read More CTA

3. CTAs for generating leads from the site:

CTAs are primarily meant to generate leads from the website.

Your aim should be to convert your visitors to leads from which they become customers and finally end up promoting your site.

To do this, you need to be careful about how you place your CTA button.

Any position which is easily reachable and visible will do. This is mostly useful if you are promoting a product to your old or potential customer.

This is because brand promotional emails need to be more persistent with their CTA buttons than other marketing emails. If the recipient is interested in a subscription to your site, they will most likely subscribe even if they have to visit your site to do so.

But they can always purchase a product from elsewhere. Therefore, you need to ensure you are their first choice as soon as they learn about the product.

backlinko CTA

5. Product discovery:

Marketing emails are targeted at more than promoting a new product or subscription.

They could be about explaining the features of a product that has already been bought by the customer.

Or, they could even explain the general benefits of buying from your site.

In that case, you can use this to encourage the recipient to visit your site instead of providing them with the information through the email.

CTAs with a ‘learn more’ button or one with a ‘more features’ icon could be included after a general greeting and introduction. There is another way to utilize service or product discovery CTAs. Often you will find an existing subscriber or customer, visiting your site just for more information.

You can include this type of CTAs on your website as a pop-up when they browse through it.

They don’t have to include complicated graphics. You will probably get just as many click-throughs on a simple button because the visitor is already interested in your site.

google-analytics-buttons5. Event promotions:

There are many aspects of marketing and one of them is throwing an event.

However, before you do so, you have to advertise the event to your email list as well.

If you want to host an event, it is not enough to notify your subscribers when they visit your site. Some might miss the notification after all.

 

You need to make it very obvious. One of the easiest ways is to include a pop-up CTA, promoting the tickets to the event.

You can send them an email, describing the focus of the event and place the CTA at the end. Or you can also place it on your website.

While pop-ups are the most obvious, it is not the only way you can include the CTA. You can even use a persistent header CTA or a floating banner to keep the visitor constantly aware that they need to sign up for invites.

Event promotions

6. Social recommendation:

You will truly know that you have been successful when it is your customers who are promoting your site to their friends and families.

Recommendation emails are one of the best types of marketing emails that helps to build a good rapport. For the call-to-action, include a button at the end.

You can include options regarding where your customer wants to share their experience.

This could be social media like Facebook, Twitter and others. Or it could even include personal messages to a couple of friends.

It is better to include these CTAs at the end of the page, especially if you are including it in a website. If you are including it in a ‘recommendation’ email, you can place it anywhere you want.

Social recommendation CTA7. Submitting a form:

Often CTAs include more than a button. Instead of placing just a ‘Submit’ button, leading you to a form, you can directly include a CTA pop-up with a form and the button on it.

However, in this case, you have to make sure that the CTA form is very concise and includes blanks for just the basic details like name and email ID or phone number.

Anything more than that will not only take up too much space but will also be frustrating for the recipient to fill up.

You can ask for more details when the submit button has already led them to your site.

Submitting a form

8. Closing the deal:

Trial runs are good enough if you don’t want to sell out your products as fast as possible.

However, if you are already over with nurturing the lead and want the customer to make an immediate purchase, your CTAs need to be more focused on the sale.

You can include an email with a ‘Buy Now’ CTA at the bottom or in a pop-up. You can also use these CTAs if you are promoting a limited offer.

Customers might be driven by the sense of urgency that you have created with the limited period to click on it immediately.

You can also include these CTAs on your blogs that include descriptions about your product. It might be that the customer is trying to do a little more research on the product before they make up their mind.

In this case, including a sales CTA will make their job easier as they can directly jump to the purchase without having to navigate back.

close the deal CTA

What to Include in your CTA?

You can design your CTA button so that it will impress the customer to click on it.

This is far more than just a colorful button at the end of the screen.

It depends on how you present your argument and the language you use to motivate your customers.

Here are some of the commonly used CTAs:

  • Traditional CTAs:

Traditional CTAs are very simple and to-the-point scripts.

They usually include a direct offer for subscription or a link to the product page on your site.

Traditional CTAs are most unlikely to fail as there is hardly any subtlety in their approach. It merely states what you are trying to accomplish.

traditional CTA

However, in traditional CTAs, it completely depends on the recipient whether they are willing to subscribe or not.

It will probably work on most of them though. So, if you are marketing for a new site, it is better to go with the traditional approach.

Of course, you can get creative with your language. There is no need to stick to a formal tone.

Be friendly and approachable to your recipients and they will be more tempted to subscribe to your site.

When you are offering a free trial, I would recommend a traditional CTA over others. It is the first impression the customer has of your site and it might be unproductive to experiment. Moreover, convince them to respond immediately.

Again, the best way to ensure this is to remind them that the offer for a trial run is limited and they should sign up at once.

If you allow them time to think about their choice, they might look up the deal in other sites.

If it is a promotion, make sure that the discount you are offering cannot be ignored easily.

Also, make sure that the directions are clearly stated in as many details as possible. If you are including a button at the end, mention that they will have to click on that button to proceed.
directive

  • Make it encouraging:

Most CTAs are an option for the visitor to try out if they judge that the site will offer what they need.

However, you can induce a sense of positivity by writing the text in a more encouraging way.

You can convince them that they deserve the best and the best is what your site can offer. Offer them some compliments in the email or even in the CTA pop-up. They will be naturally flattered to click on the button, even if it is to just check out the site.

For example, if you are promoting a traveling agency, promise them an adventure. Choose the words carefully for some of them subconsciously have certain undertones.

Make it encouraging

  • Argue ‘why not’

In some cases, you can convince the visitor to sign up with a ‘why not’ argument after explaining all the benefits they will gain from subscribing.

It could be that your visitors don’t have a reason to buy the product or subscribe.

Even if they have no reason to subscribe, this will convince them that they have no reason not to either.

This is more applicable if you are promoting a free trial because people won’t easily take such risks if they have to pay immediately.

How to Include a CTA in your Email?

It is very easy to include a CTA button in your email.

Whichever email marketing app you are using, you will most likely find it as an option to include in your emails.

  • Log in to your account
  • Select the email or emails you would like to add the CTA to.
  • Select the CTA icon
  • Choose the CTA that you would like to include
  • You can remove or even edit your CTA if you wish to, later on.

If you want to get started using popups today, you can easily add them to your site using ConvertPlus.

ConvertPlus

First download the plugin and activate on your wordpress blog

Click on ConvertPlus and choose that kind of CTA you want to design

pop up steps

Personally, I have found that “Page Takeover” converts better when it comes to exit intent.

ConvertPlus comes with many pre design templates to begin with

Page Takeover

Select appropriate template and edit with convertplus editor

ConvertPlus Editor

You can also customize the popup by adding images or video.

Finally, hit publish, and you can start converting visitors that are bouncing from your site.

Use it today if you want to start capturing more leads from your website.

You can choose to include the CTA in one email or across multiple emails. If you are launching a campaign, it is easier to include a CTA button collectively for multiple email IDs in your list.

However, you can split-test your options.

For example, you can send emails including a pop-up CTA to one group and another with a simple button at the end to another group.

You can follow the layout of whichever produces the maximum conversion rates. In fact, if you are launching a new brand, it is recommended that you split-test your emails when launching a campaign.

Every audience responds differently and you should design your email according to their responses.

What Won’t Work: Do’s and Don’ts for CTAs

Like with everything, there are dos and don’ts when you are adding a CTA button, either to your emails or to your website.

You have to maintain just the right amount of presence without coming across as too strong or as too weak either.

It is really very easy as there are just a few simple rules that you have to follow.

Do's and Don'ts for CTAs

Here are some options that you shouldn’t even consider:

  • Don’t force your customers to sign up:

You must have come across a few sites where you find it impossible to read the page if you don’t sign up.

There are no exit options, subtle or otherwise. That is a sure way to drive off any potential subscribers. After going through your page, most of your customers might be compelled to sign up.

However, you need to be convincing in the way you present the benefits and the offers. If you don’t give them the option to choose, they will automatically choose not to sign up at all.

They won’t even visit your page again in the future. Or open any emails sent by you either.

Moreover, keep the CTA pop-up simple and to-the-point.

It shouldn’t block the view of the entire page. You can add all the benefits and conditions in the body of the email instead. The point is to keep it subtle.

  • Don’t forget to add a CTA either

On the contrary, don’t end your email without a CTA. Most recipients will not bother to look up your site to find out how they can sign up. So, you have to make it accessible for them. Even if it is just a simple button at the end, do include one.

While it is good to keep the CTA subtle, be clear as to what you want your visitors to do next. Mention the steps and the details and don’t leave it to the visitor to figure it out themselves.

  • Don’t add too many CTA:

 You can add a pop-up CTA and include a fixed CTA button at the end or top of the page.

But don’t include a CTA button everywhere possible.

That will just confuse the visitor.

Your emails should flow logically with the CTA being the final climax.

Too many CTAs will be distracting and the recipient will not bother to read the email at all in that case.

They might even get lost regarding which one to click on. In fact, don’t overcomplicate your email in any way.

You can add as many options to like on your site as you please, but your emails should be neat and concise. It saves space and time and is easier to send as well. Moreover, longer emails will not be read entirely by any recipient, you know it too.

Sum up

CTA buttons are usually designed to help your subscribers take a certain action.

Even in the pop-up CTA, you can mention the benefits of the action in a simple sentence, encouraging the recipient to click on it. Moreover, give it a personal touch. You can address the recipient by their first name, asking them to click on the button.

Among the several types of CTAs and the plethora of presentations you can choose from, make sure that your CTA button complements your site and the products you sell.

Also, make sure that you keep in mind the age group of the audience you are targeting.

If there are multiple groups of audiences, segment your emails with different CTAs for each group. You will yield better results in this way.

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