How to write calls to action to increase email open and click-through rates

Email campaigns have been a fundamental part of marketing strategies for as long as email has been around (since 1971, if you’re wondering). It’s tempting to think that in this new world of social media and digital marketing, email marketing is no longer effective. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to studies, 37% of marketers are planning on increasing their email marketing budget and 77% of brands have seen an increase in email engagement in the past 12 months. Plus, you can expect a $40 dollar return on every $1 spent on email marketing, which is a pretty good ROI all things considered! 

Not only are email campaigns still a key pillar of marketing strategy, but their effectiveness seems only to be increasing. That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you make the most of your next email campaign by crafting effective calls to action. Read on to find out what a call to action is and how to write a call to action for your marketing emails. 

What is a call to action?

A call to action (CTA) is a term used to describe the ideal next action that a marketer would like the consumer to take. CTAs are typically short pieces of copy placed directly after the main marketing message to communicate a clear next step for the reader to take.

CTAs can ask consumers to do a number of things, whether that be to subscribe to a newsletter, engage with a blog, or visit a sales or product page. 

Call to action examples

Here are a couple of examples of generic CTAs you might find in marketing materials:

  • For more information, reach out to our expert team today
  • Follow the link to claim your free tester pack
  • Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the next edition straight to your inbox

With each of these examples, you can see that there is a clear action for the consumer to take, usually facilitated by a link embedded in the text to make it as seamless as possible to take that next step.

The above examples are what most people think of when they think of a CTA. These types of CTAs can be considered explicit — i.e. they outright tell the consumer the next step to take. However, CTAs don’t have to be as obvious as this. You can use implicit CTAs throughout your emails to craft marketing messages that convert far more efficiently. Let’s take a look at exactly how to do that.

How to write a call to action for emails 

film crew taking action

Writing email CTAs is particularly tricky because you continuously need your reader to take new actions. First, you need them to actually open your email (this is where a strong, call to action-led subject line comes in), then you need them to read and engage with it (this is where visual cues comes in), then you need them to visit your website (the final, conversion-led CTA).

Looks like we’ve got a lot to cover! Let’s dive right in to the basics of writing calls to action…

Use a catchy CTA subject line to increases open rates

If a CTA communicates the next step that you would like a consumer to take, then as a marketer, when your email has landed in a consumer’s inbox, the next step you’d like them to take is to open that email.

This is where the subject line comes in. It is the first thing a consumer will see when the email lands and is often the difference between an email being opened or being sent straight to the trash.

Now, you could write a subject line that asks up front for the consumer to open it, but we wouldn’t recommend it! It could come off as pushy or too “sales-y”. Instead, you should try to come up with a catchy subject that clearly lets the recipient know what the email is about and grabs their attention.

Take a look at these two examples:

  • The importance for marketers and brand ambassadors of crafting effective, succinct CTAs to help increase email engagement, sales, and brand awareness when employing an email marketing campaign
  • Crafting effective CTAs: Read our ultimate guide

Which do you think is more likely to result in the recipient opening the email? Hopefully, you said the second one! It is short, to the point, and piques the reader’s curiosity. The key to a good subject line is hooking the reader before they’ve even opened the email, so make it too tantalizing to turn down.

Add visual cues to increase engagement

Once your recipient has opened your email, the next step you’d like them to take is to read and engage with the content inside. Asking a consumer to read an entire email is a tall order, so you need to make it as engaging as possible – and the structure of your email is key to this.

  • Short segments: Let’s take the blog post you’re reading right now as an example. If this post was just one long piece of text with no paragraph breaks, you would be unlikely to engage with it. It would look complicated, unappealing, and confusing. Splitting your emails into easily digestible segments is far more likely to lead to someone reading them than having long chunks of unbroken text.
  • Subheadings: We can take this a step further with the addition of subheadings. Subheadings help to organize your content and provide the reader with visual signposts to aid them when moving through it. They also highlight the key messages of each section and help with reader comprehension and understanding.
  • Emojis and images: Finally, using visuals such as emojis or images can further help to break up your text and increase reader engagement. Visuals are by no means a requirement if your copy is strong enough but a relevant image or two to split up the writing can never hurt! 

End with a conversion-drive CTA to get people on-site 

We’ve reached the final step. You’ve used implicit CTAs to get your recipient to open your email and then read the content inside, now it’s time to get explicit and tell them outright what you’d like them to do next.

As discussed above, the CTA at the end of your marketing material should be short, clearly communicate what you would like the reader to do next, and make it easy for them to take that next step. Ensure you include any links you would like the reader to follow in the CTA and make it obvious what it is you would like them to do once they have followed that link.

CTAs can request a single action that you’d like the reader to take or, if you’re feeling bullish, even a couple of different things. 

The most important thing to remember about effective CTAs is that they should be value-adding — that is, they should be directing the reader to a product or service you provide, rather than just asking them to give you something for nothing. A good CTA is essentially a quid pro quo — take this step and get this in return.

Crafting effective CTAs and boosting your email marketing engagement doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it should be the opposite. Keep it short, keep it focused, and offer value. That’s it. Now, time for a CTA of our own!

Let Scribly help

If you’re looking to create compelling marketing emails that convince readers to take action, then let Scribly craft those CTAs and related copy for you! We have in-house email marketing specialists here to help. Find out more about email marketing on our website or get in touch today.