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Brush up your call to action

Every email marketing piece needs to have one. It’s the call to action that capitalises on your perfectly constructed content, inspiring interaction and ultimately converting readers into customers – so what are the ground rules?

You have reached your destination

No matter how entertaining your email content, you’ve got to be leading your readers towards a goal. Think of the call to action as the moral of your story, the inevitable conclusion to a compelling tale. It could be as simple as ‘buy this, here, now’, but it doesn’t always have to be a clarion call to purchase. If your email is designed primarily to help build your audience, engender loyalty and enhance your brand, for instance, your aim may simply be to drive traffic to expert resources on your website, promote engagement or to signpost help and advice. Whatever your objective, make it as clear as day and don’t force your reader to work it out for themselves. Tell them what to do (buy), how to do it (click here), what they’ll get (50% off) – and ask them to do it now (free bonus).

Go easy on the kumquat and red pepper

It’s a complicated world out there and while it’s great to have choice, too many options can lead to a sensory overload. You might have more ordering combinations than there are varieties of ice-cream, but by the time you’ve listed every flavour, up to and including your company’s equivalent of coconut, basil and lime ripple, you’ve probably lost out on the vanilla sale that would have made everyone happy. So stick to some popular options, whether you’re selling stuff (this chair in scarlet, plum and silver) or services (2 x blogs for £100). Include easy-to-follow ordering instructions and strong action words that motivate readers to respond. Nobody likes it when you’re too strident, though, SO DON’T SHOUT or insult anyone’s intelligence.

No time like the present

We moved to our new house almost 18 months ago and yet there’s still a 3-metre stretch of floorboard in the hall that needs sanding and varnishing. Why haven’t we got round to it yet? Because now we’re in and, as far as I know, we’re not expecting to receive any local dignitaries, so there’s no urgency. Human nature being what it is, we’ll always procrastinate if we can get away with it, so it makes sense to make your email offer time sensitive. By limiting the duration of an offer or including an extra bonus for a prompt response, you can add a sense of urgency to your call to action. None of which is helping me to finish my DIY, by the way.

Enough, already

There’s a holiday company that’s always bombarding me with special offers via email and it’s beginning to wear a bit thin. I was maybe hoping for some interesting features on unusual destinations, tips for dining out in European cities and stories of other holidaymakers’ experiences but all I get is weekly ‘deals’, all of which are falling on deaf (and slightly irritated) ears at the moment because I’m not planning a break. There’s a salutary lesson here: if you’d like to build up a loyal following and don’t want your prospects to bin your emails as soon as they pop into the inbox, make sure your communications aren’t just a sales pitch. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish in the long term, and design your emails – and your calls to action – around that goal. Offer customers the opportunity to take advantage of a special deal, by all means, but don’t make that all you do.

Diane Nowell
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Diane Nowell

copywriter at copywritten
copywriter and communications consultant with more than 20 years' experience working with clients on commercial and corporate projects in the UK and Europe.
Diane Nowell
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