This post was written to get an outside  perspective (from ActiveCampaign) of what common mistakes beginners make when developing the call to action in their email marketing campaigns. It was an interview conducted by Adam Tuttle of ActiveCampaign with Stephan Hovnanian who is the owner and Chief Mastermind of Shovi Websites

Call to Action placement in email campaigns

Adam —  When you are brainstorming with customers on how they would like campaigns developed, do you often find they really don’t have a true call to action in mind? Or do you feel that they have a strong sense of purpose with each campaign built?

Stephan — It depends largely on the type of campaign we’re talking about. Campaigns related to promotion, fundraising or signups (registrations, webinars, etc.) usually have a clear call to action, although the placement of the call to action link is typically something I have to work on with my clients. It’s important to remember to place your CTA in multiple parts of the campaign, and even use a combination of text, buttons and images to ensure you get the point across that you want someone to click through. Don’t expect the subscriber to read your entire message and then click on your “Click here” / “Donate now” / “Buy” buttons.

Newsletters, though, are an entirely different animal. What’s the real point behind a newsletter? What do you want the subscribers to do? They’re clearly an important part of your marketing mix, but the attention span of your reader is getting shorter. Finding that balance between your content, how it’s designed, and what you want your subscribers to do is really hard, and I think a big part of why someone’s newsletter might not be performing the way they’d hoped.

Multiple calls to action areas within email marketing

Adam — In your experience, do you feel that when email marketers are designing campaigns, they try and fill every aspect of the campaign with content; eliminating all white space? If yes, how does this affect the success of the campaign and the overall call to action? If no, do you think there can be too much content?

Stephan –We build custom templates according to the content going into the campaigns, so it’s a little hard to say how our clients would take to trying to fill in a “stock template” with their content. But I think for beginners, it could be a problem, yes; they’re anxious to get out there and tell their subscribers everything at once, fill in all the little tables and sidebars…but you’re going to lose their interest quickly if you don’t focus.

Generally speaking, you want to focus your reader’s attention on one idea per campaign. You also have to take into account the climbing rate of mobile consumption, especially in email. There’s this tiny screen that you’ll fill with only a few words and an image anyway; get your point across first and fast. This technique works well on desktop too, though, since we’re inundated with even more content on our monitors; a short, to-the-point email with a clear call to action is definitely going to perform better across the board.

3 Tips beginners can use to create a strong call to action

Adam — If I were a first time email marketer, having NEVER built a campaign before. What are 3 tips you would give me when it comes to creating a strong call to action as the are getting started?

Stephan — 1. Subscribe to a bunch of newsletters & email lists to see how others are doing it. When you get those emails, ask yourself “would I click?” Maybe even keep notes on the newsletters you reacted to, and why.

2. Think through the entire experience of the click, from the context of the email itself (who’s getting it and when), what they might be doing when they receive it, are they likely to be on their phone, will they click through from their phone, if so, will they be met with a mobile-friendly experience, and so forth. Sometimes you’re just going to have to test this stuff to see what works.

3. On that note, always be testing and analyzing! Use those reports, list segments and triggers to your advantage to build more intelligent campaigns.

Final Thoughts

A call to action is a critical part of email marketing.  My take away from Stephan’s insight is to always be intentional with your email marketing campaigns, and to use the tools provided to optimize the content for each and every campaign sent.