Writing a Call to Action in Your Email

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The Importance of Your Call to Action

It’s important to pay attention to the length of the copy that you use in your newsletter.   If your email becomes too “heavy” in content then the purpose of your email becomes confusing to the subscriber.      For email to succeed as a form of communication it needs to be clear what you want your subscriber to do.  Your subscriber needs to know why you are sending them an email.   This reason should lead them to a clear call to action.   The call to action defines the action your subscriber is to take after they open up your email.   Most email marketers do not pay enough attention to the call to action.   They painstakingly pay attention to every detail of their email template and creating engaging content only to leave the call to action as an afterthought.   As a result “Click Here!” is the most frequently used call to action. Click Here is concise and there is no doubt what you want your subscriber to do but it doesn’t tell the subscriber why they would want to.

Your Subscriber Always Wants to Know “What’s In It for Them”

Have you ever listened to someone talk about themselves for hours and wondered what they want from you?   Most likely you have to tune them out just to appear interested if you are polite or look for the easiest escape route.   There may be compelling things that they have to offer you but you’ve already tuned them out at this point.   Writing copy that sells focuses on benefits as opposed to features.     Focusing on a key feature and how it benefits your subscriber will keep them engaged in your mailing. Once you have them interested in how you are going to make their life better then it becomes your job to give them an opportunity to act on their need.    That opportunity to act is your call to action.    If you are simply describing a bunch of features without relating why someone would want those features then you leave people wondering why they should care.  

Someone that talks for hours about themselves appears arrogant and self serving.   On the other hand if that person is giving you legal advice based on their experience about legal problems that you are having then you have a reason to listen.   If they mention that they have been a lawyer for 20 years then they will continue to hold your attention.    After your conversation is finished they hand you a business card with a number that you can call.    That business card is that lawyer’s call to action.   If the lawyer simply left the room after he is done giving you advice you will be grateful for having listened but you’ll use another lawyer’s services.   If that is the case then there is no call to action.   If the lawyer hands you the card without saying what he wants you to do with it then you’re likely going to be confused.  Is the lawyer giving you his card because he wants you to be his friend?  Or is the lawyer giving you his card because he wants your business? 

If in your email you do not make it clear what you are trying to get your subscriber to do after you have gotten their attention then you are walking away from the conversation you are having with your subscriber without letting them know what you want from them.  

Be Careful Not to Bury Your Call to Action

Stay concise and to the point.    You have a limited amount of space with which to keep your subscriber’s attention.    If you have a lot to say in your newsletter it’s better to display a link to a web site that contains the full content of your message.  For example, you can leave a snippet of text with a link to read more.   A simple layout makes it easy for subscribers to act upon your call to action.   The subject line and headlines used in the layout of your email will provide your subscriber with more clues about the purpose of email.   Many people simply skim through emails without actually reading.   You can make your message clearer by using short blocks of texts, bullet points, a subject lines that relates to the purpose of your email, and headlines that form complete sentences.    It’s better to keep your email simple and to the point.   Content that is heavy and long in copy often backfires because the purpose of the email gets buried.  Minimize any distractions or non essential content from your email.   

Spread Your Call to Action Around

Your call to action needs to be clear and direct.  Your mailing should be structured in a way that is likely to generate a direct response from your reader.  The most obvious place to place your call to action is at the end of the email after the conversation you are having with your subscriber.   Is that the only way of being clear and direct with your subscriber?   No.  You might have a call to action at the top, the middle, and the end. When they read newsletters most subscribers are accustomed to being able to click on almost anything.  It could be the header of your email, the images they see inside the mailing, headlines, or text within the body of the email.   

You should never hesitate to move your call to action up in the mailing or use multiple calls to action throughout your email.  When using text for your call to action a simple way of catching your subscriber’s attention is to use a larger font or placing your text in bold print.   Do not limit yourself to text alone.  Call to Action can include images, brand names, and logos.  If you do use images then add supporting text under the image and in the “alt” tag so that your reader will know what to do if images are disabled.   A lot of email clients have images disabled by default so using “alt” tag will give the subscriber a place to go even if they do not download images on their email client.