6 ways to make your CTA stand out

Tried-and-true tactics to make your audience click

We talk a lot on this blog about making sure you think about your audience, taking the time to craft an effective call to action (CTA) in your email that will make them sit up and pay attention. But even if you put time into that, it may not still have the impact you desire if the design of your CTA doesn’t knock the recipient’s socks off!

So, how can you make sure you create a CTA with both the content and design required to turn heads and, most importantly, send your CTRs through the roof? We have you covered.

1. Start with design 

Let’s start with the most obvious advice. You need to make sure that your CTA is seductively clickable. You could, for example, use different color tones or give additional depth. The classic technique is to give your CTA the appearance of a button to encourage people to click.

But there are lots of other graphical techniques you can use to stand out from the crowd – 3D, shadows, or color filters. Whatever you use, save the best for your CTA. Plus, don’t forget to A-B test which technique delivers the best results.

2. Get the wording right 

Your CTA language is equally as, if not more important than, your design. You need to communicate value behind the action. What’s the reason why your email recipients should do what you’re asking them to? Building up to the CTA by telling a story can be as important as the button itself. But you might find that sometimes your wording variations can be similar – ‘contact us’ or ‘get in touch’, for example. In these cases you can use A-B testing to see which is more appropriate. 

Command verbs work like a treat, too – because for calls to action to be successful and effective, you need to be clear and assertive. But don’t be bossy. Use words that promote emotion or enthusiasm also make people click; from non-profits to hospitality brands, putting your supporter or customer in an emotive state helps spur engagement. 

FOMO is another tactic you can employ – especially with the holidays coming up. Whether it’s a promotional discount or shareable content, recipients won’t want to feel left out. 

Contact us CTA

3. Placement is key

This is more complex a subject than you may think. Often, there’s a temptation to just chuck a big button in the middle of your email. But actually, it depends on the circumstances of your message.

For example, in more regular email newsletters you may get more success including your CTA somewhere in a sidebar down the right-hand side. Or perhaps it works best in the top right-hand corner.

All of this will depend on the overall layout and content of your email. If the sole purpose of your email is to get recipients to do or commit to something, then making the CTA obvious, placing it above the fold, would be best. For instance, if you’re sending out an invitation then a massive button smack bang in the middle with RSVP will get the job done.

4. Be careful with quantity

As an extension of point three, you may find there are times when it’s suitable to feature your CTA more than once in an email. You might even have several different calls to action in the same message, e.g. one CTA saying “download this” followed by a second priority one like “share on LinkedIn.”

The catch is not to let this snowball – if you have to use two, don’t let it go any further than that and make sure it’s very clear where the priority lies. You may also want to use your design to highlight the difference between the two.

5. Testing makes perfect

There’s one way to know if your approach is working or not. And that’s good old A-B testing. It’s something we’ve blogged about before but in this case, it can really help you narrow down your design and get the best possible results from your CTA.

Once the process is complete, this evolutionary test should mean you end up with the most effective emails around. Remember though, the job is never done. So keep testing!

Check out our A-B testing ebook for more insight and inspiration…

6. When all else fails – turn images off

Any good email marketer understands that no matter how much thought and time, blood, sweat, and tears you put into your beautifully designed template, sometimes recipients will want or be forced by their email client to view your message with images turned off. As a result, you’ll also want to consider how your CTA shows up when this happens.

This may be a matter of putting in some nice background colors and rounded corners. Or you could play with fonts and text to make sure the CTA is still clear. If you want to be really ambitious, you can replace the hero image with a detailed table of colors that emulates the picture itself. Don’t forget using the alt text, too!  

So, whatever you do, make sure your CTA isn’t let down by poor design, wording, or placement. And of course, if you ever need advice on the topic, you know where to find us!


Want more tips on how to engage your audience? Check out our cheatsheet below for some more winning CTA tactics.

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