The Art of Persuasion: How to Write a Killer Call-to-Action

There are quite a few factors between you sending an email and a conversion being made.

First, once you’ve made your email, it has to reach the target’s inbox. The rate at which your emails are reaching their target inbox is called email deliverability, and it’s only the first step to conversion.

Once your email is in the target inbox, then you have to stand out among the crowd of unopened emails with a powerful subject line. After all, if you don’t, then you’re bound to be missed or, worse, the trash. The rate at which your emails are clicked in the inbox is called CTR, and it’s just as important (if not more so) as deliverability.

If you do stand out and your target clicks on your email, there’s a final barrier between them and your website: what I’ll be talking about in this article; the call to action (or CTA).

While this isn’t the final step, it is one of the most important steps in the conversion process and is the one I’ll be covering here.

To clarify what I mean when I say CTA…

What is a call-to-action (CTA)?

A call-to-action (or a CTA) is your chance to tell your audience what to do.

For example, if you want to drive your audience from their inboxes to your website, your call to action should tell them that. Say something like “learn more” if your audience is still in the awareness or consideration phase of marketing, or “buy now” if your audience is on the cusp of a conversion.

If the people you want to click don’t know what you want them to do, they won’t click.

Thus, in short, be very clear with your audience on what you want them to do. Don’t overshoot it though; if your prospective customer is still discovering your brand, don’t hit them with the “BUY NOW!” quite yet, even if you do just want them to buy now.

How can I write optimized CTAs?

1. Use Strong Command Verbs

The most important part of your CTA’s copy is the first part an audience sees, so make it count.

For example, if you’re running an e-commerce store, your CTAs should start with words like “buy” or “shop”; words like “download” or “find out how” don’t really fit the situation.

In contrast, something like “we have what you want” fits the situation, but it’s a little long and doesn’t actually ask your audience to do anything. It sure implies it, but you want to be as direct and punctual as possible.

2. Use Emotional Words & Punctuation

As mentioned in the previous point, “buy now” is a pretty good CTA, but it doesn’t have any emotional intent. There isn’t really any enthusiasm to it, and while it is clear in its intention, it doesn’t provoke people into following through.

“Buy now, and get 50% off!”, however? That sounds more appealing.

You’re giving your audience a reason to click because you’re giving them a benefit, and who knows how long that’ll stick around (spoilers for the next point).

As for punctuation, an exclamation point at the end of your CTA conveys a little extra enthusiasm in your message and gives it a little extra oomph as well.

3. Take Advantage of FOMO

FOMO, A.K.A. the fear of missing out, is a very powerful tool you can use to effectively drive conversions (if done right). When your audience thinks they might lose out on an opportunity that might not come back, they’re more likely to take advantage and convert now.

Most often, FOMO is used in CTAs when a company is mentioning a sale or a promotion. Messaging like “Shop now; sale ends on Monday!” takes advantage of this, creating a sense of urgency in your audience’s minds.

Alternatively, if your inventory is running low, you could include messaging like “buy while supplies last!” in your marketing, which is a tough-to-ignore prompt, especially if a customer isn’t sure the product will ever come back.

Note: be sincere about something like this. Nobody likes a liar.

To add to the sense of FOMO, you can include a ticking timer in your emails, like a clock counting down the hours until your sale or promotion is over. In my experience, these are kind of nerve-wracking, but that’s kind of the point.

4. Speak Directly to Your Subscribers

Another subtle thing you can do to connect with your audience more is to use first and second-person pronouns. As opposed to not using pronouns at all, the use of first and second-person pronouns helps the audience envision themselves buying or using your product.

For example, look at this CTA from MyGiftCardSupply.

Instead of something like “Get 10% off”, MyGiftCardSupply says, “Snag your 10% off”. As a viewer, this makes it feel more like the discount is specifically for you, as it is yours after all.

5. Accommodate for Mobile Devices

According to Campaign Monitor, 81% of all emails are opened and read on mobile devices.

Considering how much of your audience could be opening your emails on mobile, it would be foolish not to make accommodations for them.

In short, make sure that your CTA buttons are both easy to see and tap on mobile devices.

Also, keep your CTA button above the fold. This isn’t exclusive to mobile devices; always ensure your most important information is at the top of your email. This increases email scannability and calls more attention to your main message.

6. Get Creative

This is the tip with the most risk involved that I’ll give you. It’s tempting to stick with your essentials like “buy now” or “learn more”, but everybody does that. Set yourself apart from the crowd by changing up your language and making your CTAs a little more unique.

For example, instead of “learn more”, you could say “don’t miss out”. This creates a sense of urgency while piquing the interest of your audience.

The downside of getting creative with your CTAs is that you could run into a few duds along the way, and that’s why A/B testing is so important. Always be willing to try something new, but don’t do it blindly.