5 Email Call-to-Action Best Practices to Drive Conversions

You’ve probably come across a few calls to action (or CTAs) over the past few days, if not the past few hours or minutes. Whether you’re reading emails, scrolling through social, or ordering on a mobile app, every company hopes that you’ll heed its call to action.

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Each call to action is different, but the goal is the same: to get you, the consumer, to do something — hopefully something clear and specific. Even in a confined space, such as an email, marketers have to find creative ways to make every call to action stand out. And that doesn’t have to include MAKING YOUR CTA BIG AND SCARY, showing off with some bold text, or adding enthusiasm with an exclamation point!

People are used to filtering all that spammy noise because they see it all too often. Marketers can break through the noise with a few email call-to-action best practices.

Here are five tips:

  1. Be honest. People see enough clickbait throughout the day to know when they’re being toyed with. Let’s say you get an email from a new company; perhaps you signed up for its email list after clicking on an Instagram ad. It sends you a welcome email that has an interesting call to action at the end. It says, “We Dare You to Click Here.” While this phrasing could work, depending on how well the company knows its audience, it’s a bold risk. The call to action reads like clickbait and may come off as disingenuous to some readers.

    To avoid this, make sure your call to action is honest and clear. Audiences prefer to know what they’re getting into when they click. To know for sure, it’s best that you test multiple calls to action to find out which perform best.

  2. Test options. To figure out which calls to action get the most clicks and conversions, it’s best to test out a few. Through A/B testing, you can decide exactly how to write a good call to action because your data will tell you which options are working — and which aren’t. “Learn More From Our Blog” might perform better than “Explore Our Infinite Wisdom.” Testing each option is the best way to drive more conversions.

  3. Use action verbs. Beginning your calls to action with strong action verbs will make your message pop in every email. Take a look at these two calls to action.

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    Which one is more inviting and more direct? The first one offers both clear information and a directive.

  4. Pick a color. When you choose to use a call-to-action button instead of a text hyperlink, it’s best to pick a color that stands out from the rest of your email. For example, if you use a lot of green in the rest of the email, it’s a good practice to avoid using green for the call-to-action button. You don’t want your button to blend in with the rest of the email content.

  5. Keep it short. Imagine this text linked: Register today for the best conference to hit San Francisco this summer. Linking all of that text with that ubiquitous blue hyperlink color makes it seem like you’re calling out every part of the text, which isn’t necessary. Instead, keep your calls to action short and sweet. Readers prefer quick, direct action items, not lengthy sentences.

Using effective email calls to action can help you drive conversions, but they aren’t the only thing you need to consider for an effective email strategy. Check out more email marketing tips that break through the clutter and capture customer attention.

Email: The Workhorse of 1-to-1 Marketing – Part 6: Advocacy

Advocacy: the most coveted stage of the customer journey. If you can stroll hand in hand with a customer into the halcyon days of advocacy, you’ve achieved the ultimate marketing victory.

Brand advocates and influencers are some of your most powerful assets. Nielsen’s most recent “Global Trust in Advertising” report shows that 83% of B2C consumers trust recommendations from family and friends when making a purchase decision, and according to the “2017 State of Inbound” marketing report, word of mouth is the most trusted source of product information among B2B buyers. Needless to say, having your customers on your side is good business sense.

By now, “influencer marketing” is a term most marketers are familiar with. Influencer marketing seeks out customers so passionate about a brand that they take to social media and other digital channels to talk about it. This then empowers and amplifies those voices to reach a larger audience.

“Okay,” you may be thinking, “but how does this help me with email marketing?” Here are two brands that have leveraged the voices of brand advocates and influencers to elevate the effectiveness of their email experiences.


Specializing in low-carbohydrate options, Dreamfields is one of the fastest-growing pasta brands in the country. The brand’s success, at least in part, can be attributed to its eagerness to leverage the voices of its most loyal customers. A good example of this is its annual Pastapalooza event.

Here’s a quick tip: If a brand is aligned with a cause, this makes it easy for people to get behind it, especially with the rise of the conscious consumer. Every year, Dreamfields teams up with its brand fans to hold a Garden Fresh Basket Challenge to raise money for local food banks. Brand advocates and food bloggers are invited to submit recipes, and winners receive a donation made to a local food bank in their name.

In its fifth year, 25 food bloggers contributed recipes, more than 20,000 Dreamfields customers cast votes, and 44,000 people engaged on social. The campaign generated a rush of traffic to the website and a wave of new email subscribers.

Dreamfields also makes it a standard practice to invite subscribers to share every email they receive with their own networks of pasta-loving people. Since the products are low in carbohydrates, the brand appeals to a wide audience, including those who are especially health conscious or have diabetes.


DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit that helps teachers raise money for projects in their classrooms. Too often, public school teachers have to dig into their own pockets to pay for the supplies and materials students need to participate in activities and projects. DonorsChoose.org has a goal to alleviate this burden by giving teachers a platform to crowdfund for projects, instead of paying for them themselves. Teachers can set up projects and set financial goals.

Once brand fans subscribe to receive DonorsChoose.com emails, they are sent links to projects from teachers in their local school systems. Brand fans can then choose which projects to donate to directly. DonorsChoose.org also partners with other brands like Warby Parker and regional retail centers to run fundraising campaigns and spread its message to a wider audience. With this model, DonorsChoose.org has become one of the most successful crowdfunding initiatives operating today, and advocates are some of the brand’s most effective ambassadors.

To date, DonorsChoose.org has:

  • Raised $469,272,488

  • Helped 20,013,045 students

  • Funded 314,543 teachers for 793,901 projects at 71,494 schools

  • Earned 2,317,450 supporters

For the 2016–2017 school year, DonorsChoose.org projects that 20% of the $75 million it expects to raise will come directly from email. DonorsChoose.org uses Marketing Cloud to automate the crowdfunding process, bringing together brand fans and teachers and giving them a voice.

Check out the rest of the video series from Joel Book, Senior Director of Digital Marketing Insight at Salesforce.

Email: The Workhorse of 1-to-1 Marketing – Part 5: Retention

We talk often about attracting and converting, but one of the most critical stages of the customer experience lifecycle is retention. It’s one thing to acquire and convert a new customer, but then what do you do? Retention is not just about driving a repeat purchase, but driving reengagement with a customer who may have stepped away or lost interest. Some brands even approach their acquisition efforts from a strategy grounded first in building strong retention.

Here’s how smart brands can use email to drive re-engagement and renew relationships with customers.

The Honest Company

The Honest Company, founded by Jessica Alba as a trusted source of natural products for new moms, quickly gained recognition as a fast-growing, multi-faceted lifestyle brand. The company logged sales of $170 million in 2014 and was valued at $1.7 billion in August of 2015. It has added a new line of successful women’s products, showing that it has maintained a strong relationship with its female customers. Part of the company’s success in building these relationships stems from the ability to create personal, meaningful connections out of momentary email interactions.

Smart brands, including the Honest Company, always take the time to say “Thank You” to new subscribers. These may be small moments, but they are far from inconsequential. When the Honest Company sends a Thank You email to new subscribers, including a personal note from the company’s founders, it sets the tone for a positive and collaborative relationship. The company then sends a new member offer and a second follow-up offer if the first is not used. This approach is very successful at encouraging new subscribers to make a first transaction. 

If the new customer then goes dark, hasn’t opened or clicked anything for awhile, the company sends a series of “We Miss You” emails after 75 and 89 days of inactivity to reengage the customer and renew that relationship. For subscription or renewal-based business models, like The Honest Companys, successfully getting customers to transact a second time can be a particular problem. The Honest Company’s lapsed customer emails have a 34% open rate and a 5% click-through rate. This approach works especially well because of the personal tone established with the very first Thank You message sent to new subscribers.

Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper is an iconic brand with a reputation for attracting a cult following and a unique audience.

As a vehicle dealer, Mini Cooper maintains a customer buying cycle that can last up to three years, sometimes even longer. That means keeping customers, both new and returning, engaged with the brand over that extended amount of time. One way Mini does this is through an email reengagement campaign aimed specifically at inactive subscribers. The brand knows that email is its most direct line of communication with its customers and is essential to maintaining a consistent relationship with them.

When an email subscriber has been inactive for a period of time, Mini sends an email to reconfirm the subscription. The goals for this email are to 1) get the subscriber to click to prove that the email address is still active, and 2) get the subscriber to reconfirm his or her permission. To do this, the email appeals to the individuality and unique sense of humor characteristic of the Mini Cooper audience. It asks subscribers why they haven’t responded over time, along with a series of quirky answer answers like, “Are you in jail?”, “Are you too busy selling fundraising candy bars?”, and “Are you just ignoring us?” This resonates with Mini’s audience and does an impressive job of reengaging users.

For companies with longer buying cycles, strategies like Mini Cooper’s help to keep a brand top of mind for current and potential customers, which is critical to nurturing opportunities over time.. 

Check out the rest of the video series from Joel Book, Senior Director of Digital Marketing Insight at Salesforce.

Better. Faster. Cheaper. Why Email Automation is Every Marketer’s Best Friend

As digital marketing continues to gain increased share of budgets, marketers are more responsible than ever for driving the business and delivering real ROI.

Meanwhile, customers are on a continuous journey with your brand. They expect you to be there for them every step of the way—day or night—on the channel of their choosing. Delivering personalized, relevant experiences with every interaction is no longer a nicety. It is the mandate.

In response, it comes as no surprise that marketers are devoting more of their time to digital marketing activities (60% on average). But ask yourself: When was the last time you measured the success of a campaign by the effort required to bring it to life?

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Regardless of the size of your team or the industry you serve, automation is the key to maximizing digital marketing returns without sacrificing customer experience. It enables you to systematically coordinate your data and campaigns at scale—eliminating many of the manual tasks that 1-to-1 personalization has historically required.

While automating campaigns does require a bit more effort on the front end, the efficiency payoff is dramatic down the road. For example, let’s check out a few low-effort ways you can achieve quick wins with email automation from Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Inventory Your Email Campaigns

As a first step, take an inventory of all of your current email messages to identify those that are scheduled or routine. This often includes welcome series, weekly offers, birthday coupons, customer or employee onboarding campaigns, etc.

With Marketing Cloud, you can quickly automate any repetitive communication. Need help getting started? Playbooks will guide you through step-by-step.  Simply create the emails, schedule your list, and then let Marketing Cloud do the work.  In no time you’ll be engaging with subscribers with just the right message, at just the right time.

Personalize Your Content

Next, let’s go from mass automation to mass personalization. Suppose you want to automate the sending of your monthly newsletter—and include dynamic content for 1-to-1 personalization, and predictive content for delivering content the recipient is most likely to be interested in receiving. With Marketing Cloud automation, you are able to create highly personalized, relevant emails based on a single template. Each newsletter will be unique based on the data you’ve automatically gathered for each recipient.

Automate Your Journey

Regardless of what type of campaign you’re running, mapping the customer journey enables you to increase performance and drive customer satisfaction with always-on, event driven lifecycle marketing. You can tailor every interaction based on specific customer actions to automatically reach customers at just the right moment.

Moving forward each month, you simply need to update the dynamic content—the predictive content updates itself.  In addition, you can schedule all of your reporting so your performance data is always ready to review and share.

Drive Efficiency and Results

More and more companies are adopting marketing automation to increase efficiency, drive revenue, and gain insights into performance. And more than any other channel, email offers instant opportunities for quick wins and positive ROI.

Are you ready to work smarter, not harder? Sign up for Any Journey is Possible, a 7-day simulated experience that sends you examples of scheduled, personalized messages that customers would see. Check it out!