Email Marketing - 6 strategic uses of the 'call to action'

An essential characteristic of both off and online marketing, the “call to action” is a well known tool, used to encourage prospects to transact or take action in some way.

Email marketing is one online marketing communication tool which uses the call to action method effectively and is known for high conversion rates.

This may be because email marketing allows calls to action to be presented attractively, to the right person and at the right time for the chosen target market. (There has been a lot of research into the best time of day to email your customers, the time and the day you send are usually determined by the target audience and the product/service offer.)

In an online environment, such as email marketing, the call to action commonly appears as a ‘click here’, ‘contact us’, ‘buy now’, ‘subscribe’ or ‘download’ instruction.

One of the reasons the “call to action” is so popular on the internet and for online retailers, is that it can be used to reduce the number of clicks needed on a user “click through journey”. The shorter the click-through path, the more likely your prospect will complete desired conversion or action.

Calls to action are also used in other places on the web, but if they are not presented in a targeted environment, these messages may appear spammy – or worse – may not be noticed by the user as they ‘zone out’, skim reading to avoid of all the irrelevant information fighting on-screen to grab the eye.

Here are a six tips on how to use your call to action for optimum results:

1. For online retailers (e-tailers) an effective email marketing call to action should encourage your prospects to buy! This may sound simple but many people shy away from the direct approach, forgetting that the reason your prospect is looking at your page is because they have already chosen to be there! People want to shop, the question is when do they transact? Your challenge is to involve your customers, encourage them to take the next step on the buying decision process WITH YOU by making that process as easy and user friendly as possible.

2. You should also consider when building your web page that a smaller number of calls to action will have a greater impact and be more effective than a page covered with areas that demand a click. You want your customers to identify and act upon your message, not be torn between knowing which area to click first.

3. Another good tip is to optimize the position of the call to action banner. The best way to do this is to place it above the crease and to center of the page in order to draw the eye more effectively. You should choose the colour, size and space around the banner to ensure that it stands out.

4. Use direct language! Web users are more responsive to this type of language, for example use “now”, “before 12pm” or “available for the first 10 buyers”. Online retailers need to motivate users to take action IMMEDIATELY. Users are more likely to be impulsed in this way, which is important as your message is fighting for the attention of your customer EVERY SECOND they spend online.


5. A proven method which works well for many online retailers is a free trial. Once the customers have tried something and have experienced the advantages of the product, they will find it easier to take the next step – the purchasing decision! This is because you have removed the risk associated with the unknown.

6. In your email marketing plan, don’t forget to leave your e-shoppers with a positive impression of your company and products. If they are not buying today, they will have had a good experience and will feel comfortable about coming back to transact another day – they may even recommend your product/services to their friends.

In conclusion, the call to action in your email marketing campaign can be a useful online retail tool if you use it properly. Don’t go overboard but do make your message clear and ensure it stands out from the rest of your content.