How to Write a Better Email Call-to-Action

Four email copywriting and design tips for getting more people to read your email and buy your product

Back in the day, you’d get an elaborate direct mail piece that may have lasted three to five pages. With the luck of a talented copywriter, you might even get people to read the entire letter, but they might at least skip to the end after reading through.

This method doesn’t work in email because people don’t like to scroll. They want to know right away, what you’re offering so that they can determine if they want to read the rest of your copy.

People often navigate their email inboxes with their mouse on the “delete” key. This means that we need to show the call to action, with an urgent deadline or otherwise timely discount above the fold.

Follow these guidelines if your call-to-action isn’t quite giving you the “action” you were hoping for:

What’s you headline telling the reader to do?

Your reader will open your email promotion or newsletter with a blank slate. Within 2 seconds, you need to convince them that you’re offering something they want.

Don’t distract the visitors by confronting them with several different products or a confusing multi-order offer. Instead, write a forceful headline to capture their attention and interest.

Far too many emails fail almost immediately by offering up lack-luster headlines and subheads. Any good promotion delivers a compelling headline for a single product or service.


Is the product image above the fold?

Using the right product shot in your email newsletter can increase response rates by 20-30%. As humans, we are drawn to shiny things. You can have a 200-page book, but when you add pictures, examples and visual case studies to a page, you’re keeping the readers’ attention for longer, while they examine the image.

Have you tested your email template?

Almost every email service provider will offer you the ability to split-test your email campaigns. Think about these variations that you will want to consider when you’re testing:

  • Where should the featured product be introduced?
  • Does an in-line text ad beat a banner ad?
  • Does a product review generate greater response?
  • Should you link into the sales letter landing page, or straight into the data collection page?
  • Should you offer the reader an opportunity to “Read more” or “Buy now”?

Any experienced direct marketer, working with an online newsletter editor, can think of 10 variations of the email template to test. And because we’re all so new at this, typically five or seven out of 10 changes will produce an improvement!

Are you making the sale urgent?

The prospect has opened your email. They’ve been enticed with a great story and you’ve made it easy to order. Now you must provide a strong incentive for them to buy right now. Providing urgency is key to a successful email promotion.

Do you have any other specific examples or tips to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments!


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