How Strategic Are Your CTAs?

A well-crafted call-to-action (CTA) is the lifeblood of an email campaign. It tells your customer what you want them to do. Not only is it attention-grabbing and interesting, but it also gets to the point. You may be missing out on conversions with potential customers if your CTA is passive, boring, or just plain irrelevant.

A good CTA stands out from the rest of the copy around it. This is probably why most brands use large buttons, flashy colors, and crazy graphics to draw attention to the CTA. According to Optimizely, the CTA needs to be relevant and inspire action. You need a strategy for what exactly will happen when the recipient takes action. Your emails should include a CTA that makes sense for the specific message you’re sending, whether the action is signing up for a webinar or visiting an online store. As Optimizely points out, recipients should never be confused about what to do when confronted with a CTA.

Using unique CTAs in different email campaigns, you can encourage specific actions and lead recipients down the sales funnel with targeted messaging. Not entirely sure how CTAs work? Here’s the lowdown. There are two basic types of CTA: hard and soft. Since the Internet has changed the way buyers research products, a combination of both is probably your best bet.

Hard versus soft calls to action

A hard CTA asks for a specific action—think “Request a quote,” or “Contact us.” Actions like these assume a specific point in the buyer’s cycle. For certain messages, hard CTAs​ are smart to include. Once a business has developed a relationship with a prospect, a hard CTA encourages them to seal the deal.

These days, buyers have access to more resources before getting in touch with companies, so they often need some encouragement before they will submit contact information. In other words, the majority of leads aren’t close to the actual buying stage, which is why the hard sell often isn’t good enough. Think about it in terms of brick-and-mortar retail. If you’re just window shopping, the last thing you want is a sales pitch from a clerk. Soft CTAs encourage additional research and allow prospects to engage on their own terms.

A soft CTA is less direct, but still requests action from the recipient. Examples of a soft CTA include asking customers to follow your brand on social media or browse the company blog for more information. Some businesses use CTAs to strategically drive customers down the sales funnel by suggesting content for them to look at next.

Getting creative with CTAs

CTAs don’t have to take the form of a big, colorful button at the bottom of your email. Believe it or not, a piece of content can be an effective CTA. Try it yourself—develop videos or other types of content that demonstrate company culture, and provide a link to your website. This is a good way to encourage viewers to visit your site without having to directly ask them.

Test it out

One of the most important parts of any CTA is testing it. CTAs are one of the easiest elements of an email to test, and arguably the most important. Doing an A/B test to check the performance of two different CTAs can help you develop more successful campaigns, whether you’re choosing hard or soft CTAs. The purpose of the email is to inspire action, right? If you can’t decide whether a hard or soft approach would be more effective, try both. Next time you’ll have a better understanding of what works.

About the author

Stirista began as an ambitious project from an apartment in San Francisco. But as office space expanded, so did our client base. After a few short years, we have worked with the largest healthcare insurance provider in the world, the biggest telecommunication company in the US, and some of the most prestigious universities in the country. We are on the preferred vendor list for a handful of Fortune 500 companies, with three of the ten largest companies in the world turning to us for...


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