Make sure to click with your recipients

First up, thanks for clicking on a few CTA’s to get to this blog! We’re glad you took action and decided to check out what we have to say about optimising calls to action and how you can test those pesky buttons in your email quickly and effectively.


Calls to action are everywhere; whether you’re reading emails, using an app on your mobile or browsing a website for a new pair of shoes, you’ll be subjected to literally hundreds of buttons asking you to act.


Here’s a few you might have seen in the last 60 seconds:

  • Book a demo (top right corner!)
  • Find out more
  • See how it works
  • Download review
  • Get handbook

There are a fair few CTAs scattered across our site – spend an hour or two on the internet and you’ll see thousands. Whilst every brand in the world has a different voice and uses different calls to action, the goal is always the same: to get people to act. NOW.


What’s interesting is that Litmus’ latest report found that 2018 is the year for personalisation, automation and testing. The challenge with this is that, in practice, increased automation could mean that whilst everyone is aiming for automated solutions, A/B split testing could fall by the wayside as it’s anything but automatic. It’s manual, it takes time and it requires two (or three, or four) versions of an email to be designed, built, tested and signed off.


Working with lots of email teams, I know that they’re all maxed out in terms of resource, so finding the time to dedicate to A/B split testing can feel like a giant hurdle. For this reason, small, quick wins like CTA testing often become part of a bigger split test where other content is tested and thus the results can become somewhat muddled. On the flip side, many brands simply don’t test any CTA variables, opting to use the same CTA over and over again with no real insight as to whether it’s the best option that resonates with customers.


So, here’s the takeaway from this blog – sweat the small stuff. Those CTAs are bloody important; make them work for you. Creating CTAs that prompt a high click-through rate should be your top priority, after all more clicks have a positive impact on revenue. It’s not rocket science.


Here’s how you can deliver killer CTAs every send.


Utilise live image optimisation. Run a live test during a send to a set number of opens and then automatically display the highest converting image to everybody thereafter. Running this process on CTA buttons is a huge engagement and revenue opportunity that very few brands are actually using. It’s a real quick win.


There’s so many things you can test.


Tip 1: Language

Test the language you use in your CTAs. Remember that we’re testing calls to action, so keep the action in mind. If possible, skip unnecessary (read boring) words like submit, enter, click.


Ideas to test:

  • Formal language vs informal
  • First person vs second person:


  • Boring words vs. compelling words:



Unbounce shared a study which found that changing button text from the second person (“Start your free trial”) to the first person (“Start my free trial”) resulted in a 90% increase in clicks. Those results are dependent on products and personality, but numbers like those certainly warrant a test.


Tip 2: Colour

Buttons are better than hyperlinks so pick a colour. Or pick a few and test to see which your recipients respond to the most. You could consider testing:

  • Black and white vs colour
  • Colour reverse (test button colour and text reversed)


  • Similar colours vs clashing colours:


Tip 3: White space

Really draw attention to your CTA by giving it the whitespace it deserves. Don’t squash it into the email and let it get lost amongst other content. Give it the space and respect it deserves.


Tip 4: Formatting

SOME PEOPLE THINK SHOUTY CAPITALS ARE ANNOYING, some people like them. So test to see what works:

  • Bold text vs normal text


  • Punctuation! vs no punctuation (!.>)
  • Caps vs lower case



Tip 5: Length

Despite the length of this blog post, I prefer shorter, to the point CTAs but it’s worth testing longer CTAs vs shorter, punchier versions.


Tip 6: Size

It’s not all about size. But it could be. A bigger CTA certainly stands out more but it could be too big and irritating. CTAs should be large enough to read clearly but not so huge they take up the whole email. Test:

  • Big buttons vs smaller buttons
  • Test different sizes for mobile devices! 
  • Button shape: rounded edges vs square edges

Sharp v round-1


Tip 7: Optimise for device

Actions are different depending on the device. For example, you don’t click on a mobile. Consider testing specific CTAs based on device. Test:

  • Tap to shop (mobile) vs. Click to shop (desktop)*

*Retailers optimising CTAs for mobile have seen over 15% increase in CTR!


As an email is a confined space, your CTAs need to pack a punch, get the message across and stand out from the off. That’s a lot to ask from a little button! Utilising a live image optimiser can help you achieve your testing goals and provide invaluable insight into what your customers want to click on.


To get started, put a plan in place to test your CTAs to figure out which ones get the most clicks and conversions. Design a few options, upload them into the optimiser and run a live test in your email. After the test has run, the highest converting option will be displayed to everyone else that opens the email. It takes less than 2 minutes to build and can seriously improve email performance. If it’s not worth testing, I don’t know what is!! Testing different variants of a button across sends could be the difference between smashing your revenue target or missing them by a mile.


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