It’s no news that inboxes get full very quickly every day. Friends, colleagues, and marketers are all sharing space within the inbox. Large volume senders need to recognize this when deciding what to ask of their recipients when they send them a message.

Any calls to action (CTAs) within a sender’s content ask something from the reader. It is best to make sure that these CTAs are clear and limited in number. Here are three key tips to keep in mind when writing and designing your email CTAs.

Be accurate

First off, when looking to direct a reader of your email to take an action, one very major word to try and avoid these days is “click.” There is a growing increase in the use of smartphones and tablets to read and interact with email. And, as we know, we “touch” these screens, we don’t “click” them. Sometimes senders forget to stop and think about how their recipients are actually interacting with their content. By analyzing your recipients’ behavior, you can create better informed copy decisions in your emails.

Be explicit

It’s also important to be clear about what you want your reader to do, regardless if they are “touching” or “clicking.” There should not be any ambiguity toward the content being promoted and the CTA that will access that deal or information. If you want your reader to click a deal to visit the site and buy that item, say that. If you would like your reader to share a deal/story/update with friends via social media, say that.

And, when choosing these CTAs, make sure that they directly correlate to your subject line and the body copy of the post. You don’t want to confuse your recipients by providing conflicting CTAs, or by including too many CTAs.

Our data science team analyzed about 17.7M emails to see if there was a correlation between the amount of HTML links in an email and click rates. As seen in the figure below, clicks significantly decrease as the numbers of HTML links in an email increase. This tells us that senders should be thoughtful and deliberate in how many links/asks they include in their emails.

Another reason to be mindful of how many links you include in your email, is that too many links (and links that are bloated by adding click tracking) can inflate the size of your email. At Gmail, oversized emails have been known to be “clipped”–where only part of your email is shown. (To learn how to avoid this, check check out our blog post that has some great advice from our technical account managers.)

Be branded

In addition to being explicit with your CTA copy and being mindful of how many you include in your post, it’s also important to make sure that your CTAs encourage your recipients to interact with your brand in multiple parts of your message. As Chad White states in his great book, Email Marketing Rules, “(Readers) see the logo in your header, the headlines, and any image in your email…Make the most of their interest by making as many of these elements as clickable as possible.” So be strategic with how you brand your CTAs (align them with your site colors, and with your site’s tone and voice), and be sure to make your logos actionable as well.

Overall, the idea of choosing CTAs for your email message is another great reminder for marketers to take a step back and really try to think of the user experience of receiving their content. Don’t overwhelm your recipients with too many asks–make the most of these clickable opportunities by being explicit, branded, and strategic.

To learn more about CTA content, design, and placement, download our guide: How to Build a Strong Email Call to Action.



Jacob Hansen

Jacob comes from a background in technical account management and delivery analysis for the last six years, and has been with SendGrid’s Deliverability Consultant team for the last two years. He enjoys spreading knowledge to help the email community send more “wanted email” and to help senders realize their full potential. Originally from Nebraska, but living in Colorado long enough for it to feel like home, Jacob enjoys a lot of what the Denver restaurant, bar, brewery and music scenes have to offer.