For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Crafting Killer CTAs From the Website to the Inbox




As a marketer, your job is to convert casual website visitors to lifelong customers, friends and fans of your brand – but getting them there can feel like a daunting task. The savviest marketers know that a great call to action can make or break your user’s experience, so it’s absolutely critical that you fully optimize your CTAs for every step of the buyer journey. Luckily, experts from SpaceCraft and Emma are here to help you do just that, creating a frictionless pathway from your website to the inbox and back again!

Jamie: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for our presentation “Emma + Spacecraft: Crafting Killer CTAs From the Website to the Inbox.” I am Jamie Bradley. I’m a Content Marketing Strategist here at Emma, so that’s this voice that you hear talking to you right now. Just a few housekeeping notes before we do jump in. We will send the slides to you and the recording via emails. If you need to hop off or just want to show this content with a friend, we got you covered. We will be doing Q&A after today’s presentation so if you do have questions, just type those directly into the GoToWebinar chat modal [SP] and we’ll be scooping those up as we go through today’s presentation. You can also tweet at us, @emmaemail, using the #BetterCTAs, C-T-A-s, and we will, you know, also respond to you there and add those to our roster at the end. So be thinking about what you want to say or what you want to ask.

So just to kind of get it started, so who is Emma? I know we have audiences both from SpaceCraft and from Emma. So if you’re unfamiliar with us, Emma is an email marketing service. We’ve been around for about 12 years. We have, you know, a solution for all sorts of businesses, a platform for franchisers, retailers, universities, agencies, the whole nine yards. We help lots of folks, you know, make, send, track their emails, automate those processes as well. And we have offices in Nashville, which is where I am today, Portland, New York, and Melbourne, Australia, believe it or not. So very excited to be in front of all of you guys today.

And I am joined by two wonderful fellows that I have really enjoyed working with on today’s presentation, Stuart Frazier, who is the Director of Operations at SpaceCraft where he oversees the creative services and online marketing teams. Prior to SpaceCraft, Stuart was the Digital Media Director at LIN Digital, serving the needs of 71 television stations across 48 U.S. markets which sounds like a lot of work. Overall, Stuart has been involved in online marketing for 12 plus years and enjoys talking with other entrepreneurs about how they’re innovating their industry.

And then we also have Clark. Clark Menge heads the Business Development at Spacecraft where he works to build the agency as a software partnership program. Clark joined SpaceCraft three plus years ago and he’s passionate about entrepreneurship, the SMB space and the positive influence it has had on those industries. So really, really excited again to have these guys with us. They’re super smart. And I’ll let them actually kind of tell you a little bit more about SpaceCraft, and then take it away. They’re actually gonna start us out and then you’ll hear from me again. And then, again, we’ll take questions at the end. So, guys, tell us more about SpaceCraft.

Clark: Great. Thank you, Jamie, for that wonderful introduction and thanks to everybody who is joining us this afternoon. This is Clark. So you can maybe recognize my voice, distinguish it between mine and Stuart’s when he starts talking as well. But SpaceCraft is a web design platform based in Austin, Texas. We started building the platform about five years ago and our goal is to break our client’s dependence on developers in order to build, maintain, and update your web presence. So the SpaceCraft platform builds websites that are mobile-optimized out of the box and our design tool leverages a code-free designer so that you can build a website without having to learn how to write HTML or any other code languages for websites.

And we specialize in that SMB space, so the small to medium-sized businesses, and are working to build out our agency [inaudible 00:03:54] has been very great to work for us and we’re excited to talk a little bit more about what we can do to help you with your small business marketing.

Jamie: Very cool. Well, I’m sold. We’ll talk after this. So to kick things off, again, we’re here to talk about “Crafting Killer CTAs from the Website to the Inbox,” and, obviously, we have some website experts here. So I’m going to go ahead and hop into the presentation. And, guys, enlighten us and then we’ll chat about email a little bit later. Here we go.

Stuart: Excellent. Thanks, Jamie.

Jamie: Yup.

Stuart: All right, so first off, we realized that there are a lot of acronyms that are used in the marketing space. So we thought, “Hey, let’s start out by outlining what a CTA is.” Wikipedia defines a CTA as this: in marketing, a call to action, or CTA, is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response usually using an imperative verb such as “Call now,” “Find out more” or “Visit a store today.” So, obviously, the main objective of a call to action is to tell your customers exactly what you want them to do. Customers should not have to think about what you’re wanting them to do when they land on your website. It should be made abundantly clear by using effective call to actions.

Okay. So now that part’s out of the way, you know what a CTA is, what it stands for, Clark is gonna jump in and kind of talk a little bit about some stats on how businesses like yours may or may not utilize call to actions.

Clark: So you may or may not be surprised to hear that most websites don’t feature or use call to actions to their full potential. The main goal of your website, when you think about it, is to inform a customer or a potential customer your offering and engage that user quickly and effectively. The content and design of your website, especially the homepage, is going to be the best way to do that. So what I like to do is I like to talk to people, when they ask me, when they’re planning their website, “What do I do? How do I design my website?”

Think of it this way. Think of your website not just as an online presence but think of it more as if it were a physical storefront on the main street of a small town, and your homepage is that window display. So the call to actions that you place on your website serve the same purpose as an open or a sale sign placed in the window drawing people inside. If no one can tell that you’re open or if the items you sell can’t be clearly determined from the window, then they won’t know to come inside and explore.

So when designing your website, you need to think about what the main goal is and make it clear not only on the homepage but throughout the entire website. We included some stats that we found on this slide that talk about a little how marketers are not utilizing CTAs as they should. So every page someone visits within your website is another chance to engage that user. So what you want to do is make sure you have clear call to actions on your homepage so that people can quickly and easily figure out what it is that you do and engage you and then keep those consistent throughout the website.

So if they land on a different page or if they are perusing the rest of your website, they know how to interact with you. And then, lastly, you just want to make sure that those clear call to actions are built in a way so that people know what you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s “Buy now” or “Contact me.” We’ll talk about those in a little bit more detail.

There are also many types of call to actions, and if we could go to the… There we go. Thanks, Jamie. But we’re gonna focus on a select few that are kind of the more common ones. We’ll get into some specifics and show examples but we thought we’d highlight quickly what these main CTAs are and their purposes. So, right off the bat, buttons are the ones that you’ll probably think of. They’re typically the most common. These are gonna direct your customers to do a certain action. An example of these would be “Try us for free” or “Buy now.”

A phone number is another one and it’s pretty obvious, that one is to get your customers to call you. Obviously, that example is gonna be “Call now” or just a big phone number and on the homepage or on the header of your site. Another one that a lot of people don’t necessarily think of is the live chat which is a great way to directly engage customers and either answer questions or direct them to appropriate places on the website to find information. And so it’s a great way to engage them when they’re already captive without having them perform another action like a phone call or an email.

And then social sharing is another one that a lot of people don’t necessarily think of from a call to action standpoint. And this one encourages your brand promotion but this one reaches people that you may not necessarily get to by having your followers promote your offering to their friends on their social channels. The “Contact us” one, or “Contact,” this is another one that is pretty clear. People want to contact you for either more information or to have someone contact them for maybe a consultation. And then the email signup form is one that I’m sure you’re aware of. That one is great to build your email database so that you can market to these users outside of your website. And we will again talk about these in a little bit more detail and show some examples of how to best design this.

Stuart: Awesome. So let’s take a look at buttons. So, as Clark mentioned, buttons are typically the most diverse call to action you will see online. Buttons can direct your customers to do a multitude of things by simply changing the text within the button itself. This is fantastic because it allows you to A/B test your messaging without having to impact the design of your site. In this example, you’ll notice that we have the SpaceCraft website pulled up and you can tell it in seconds of landing on our homepage what we want our customers to do. We may be a little bit bias but you can check out our website, that’s I figured I had to put a little plug in there somewhere.

But you can see right off the bat what do we want users to do when they land on our website? We want them to try us for free. That’s it. We don’t necessarily want them calling. We don’t want them filling out a form. Or we don’t necessarily even want them clicking to chat with us. We simply want people to dive directly into our content management system and then start playing around with the tool itself. And so that’s why you can see the big green buttons that call people’s eyes directly to the call to action that we want people to take. We included the desktop and mobile version just to show you that you want to make sure that you factored them in both. Whenever somebody pulls up your website on a mobile device, that whatever your main call to action is, that’s what they’re gonna see first and foremost.

Clark: And I also like to jump in and talk a little bit about design of our buttons, and there are a few common themes that you’ll probably pick up one as we talk about design for call to actions. These buttons that we use are bright green. It contrasts nicely with the background image and the header background color which makes it jump out to the visitor. It says, “Click me.” And, additionally, the green is part of our branding so it doesn’t seem too out of place on our website. So when considering the color for buttons and other call to actions, think about what are the colors that you use routinely in your branding and what’s gonna work nicely and what’s gonna be a contrast to the other content that you have on that page.

You’ll also notice that we’re not using flashing backgrounds or starburst or other elements that may be visually unappealing or may not fit with our brand. So as I mentioned, it’s important to maintain your overall brand and design aesthetics even through your call to actions. And, for instance, you may hear people advising against red as the primary color for a call to action, but there’s some situations where that may be appropriate, like our next example here.

Stuart: Exactly. So phone number is red. You’ll notice on this example, their main call to action is phone number. When you land on the website, the first thing that you see is this big, bold, red call to action with their phone number. And so phone numbers are another great call to action. The one caveat to that is they’ve got to be used appropriately. And so you’ll typically see phone numbers as a primary CTA for service-based businesses. A lot of times, this includes pest control as the example you see here, lawyers, handyman services, and other service-based professionals.

So as I mentioned, phone numbers are great if they’re used appropriately. They can, however, be poorly used. And [inaudible 00:12:39] an unwritten rule of SEO that search engines want to see your name, they want to see your address, they want to see your phone number on your homepage to help improve your rankings. And so companies started incorporating what was called the NAP, the name, address and phone, to all of their pages which led to companies who did not necessarily need a phone number on their homepage. And so Clark is gonna mention kind of some things as to why phone numbers can be used poorly in certain situations.

Clark: Right. As I’m sure most people can agree with me, few things that are as frustrating is calling a business and getting placed on hold or immediately being, you know, put into a voicemail. So if you don’t have a knowledgeable staff that’s kind of at the ready to answer the phone, then you may want to avoid making a phone number your main call to action. If that’s the case, you might want to think about doing something like a contact form or another call to action. But the ability for someone to pick up the phone quickly and answer that questions is a must if you’re gonna be promoting your phone number.

Another thing to consider is, again, think about mobile. Mobile is so important now that over half of all Internet traffic is coming from mobile devices. You want to make sure that phone numbers are actionable on a mobile phone. So today’s website should only use responsive and adaptive design. Responsive design is gonna mean that the website actually responds to the size of the screen it’s viewed on so it’ll scale with screen size. And adaptive means it knows what device it’s being viewed on and so it adapts. So phone numbers become tap to dial. So that’s what I mean by actionable on a smartphone.

So somebody sees the phone number, if they tap it, it brings it up and they’re able to dial it. The other thing with that too is you want to make sure that email addresses are also actionable. I know that’s a little different than the phone numbers but that’s just something I’ll mention there, too. And then similar to phone numbers on our next slide here, a way to engage your users directly and very quickly is to use online chat. So it’s most successful to use via website where that main goal is, again, just speak directly with your customer quickly. So the customer has a question, whether it’d be a sales question or a support question, they can quickly and easily get that remedied.

So just like that phone number, you want to make sure you have a knowledgeable staff ready to respond to incoming questions or requests. If you aren’t available 24/7, then spell that out and let someone know because you don’t want somebody waiting for a support question only to have no one there to answer and then they have a bad, you know, support or a sales experience.

So Emma is a great example. Their team is there from a certain period during the day, and when they’re not available or if they’re not available, like many chat offer lets you do, there’ll be a place to leave them a message. Chat is also another thing you need to consider from a design perspective. So, oftentimes, a chat window or a tab can be intrusive. And so you want to make sure that important information on your website is not hidden by the chat window. You also want to make sure that that chat window isn’t popping up over and over again as users are clicking through the different pages.

Stuart: And on the next slide you’ll see social sharing. So we’re all familiar with this just in the day of age we live in. But social sharing call to actions are a great way to get other people talking about your product or talking about your services within their sphere of influence. And so you’re typically gonna see these CTAs within interior pages of a site, usually alongside a blog or, like in the example here, you’ll see it alongside an event. If we think back on the slide that Clark went over at the beginning of the presentation that had the percentages, you’ll see that this is a great way to not fall into the 72% of businesses who don’t have call to actions on the interior pages of their website.

And so it’s hard to believe that a lot of people are, you know, doing the job of having call to actions on the homepage but then when you get into these interior pages, you stop telling and instructing your customers really what action you want them to take. And so social sharing is a great way to have this and it doesn’t have to be the only one. I think something we haven’t mentioned on this call is that you don’t have to use one or the other. You want to use as many of these CTAs as are necessary for you to reach the customer base that you want to reach. If phone numbers make sense and you have people there ready to answer the phone, have phone numbers. But if you also have people that are ready to take chat, have a phone number and a chat and then incorporate something like social sharing around the type of content that you’re producing and putting on your website.

And so a lot of times, you’ll see these social share features, as I mentioned, alongside a blog or alongside an event and this is just a great way to incorporate it into your interior pages. But another thing that goes along with social sharing that Clark’s gonna get into here in just a minute is also just email capture. And so where you had put social sharing is also a great place to where you can incorporate an email signup form.

Clark: Exactly. So last but not least on our end, the all-important email capture. So the previous call to action examples have all been ways to market and engage with your customers while they’re on the website. But the big question is how do you actively market to your users while they’re not there? And so email, of course, is the best way to do that. So I’m sure Jamie will agree that the best list are those comprised of either existing customers or people who had shown clear interest in your product or service.

And so, obviously, the best way to capture these email addresses is through your website while the user is engaged. So several ways to do this, the most common is just a simple email signup on your website. You can notice here on the example, we have it at the bottom of the homepage so as you scroll through the content on this particular website, when you get to the end of that content, it’s a quick call to action, “Stay up to date, join our mailing list and give us your email address.”

The email signup should be very easy to find, and then think about the language that you use to encourage the signup. “Sign up for inclusive offers” or “Signup and receive 25% off your first order.” Remember, the more emails added to your list, the more people you’re able to actively market to via email after the fact. So, again, we want you to think about design. Plan for mobile design and make sure it looks good on a smartphone and tablet, and then you should also keep to the similar design [inaudible 00:19:23] buttons which means maintain your brand identity, but always using colors, font, size, to make it stand out. You can put it in a sidebar, for instance, so it’s on every single page. You can put it in a footer so it’s in every single page. But you want to keep things consistent from a branding standpoint.

In addition to your email signup form being used throughout the site, you can also use a popup to encourage folks to sign up. So a lightbox or a popup is a great way to quickly and easily grab a user’s information or present them with an exclusive or limited time offer. I’m sure many of you groaned when the slide appeared but bear with me for a second because popups work. If you use them correctly, then, you know, it engages the user right when they land on the website. So consider only having the popup appear maybe the first time a user comes to the website or maybe after a period of time, so every 30 days or something like that. That way, every time they come to your website, if they’re regular visitors and they’re already on your list, they’re not having to X out of that box.

Also, consider maybe only having the page appear on the homepage or on certain pages that you may be directing people to, again, so that when people are going to other internal pages, they’re not having to click out of the email capture form that they’ve already signed up for. And then also, maybe consider using some other tricks like exit intent which would be a way to prompt the popup when someone is about to leave the page or leave the website. So, again, keeping consistent mobile design is very crucial when it comes to the email popup. So when you look at the mobile example we have here, it doesn’t take up the entire mobile screen, so a user can easily tap out of it if they’re already signed up for your newsletter or they don’t want to see it.

Too often, I land on a site that works well on mobile except for the popup, and I find myself struggling to be able to click out of it in order to read or see the content behind it. So that’s very crucial.

Stuart: One of the things I was gonna say just as Clark was talking there, the exit intent, you always want to use that effectively also. And so you don’t necessarily want to terrify people, and so when somebody goes to exit out of their web browser and you send a message that says, “Hey, I see that you’re leaving…” you may want to make it a little bit more sly [SP] than that so they don’t turn around or look at their webcam and wonder how the heck that you knew that they were about to exit the screen. Maybe you incorporate something that’s like, “Hey, save 10% now.” And so that’s a little bit more sly and under the radar as to not freak your customers out, right?

Clark: That’s a really good point, Stuart. So using these two methods with your email signup are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to growing your following for email marketing. But once you started to build your list, you’ll need to know how to get them coming back and how to convert them. So I’ll turn it over to Jamie to speak more about how to effectively use those call to actions in your email campaigns.

Jamie: Thank you so much. Yeah, that was awesome. And I love that you said, “I know some of you groan,” because that does happen, you know? In defense of the popup is something I feel like we’ve written pieces on it. Every email marketer out there has been like, “No, seriously, I promise. It is very effective.” And I even have a stat. They can actually increase signups by as much as 46%, so when we implemented a popup on our own website. And we’ll actually look at…we’ll talk about those a little bit, in my presentation, a little bit more, but we implemented one and I think our list grew by something like 325%. So we were like, “Oh, wait…” I mean, that was a while back but we were pretty impressed. They do work.

And, you know, obviously, these guys just walked you through how to attract people on multiple, you know, points on your website and to capturing emails. You know, we’re not just talking about this because we do email marketing. We’re actually talking about this, and I get to work at an email marketing company, because emails are a pretty big deal to the tune of 94% of people say it’s the reason that they get on the Internet. The number two activity is actually using a search engine, which is pretty, pretty interesting when you think of how often you Google things. But, you know, it’s not just that it’s popular. It’s actually an effective channel, so probably because it is so popular.

So these numbers here from the Direct Marketing Association, these are just averages. They can swing up or down depending on industry. But the ROI for email is and has been more than double that of every other digital channel for as long as I’ve been working in email marketing, which has been about eight or nine years. And so I think that’s pretty compelling. But that doesn’t mean just by nature of sending emails you’re automatically going to, you know, have a windfall of, you know, success with email marketing. You actually have to be thoughtful, be strategic, and there’s a lot of moving parts.

And one of the biggest factors is that email inboxes are super crowded. People receive around 125 emails a day. I sometimes feel like I receive about 125 emails an hour. I’m terrified to go back to my desk every time we do a webinar because I have to just spend two hours kind of digging through and assessing the damage, seeing what piled up while I was gone.

And, you know, for people, especially when we are trying to sell to other businesses, the average office worker I believe checks their email somewhere around 30 times an hour or something of that nature. I mean, it’s pretty crazy. So there’s a lot going on in the space. There’s a lot just volume-wise happening. We’re overloaded. However, again, if you can kind of breakthrough that noise, you can have some really, really effective conversions in the space. So email conversion rates are three times that of social media and it’s not just that they’re happening with a little bit more frequency than a social post but they’re actually 17% higher value conversions on average as well.

So because we’re spending so much time here, because there’s so much activity, because we are having to sift through a lot when we actually are compelled to take an action, it tends to be pretty meaningful. And so that’s something that businesses should absolutely pay attention to. So when we really talk about call to action, it actually all starts here. And this is a mobile inbox, and when we think about calls to action, you know, obviously, there’s buttons. You know, we’re gonna actually get into the design of emails here in a minute. But your first call to action in email marketing is your subject line and your “From” name. The two biggest factors that influence open rates are, you know, who the email comes from and the subject line. And I’m just realizing there’s a typo. Apologies there. I meant to swap that out.

The organization that the email is from, it’s 64%. But if you look here over on the left, more importantly, what you see is you see marketing messages and then you see that that one email that’s open is from Cynthia Price, and the subject line says, “Important.” This is what you’re competing with. In the inbox, you were not competing with your competitor. You’re actually competing with people that matter a lot more to me than your brand is in any given moment. You’re competing with my boss, my family, my friends, with the ticket that I need to print off so that I can get into the show. And if I get an email from Cynthia that says “Important” and has a foreword and has the word “business development” in it, none of this other stuff matters. Sorry, Amy Nelson.

So, you know, testing those, iterating on that and realizing the weight of this impression is so important, especially too when you look at a mobile inbox like this, and realize that it isn’t a preview pane. That subject line has so much weight on it. And when it comes to the subject lines, sort of the tips and tricks for optimizing them, obviously, urgency and exclusivity in a subject line. Again, you’re competing with Cynthia who has an important message for me. Those could actually lift open rates by as much as 22% according to Adestra.

The other thing is that, again, you are competing with people who actually know how to speak to me and they actually know how to communicate with me. So even if you’re a business, if you use first person language, if you actually talk to me in a conversational manner, if you actually, you know, put information in the subject line that mimics real conversations that I’m having in my inbox, and are really direct and concise, especially because mobile phones will cut off subject lines depending on the phone you’re on, around 32 characters, you just have to be super careful about what’s happening in the space.

The last thing I’ll point out about subject lines that is something that is super overlooked by a lot of brands is that now on a mobile phone, you actually have the ability to control the preheader text. And the preheader text is all of that lighter grey text underneath the, you know, dark black subject line. You now have two to three more lines where you can, you know, be really clever in your subject line but then be really clear about the value proposition that’s, you know, awaits me when I do open your email. So, do me a favor, if your subject line or your preheader text says, “Having trouble viewing this mailing?” fix that tomorrow.

Start thinking about how you can optimize that. In Emma, it’s really simple to do. It’s an option. You know, you type your subject line, you can type your preheader text directly into the application. You do not need to know how to code. Some systems you do need to know how to code if you’re not an Emma user, but, regardless, it is important and it can really sort of give you a leg up in the inbox there.

And, again, it’s really important because just like, you know, the mobile-optimized websites being popular, over half of all emails now open first on a mobile device. So, you know, we are now walking around with mobile inboxes basically. We’re walking around with mobile browsers. You know, one of my colleagues likes to say you’re not walking around with a phone anymore. You’re walking around with a mobile inbox with a phone app on it. And so what that means from a consumer standpoint is that email actually allows me to be in charge and not you, the business. I am walking around. I am distracted. I am not just tethered to my desk reading your email. I could be standing in a store. I could be in my car, hopefully in the passenger seat.

And so it is all the more important that you get my attention, you know, quickly. So once I do open the email, let’s say you’ve tested your subject line, you’ve tested your “From” name, you’ve played around in that space, you’ve made sure that, you know, your opens are there, well, then you have to get me to actually take an action. And if you can do that, especially on mobile phones, some crazy conversions are happening in the space. And conversions from mobile aren’t just impressive. The influence mobile experiences have on consumers is powerful even before I turn into a prospect or a paying customer. Somewhere around 90% of smartphone users are actively using their phones to research and make decisions about your brand long before they’re interacting with an email or even, you know, those calls to action on your website.

They are reading reviews. They’re reading social. They are gathering information on their phones to decide if they even want to go to your website and learn more. And they’re, again, all doing it on the go. So your brand impression on mobile phones, from the website experience to the inbox and then back again to wherever you’re linking out to is vitally important. And we both sound like broken records, but it is so important that you align with tools that allow you to, you know, create wonderful mobile experiences. And to that end, when you are designing in email, you actually need to design for the mobile inbox first. And that means making sure that not only are you using a mobile-optimized template or, you know, having your designer create a mobile-optimized email, meaning that, just like the examples, you know, Clark and Stuart showed, that the email actually becomes one column, things stack appropriately, it’s a nice user experience on a phone.

The other thing is that, you know, when I first started in email marketing, we were trying to get people to send really short emails. We were trying to get people away from sending long emails, physically long emails like the one you see here. The advent of mobile has actually made it so that from a user experience standpoint, we want to “embrace” this role. You see infinite scrolling on websites. You also are seeing it in inboxes. And there’s added benefits to this. It doesn’t mean every email needs to be super long but it does mean, especially if you’re selling a consumer product like Simply Mac, that you can actually create a mobile sort of microsite within the email.

And this is helpful if someone is viewing this email, downloads the images, and then is actually, you know, wanting to shop within the email. It sort of is allowing you to put a call to action in this that is really direct and isn’t just, you know, linking someone back to a website. It’s actually sort of giving someone a catalog of options. And you can do this regardless of, you know, what you’re selling, whether you’re selling consumer product, whether you’re selling consulting services or value or inviting people to lots of different types of webinars, or let’s say you’re a B2B brand that is, you know, telling me that this webinar recording is ready but then underneath that we have three different blogs that are related that also might interest you.

With mobile devices and with mobile design and calls to action, you are actually able now to profile your customers in ways that you couldn’t before because you can use a lot more real estate as well. So if I’m getting this, you know, you’re checking in on me and then I immediately scroll down all the way to the bottom and I click on that Apple Watch, you can now put me in a segment where you then serve me content about Apple Watches, which we’ll get into a little bit more here in a second.

So just to look at a template, and so, obviously, this is a short email, it could be a long email. We could scroll down and see that it is. But when it comes to call to actions, you know, when we talk about designing for the mobile inbox first, as you see, again, just like the example we just looked at, this is a nice one-column design. And what it’s doing here as well is that the call to action, again, when it comes to email marketing, is so much broader than just the button or a phone number or a link out. It actually is a whole experience from the subject line that you, you know…or, really, from the popup form that you filled out to the part with your email address to the welcome note that you get when you sign up to subsequent emails that you get like this, asking me to take an action, the point of this email is simply just to let us know the Dogfish Head, our customer, has a new video out where their CEO or their founder is talking to Mario Batali and they’re talking about beer.

Super fun. You don’t have to hard-sell me on listening to this. But, you know, if you look here, there’s sort of a formula to success. If you’re not sure where to get started when I say designing for the mobile inbox, this is a pretty good place to start. What they do, first and foremost, write up at the very top, very clear logo, very clear branding. It’s consistent with their website experience if you were to go there. They are teasing multimedia content. So they sent me an email and had a great subject line. I opened it. The first thing I see is an image. Eighty percent of your audience is merely scanning. So once they do open the email, they are not reading your email word for word.

So anchoring the sort of above the fold real estate with an image is key. In this case, it’s a video, and we’ll get there in a second. But also down below that, sparse text, no one, again, is reading your emails word for word. But think of your messaging and headlines even before the call to action. They are straight up, again, talking to us like human beings. They’re saying, “You’re gonna love our new show, period.” It’s clear. It’s direct. That copy also isn’t too dense and it allows my eye to land on this button that is yellow and contrasting. Fun fact, some color theorists actually think that yellow buttons produce a sense of anxiety that makes your finger kind of itchy and want to interact with it. So that also just happens to be one of our brand colors. We lucked out. But this is an attention-grabbing CTA.

Another thing about buttons in the mobile experience specifically is that Apple actually did a study and they found out that the surface area of the average human fingertip is around, I think, it’s 46 by 46 pixels squared. So if you are actually tapping a link, you know, versus a button, your finger is just sized in such a way that a button is much more palatable. So, again, just like with pop-ups, buttons, we’re not just telling you to use buttons because they’re trendy. We’re telling you to use buttons because they actually work. So really interesting stuff there. And here is a glimpse into how this mailing performed, and lo and behold, you can see, if you look all the way over here on the left, they’ve got almost a 50-50 split between desktop and mobile opens.

Desktop is winning by a tiny margin on this particular mailing. And then you can see that with the click map, the button went out. However, they did still have a secondary link to the same video. Everything in this email linked to one place, that’s another thing about email. Give me a focused call to action. Give me multiple ways to engage and go back to your website if that’s the, you know, “Or go to this video,” or go wherever you want me to go. There are three different ways that I can get there, three different paths, and they all lead to this awesome content. But the button is the clear winner here.

And just some thoughts on copy. You know, when we say “make it a clickable copy,” there’s lots of stuff here. This is actually a snippet from our…we have a whole call to action guide, sort of the psychology behind it, but there’s…actually, I’ll sort of rattle these off. You know, be specific. Also using sort of active verbs, so “download,” “get,” “start,” all of those kind of things. Those trigger something in our brains that actually make us want to sort of be a part of the story. Keep it short. You know, putting a novel on a button is a really bad idea.

Try using first person. There’s actually a study here that there’s a 90% better conversion rate when you use first person. So when you say, you know, sort of like, “Hey, you start your trial.” Again, I can kind of put myself in that story and more likely to engage. And then creating urgency both throughout the entire process, you know. Just by simply adding the word “now,” you can boost conversions with buttons. So it’s pretty compelling information. So like the example we just saw, you know, one thing that has been really, really awesome in the sort of conversions and calls to action game here in the email world is video. It turns out, when we talk about mobile audiences, video is watched on mobile devices at alarming rates. It’s like 50 million people in the U.S. now watch video on their mobile phones. People are watching them on their tablets. People are engaging with video.

So, naturally, if people are hanging out online on your website and then also in their mobile inboxes, marrying something, you know, the content with video that’s already popular in that space is a no-brainer. And as a result, the click-through rates are two to three times higher when marketers include video in an email. It’s compelling. People are interested. They want to see it. You don’t have to do it every time. I also realized, you know, not everyone has a video production company within their own business but if you do have video content, or you find video content that you think is compelling, definitely use it. It’s a big deal.

But, you know, it’s not just the image, like you saw on the Dogfish Head. That’s a still image with a play button on it that links out to a playable video, whether that’s on their website or on YouTube. In email, specifically though, if you can convey that same message, where to click to go view the video, and you use an animated GIF to get there, you can actually, you know, see higher transaction-to-click rates compared to, you know, regular emails that don’t have a GIF. And there’s some reasons for that when I say an animated GIF, which we’ll look at. You know, aside from just sort of catching our eye like you see here, there’s the GIF, they actually work on the majority of devices.

This email, as you can see, we followed, you know, this is actually an email from us about our own B2B marketing conference that we sent out. And so you can see we actually practice what we preach. We’ve got a video up at the top, and that is not video. That video is not going to just automatically start playing in the body of this email. You are actually gonna link out. Our goal is to get you to our website where you can learn more about the conference and actually buy a ticket.

The button in this email has the same, you know, goal. The goal is aligned. You know, “Yep, count me in,” takes you to a similar place on this website where, again, we want you to join us. We want you to come to the conference or we want you to look at highlights from the conference. Calls to action are different. There are different types, but they have the same goal in mind. And then we have the animated GIF there which actually draws your [inaudible 00:41:07], so even if you kind of skimmed over the button the first time, it’s, you know, right in the same neighborhood with that GIF and we were able to save space and kind of just create more visual interest with sort of the hierarchy here.

And, again, like I was saying a second ago, animated GIFs actually perform better, you know. You wouldn’t want to embed a video because that’s not very likely to play in everyone’s browser, everyone’s email client, but an animated GIF will.

The other thing too though is if you are gonna use an animated GIF with a call to action on it that actually has, let’s say, a discount or when that GIF cycles through the last frame and says, “Get 30% off,” you’re gonna want to make sure that that, if there is some sort of clear call to action in your GIF, that that is the very first frame of your GIF because in the likelihood that it doesn’t play and it doesn’t actually animate in someone’s you know, email client, they will at least not miss out on the message because an animated GIF will render that first frame as the still image that they see. So just an important note, but GIFS are really, really a great way to get people excited and engaged.

But, really, the best way to get people engaged is to just be relevant. So relevant emails, in general, drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails. And what you’re seeing here, we have two different calls to action. This email has dynamic content that’s based on past purchase histories/the sort of perception of gender identity. However, when you see these side by side that’s the only time that you really notice that that’s happening. The headline here is just, you know, “Be the first to get our gear,” but based on what I’ve purchased in the past I’m either gonna shop Men’s New Releases or shop Women’s New Releases. And this Nike example is excellent because it handles this in a really like subtle and tasteful way that is super effective.

Canyon Ranch is doing the same thing here except they’re taking it a step further, and these were dynamic calls to action in one mailing, so they were able to send one mailing with five different images. They all say “Your spiritual self,” but depending on where the person is and the customer journey or what they’ve actually done, some people meditate, some people, you know, were sketching and doing some sort of bead seminars, so depending on how they had interacted with Canyon Ranch in the past which is like a luxury day spa, they were going to get a different set of words and a different button, so to speak, to engage with and it was super effective for them.

And B2B customers. I know those were two consumer examples, but B2B customers actually see that tailored offers just in the same way are extremely significant activities in terms of maintaining or growing the relationship with the business providers. The B2B customer actually, especially if you are like us, selling marketing solutions or something like that, you know, we know what’s up. We know the game at this point. So making sure that you’re segmenting your audience, that you’re using your data to serve people dynamic calls to action in email, something that is, honestly, super easy to do in Emma and we are happy to help you figure that out and work backwards from your goals to do can be a really significant activity as far as just maintaining and establishing a relationship.

And this final example here before we sort of head into the Q&A portion is actually a B2B example, and I love this one. I think this might be one of my favorite emails I’ve ever received. It is from Return Path. They are thought leaders, essentially, in our space, in the email space. We work with them pretty directly. And what they’re doing here is that they’re actually sending an email out when I’ve disengaged with their product. So they’ve tried to reach me a few times. I’m not opening their emails. I received this email just simply because they could see that I had never probably opened an email from them. And what’s funny is I don’t know that I had. I’d signed up at some point probably because of the industry that I work in and now I open and read all of their emails because this one just blew me away. So this is a true life example.

But you can see here at the top, the subject line, they’re using emoji which, from a company called Return Path that does B2B email sort of list hygiene stuff, is not necessarily expected but it definitely caught my attention. It says, “It’s so hard to say goodbye.” The copy is really, really personal. This is not expected. However, skimming this, I had this great headline here at the top. And, actually, the koala and the monkey were animated GIFs which was funny. And I’ve got two buttons. I’ve got “Yeah! Yeah!” and “No, No, No.”

So if I just skim this, and I get what they’re saying. They’re saying, you know, do I still want to receive emails from them, the hierarchy of this, they put them on equal ground. But “Yeah! Yeah!” is first and I want to click it and the Koala is just slightly cuter than the monkey, in my opinion. And it’s just a great call to action. So they actually have two buttons that do two different things but the goal, again, is still the same and it’s still tied to one sort of anchor. And at the very bottom, they have a Spotify playlist which I love and that actually says, “Did our subject line and buttons catch your eye? Check out our Spotify playlist to see or go to Inspiration.” It’s a fantastic email and, of course, I clicked “Yeah! Yeah!” and stayed on their list.

So, excellent. And when it comes to call to actions and email, again, it’s a top-to-bottom experience. It’s the subject line and, most importantly, it’s paying attention to my behavior, watching the data, and serving me relevant content and calls to action that actually are going to get me to convert. And making sure that it’s really clear I can tap those buttons.

And a few more helpful tips. Testing your frequency of sending is also something and that’s just in general, not necessarily call to action specific, but testing the frequency of when you actually are engaging with your audience. Testing the time of day, something that’s overlooked often, if you are not really getting a lot of engagement on your calls to action in your email, that could be a factor. It could be just simply when you’re sending it. Testing the placement. So maybe you always put that button in the middle of the emails. Maybe it’s actually buried. Maybe people are having trouble finding it. So moving that button up or down, you know, testing one design versus another, that can help you sort of understand and determine if that’s why people are not engaging.

And then, lastly, again, you just saw examples, you can do so much powerful stuff with email marketing if you have data that helps you determine things like purchase history or when I signed up or the date of my birthday or whatever it might be that’s relevant. But if you don’t have that data and you need it, don’t be afraid to just ask for the data you need like Return Path did. Essentially, that’s all they’re doing. They’re just asking me, “Hey, we want you to engage. We want you to click.” And most likely, if I had not clicked that, they would have moved me. They would have opted me out and I would have never heard from them again. So asking for data that you need to be successful is always gonna carry you through.

Now we will head into this Q&A part and I have been babbling for so long. So I’m gonna start and we actually got a question. I see here, right out of the gate, about just website CTA. So I’m gonna let SpaceCraft in, take that one. And I think it’s pretty simple but we’ve got one from Rebecca and she just wants to know, “How do I know if my CTAs are working on my website?” We talked about data. What data is there that could help her determine that, that you guys, you know, think is effective?

Clark: Yeah, great question. And, Jamie, I was gonna jump onto your last slide and actually talk about this also. So I’m glad that question was the first one that you asked.

Jamie: Yeah.

Clark: So, honestly, I think not just email call to actions or emails in general but all call to actions across the web, you want to test, test, test. And so you want to test the location of it. You want to test the color of it, the messaging, the button style. And I guess to answer the question, “Where do you go to find this data?” well, one, if you’re looking specifically for email, somebody like, obviously, Emma, is gonna be able to give you the click metrics, the open rates, and the unsubscribes, and all of that stuff. But before you get to the inbox, analytics is gonna be Google Analytics. There’s lots of analytics providers out there. I think, obviously, the elephant in the room is Google.

And so I would recommend you make sure analytics is peppered all throughout your website. And so you can log in there and really see, “Okay, what’s my conversion rate looking like?” And so if I say I want people to “Click to dial” or “Click to call me,” how many people are actually clicking that button? If I want people to fill out a form, how many people are actually filling out that form and getting to the “Thank you” page? And so all of that stuff is achieved through analytics to be able to track that and report on those numbers.

And so that’s the first place I would look. If you have a web provider or if you have a marketing person, go to them first, ask them the question of how can we get more granular with the data that we’re getting back from our call to actions? And if, heaven forbid, you don’t have call to actions on your website, maybe start there, and then jump into the analytics side of things. But, yeah, Google Analytics is where I’d recommend you look first.

Jamie: That is very good advice and I would say, we here at Emma definitely live and die by what’s going on in there among lots of other places. So very good advice. Another question, this one comes from Janice. “So when someone joins my list, what’s the best way to engage using CTAs?” And I can kind of take that one. I would say, as far as the CTAs go, it’s not necessarily, you know, what the button says or this, that and the other. It’s really just that you are showing up immediately in their inbox. So like I was mentioning earlier, inboxes are super crowded. There’s lots of people hanging out in those spaces.

And so if I’m on your website, if I, you know, get served your popup and I gave you my email address which I’ve already established is personal to me and crowded and I’m letting you in, I want what you’re serving up, if you don’t immediately send me what we would call like a welcome email, then you’re really missing the boat. So I think earlier when I mentioned preheader text, if you’re not doing that, the other table’s stake in the game is making sure that you have at least the capability to automate emails that will deploy automatically immediately when I gave you my email address.

So bridging that gap between calls to action on your site and that inbox experience are super important. And we actually have a stat, and I believe, I can’t remember who it is, who says it at the moment but it’s something to the effect of, “A welcome email can increase long-term brand engagement by as much as 33%.” So I actually more likely to read subsequent emails that you send me if you are immediately engaging with me. And, you know, I always like to pepper in B2B stuff because I think anytime I do one of these, people are like, “What about us? You know, we’re not a sexy consumer brand.” And I think that welcome note, that transcends verticals, that transcends everything. And, actually, we encourage people to do a series of emails.

We’ve seen even more success with our customers implementing, you know, sort of a parsed out timed series because it allows you to not ask for too much upfront to, let’s say, again, if you’re a B2B company, immediately, let’s say, that popup isn’t just saying, “Hey, give me your email address.” Maybe it’s saying, “Hey, do you want to actually download this whitepaper? Give us your email address.” “Yes, sure.” You know, implying that we can send you other things too. We’re gonna send you this valuable white paper that actually means something and then we’re actually going to send you, you know, a cadence of emails, you know, maybe three to four emails that actually continue to deliver value, help us profile you so that we can serve you more relevant content.

And then maybe by the end of that, I’m asking for a transaction to occur. I’m asking you to take a tour, talk to someone. But I think emails are a great way, again, to establish a real dialogue and relationship and deliver people stuff they actually want to know, which is nice. So very good question, Janice. So moving on, let’s see. Carl is asking, “How effective are emojis in marketing? How do you guys feel about emojis on websites?” Your mobile website… Does it factor?

Clark: Yeah. It’s not a huge factor on websites, really that much at all. I think that would be more an email question [crosstalk 00:54:37] on us.

Jamie: Yeah.

Stuart: Or a social media question for that matter. So I mean, I think, you know, people are starting to incorporate emojis into their website and so I think people have gotten so accustomed to when you’re using an iPhone, you know, I’ll have conversations with my wife that are strictly emojis. And so, anyways, I think people are starting to, you know…it’s kind of fun inviting. And so people are incorporating them. And so if you have a brand that it fits for, then absolutely. Incorporate them in, pepper them in. You will find that some browsers may render them differently and so that could be the only issue that I would foresee.

And you mentioned, Jamie, that email that you liked with the koala and the monkey that they have the emojis in the subject line, and then kinda caught your eye because they were kind of singsong-y with that. And so the emojis helped to get that message across.

Jamie: Right.

Stuart: And so it’s a way to add a little bit more of a tone or a tone of voice to your message than you can with just texts.

Jamie: Absolutely. And, you know, to the point of, you know, Return Path again, it’s a B2B brand and they do a pretty serious service. Like they’re not, you know, pottery barn kids or something, you know. And most of their emails that I receive from them do not have pithy emoji in the subject line. So that mailing was special because that was them sort of basically saying, “Hey, we want to get your attention. We want to actually see if you’re paying attention because if you are, we want you on our list. And if not, we can go back to this, or we can cut you out of this equation altogether and not, you know, crowd your inbox anymore.”

So I think there’s, you know, playing around with that and testing it. That is a great thing to test. And you should all be testing your subject lines. I didn’t really stress that enough earlier but, you know, in Emma you can actually do an A/B/C test. You can have three different subject lines have, you know, 10%, 10%, and 10% getting the different…you know, all three or each individual one, and whichever subject line is the “winner” and gets the best response out of those test segments, the remainder of your audience on that list will get the winner. So, you know, you can definitely test subject lines. It’s easy. It’s built into most ESPs and it’s pretty important.

I think we have time probably for one more question. So let me look here. Frederick is asking, “Is it okay to change the CTA messaging on my website?” What are your thoughts there, guys?

Clark: Yeah, absolutely. As a matter of fact, I would encourage you. It depends on, you know, what you’re doing. So if you’re selling an item, then you can change the messaging for particular promotions. If you’re running a storewide sale for the holidays or, you know, Labor Day, Memorial Day, something like that, change it. And so you want to mix those things up in order to encourage people to continue engaging with you and come back to your website to see what other promotions you are running.

A great example of that, just we didn’t have it in our slides, but Golfsmith is a big golf store both online and they also have brick and mortar stores around. But their call to actions are great. They’re always running sales and they change it up every couple of weeks or so for different promotions. So it always keeps me going back to see what else they’re offering.

Stuart: And, again, I would follow up with that and say you still want to look at the analytics. So don’t look at the analytics and see, “Oh, for the past three days this call to action hasn’t been working,” and just go in there and change it every three days because it doesn’t give you enough data to really analyze and see which call to action is working. And so what I would encourage you is to leave it out there. Maybe leave it out there for a month or so, maybe three months, see the response that you get to it and then start to change it up just so you’re not taking a very small sample size and assuming that your CTA is not necessarily working.

Jamie: Yup.

Stuart: And, again, when we talked about buttons being so diverse, you really do have the ability to go in there and change up the messaging without having to totally rework the design of your overall website, so definitely.

Jamie: Yeah. And I would say, you know, I would echo exactly what you guys just said but for email. So those calls to action, we have buttons that we consistently…we found language that works and we actually carry a lot of the language from our buttons that are on our website or certain pages at our website, and to the email as well. So if we do find something that is working and it’s a cohesive sort of experience, like we’ll leave it alone. There’s no, you know, rule that says, “Your email buttons have to be completely different than your homepage buttons,” you know. In fact, sometimes keeping that message consistent, both color, shape, language, can be helpful because it can help people sort of see a connection or a correlation between, you know, the website experience, the inbox experience, and kind of back again. So all really good stuff.

So we are out of time. Clark, Stuart, thank you so much. Really great information. And again guys, we will be sending a recording. We’ll send the slide your way first, actually. But, yeah, have a great weekend. We’re so excited to have you here. And, yeah, thanks so much.

Clark: Awesome. Thank you all.

Stuart: Thanks, Jamie.

Ready to do your best email marketing?

Request a tour

We use cookies to serve personalized content and targeted advertisements to you, which gives you a better browsing experience and lets us analyze site traffic. Review our cookie information to learn more. You can manage your cookie preferences at any time.