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Choosing a Type of Call to Action for Your E-Mail Marketing Campaign

Encouraging customers and prospects on your e-mail marketing list to take action dictates that you have a meaningful call to action. Design your message around what you want your audience to do with your e-mail:

  • Read it: In a lengthy article or when your main call to action appears after a long body of text, include a call to action prompting your audience to read the essential parts by using action words in a standalone headline, a table of contents, or a link to additional content.

  • Save it: If you want your audience to keep your e-mail:

    • Ask them to save it to one of their Inbox subfolders.

    • Archive your e-mail on a page within your website and ask your readers to bookmark the page.

    • Provide a link to a Portable Document Format (PDF) version of your e-mail that your audience can save.

    Most people don’t save e-mails, and some people may not know how to save them, so include specific directions.

  • Print or show it: Sometimes you want your audience to produce a paper or digital copy of the e-mail, as when you provide coupons or sharable information.

    Use simple designs or provide a link for print-worthy e-mails to prevent printing problems for your customers.

  • Share it: Prompting your audience to share your e-mail with friends and colleagues is a great way to expand your own reach. Ask them to

    • Click the Forward button on their e-mail program to send an exact copy of your e-mail to the e-mail addresses they choose.

      Your E-Mail Marketing Provider (EMP) can’t track e-mail shared this way and that the links in the e-mail — including the unsubscribe link — are attributed to the person who forwards the message.

    • Click a forward link that your EMP provides to send a completely new copy of your e-mail — one your EMP can track.

    • Click a share link that your EMP provides that links to a webpage of your e-mail. The share link posts a link to your archived e-mail to the social media page your recipients choose when clicking the share link.

Your call to action can reach beyond dealing with your e-mail; you may want your audience to

  • Fill out a form to give you information about their preferences or encourage them to contact you with the information necessary for you to provide good service.

  • Visit your website when your main offer and call to action is there.

  • Visit a physical location to fully appreciate your product or service. If you want customers to visit:

    • Include driving and parking directions.

    • Ask them to bring a copy of the e-mail on paper or a mobile device so that you can track your response rate.

    • Ask them to share your e-mail with friends or colleagues if they can’t come themselves.

  • Request additional information when your sales cycle involves multiple steps and lots of pre-purchase consideration. Tips for prompting a request include:

    • Link your audience to a specific page on your website instead of to your home page, expecting them to click around.

    • Ask customers to e-mail their request if you don’t have a website or you can't post all your up-to-date information.

    • Solicit a physical address and phone number if you send information by mail. Call to make sure they received the information.

  • Register for an event. When asking for registration:

    • Give clear details about what is likely a multi-step process.

    • Follow up with those who register to confirm attendance.

  • Make an appointment to make a sales presentation or provide in-person service. A quick phone call to set up a meeting is more efficient than going back and forth electronically.

  • Phone you. Be sure to

    • Tell customers what to say to benefit from a special offer or who to ask for.

    • Use bold text to highlight your phone number.

    • Ask callers to leave a message if they can't get through.

    • Give directions for side-stepping a calling phone tree if your business uses one.

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