Every email you send has a specific purpose. Is that purpose obvious to your recipients? Whether your email’s purpose is to drive an eBook download or a specific product purchase, the question remains:

How do you get recipients take your desired action?

While there are many factors—like the subject line, copy and design–which help to drive engagement, the call-to-action (or CTA) is the most important factor for prompting action.

CTAs provide clear direction as to what the subscriber needs to do next—and is ultimately a key driver in the success of your email campaign.

Maximize Your CTA

Three components play key roles in your CTA’s effectiveness: copy, design, and placement.


With the advent of tablets, smartphones, and touchscreens, the concept of “click here” as CTA copy is somewhat antiquated. It also doesn’t provide value or direction in terms of usability. So, how should you approach the copy portion of your CTAs. Here are some ideas:

  • Make sure the CTA states exactly what the recipient will get by clicking.
  • Use strong action verbs in your CTA.
  • Be specific and focus on benefits.
  • Create a sense of urgency.
  • Use numbers (when applicable) to denote discounts. (e.g. “Save 20% Now”).
  • Be concise—5 words of less is ideal.
  • Add first-person elements.

Suppose you have an eBook to offer to your email recipient. Good CTA copy might be:

Good CTA copy


A well-designed CTA, irrespective of where it is placed in the email, succeeds in standing out. Let’s see what design options you might consider:

1. Button Type

Bulletproof buttons:

“Bulletproof” buttons are built with code instead of images. Using code means these buttons display in all email clients—even with images off.

Animated buttons:

Adding movement to your CTA (with animation via CSS) can draw the eye.

2. Shape

Rectangular buttons are common and effective. You can test using rounded corners on your rectangles to add some shape and depth.

3. Size

When it comes to CTA size, it can be as large as you want, provided it’s nicely balance with other elements in your email template. You should also consider a mobile-first design not just for your CTA but your template as whole—as more than 50% of opens and clicks are coming via mobile devices these days.

For mobile, Apple uses and recommends CTAs that are 44x44px. You should test your sizes to help find your ideal. (Longer may work better or worse for you.)

4. Color

CTA color can have a major impact on clicks and conversions. Vibrant colors that contrast with your template’s background can make your CTA more noticeable.
Ultimately, you’re likely to choose a color from your brand style guide. If you’re unsure, and it’s a good fit for your brand, try Blue. The chart below shows how effective blue can be in terms of driving clicks.

Color of CTA- Really GoodEmails

Source: Really Good Emails

5. Font

Legibility, strength, and color play a major role in how a font can drive CTA effectiveness. Essentially, is your CTA text readable?
For fonts, you also need to be sure that if you’re using code/text for the CTA copy that the font you choose is compatible across email clients—or a suitable, “web/email-safe” backup option is selected as well.

6. White space

White space around your CTA plays an important role in grabbing the recipient’s attention, as it creates a visual break. White space especially works well for those who open your emails on mobile devices as this provides enough clear area for the recipient to click on it with their fingertip.


Don’t make your CTA hard to find. In terms of placement, that means putting the CTA “high enough” (some may say “above the fold”) in the email that recipients don’t miss it.

Good CTA placement helps your email to be scannable and maintain focus on your main purpose. Whether that means right at the top or in the middle of your template depends on how you test placements and how your subscribers ultimately engage.

You may find that for simple CTAs (like a product offer), placing the button high up makes perfect sense. You may find that for a more complicated offer, you’ll need some space for explanation before putting in the CTA. That’s a decision for which you’ll have to test and find out what works best for you.

Final Thoughts

All these tips above are important to consider, but there’s one critical factor I left out: Proper linking. If your CTA doesn’t link to a good, correct, relevant, working landing page, it doesn’t matter how good your CTA is. Make sure *where* you’re taking your clickers matches up.

What other best practices are you using with your CTAs? Share them in the comments below.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not replace actual legal advice from an actual lawyer. This is a very high-level overview of some things you should look at when considering email marketing under the new GDPR regulation beginning in May. I’m not a lawyer—I don’t even play one on TV. Take these ideas and go talk to a real lawyer if you need to.

This May 25th is GDPR Day! For email marketers, this day is when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. That’s a lot of words (and an acronym) for what? Let’s take a look.

GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation

As Jeanne Jennings says, GDPR is really about data.

This regulation is designed to protect the personal data of European Union citizens and extend this scope of protection and scrutiny to all foreign companies that are processing data of the EU residents. This regulation is legally binding for any company that collects/deals with EU personal data, whether the company resides in the EU or not.

So how does GDPR define “personal data”:

“Any information that could be used, on its own or in conjunction with other data, to identify an individual is considered as personal data.”

Essentially, as an email marketer, you really need to consider every piece of data you collect as “personal data.” And if you have the data, you need to have the “receipts” as well—meaning some record of an express opt-in, proof your subscribers know what data you collect, why you’re collecting it, how you’re using data, etc.

GDPR compliance is not just restricted to data collected after the regulation goes into effect, either. It’s retroactive to all personal data of subscribers in the EU that reside on your current mailing list, too. (There is a period that can be construed as “implied consent” for some companies for a period of time, but that clock is running.)

And to show you how serious this regulation is, noncompliance can mean a fine of up to 20 million Euros or 4% of your total revenue (whichever is higher).

Sounds Scary? Take a Breath…

Though GDPR sounds scary, it is actually designed to protect both data owners as well as companies who handle the data. And, if you’re handling your list the right way now, you’re not too far from compliance as it is.

Since you are required to specify what you can and can’t do with your subscriber’s personal data, this (forced) transparency builds brand trust. Subscribers may be more inclined to offer their personal data once they are confident about it not being misused.

Additionally, GDPR helps businesses and email marketers document cleaner and more relevant data–increasing overall mailing list quality and lowering unsubscribe rates (we hope).

Steps to prepare for GDPR compliance

Here are two things you need to do as soon as possible:

1. Bring your current mailing list up to speed

Now is the time to evaluate your mailing list and prune unwanted email addresses.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I have proof of how I procured the email addresses?
  • Does my opt-in form ask for the express consent of my subscribers?
  • Do I use the data exactly for the purpose for which my subscriber gave consent?

If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, you need to make changes, stat. Some other changes you can make include:

  • Change to double opt-in and only send to subscribers who have completed the confirmation process. (Again, receipts…)
  • Rework your privacy policy to ensure that your subscribers are informed about usage of their data.
  • Set up a process for subscribers to easily have full access to their personal data. They must be allowed to refuse usage of their personal data, even in profiling or automated/triggered programs.

Note: Moosend has a nice checklist for you to follow.

2. Implement clean communications with new subscribers.

For new subscribers joining your mailing list, once you have streamlined your onboarding process for your existing subscribers, new subscriber onboarding should be a breeze. Avoid practices such as pre-ticked opt-in boxes and confusing messages (such as using double negatives to convey positive act) on your opt-in forms. Any “disruptive” mechanisms are a strict no-no under GDPR.

Best Practices to follow:

  • Identify your loyal customers (and prospects) first and get them to opt in again. As May 25th nears, your subscribers are surely going to experience an influx of permission-based emails. Stand apart from the clutter by re-opting in your most engaged subscribers first.
    NOTE: This is essential if you can’t produce proof of prior opt-in.
  • Refresh your data collection methods. This will help you gather records on how you gained consent.
  • When re-opting in your existing mailing list, non-responders should be considered opted out (unless you can produce hard proof of prior opt-in).
  • Resell the positives. Show your subscribers the benefits/value of being subscribed.

Wrapping Up:

Understanding GDPR is not rocket science, especially if you have already been working on the basis of true permission-based marketing. It can be an opportunity—one that you can take full advantage of by getting your business compliant.

Other resources:

What is the GDPR? And What Does it Mean for the Marketing Industry? (via Hubspot)

How Does the GDPR Affect Your Email Marketing? (via SendinBlue)


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