Email essentials

How to create powerful email CTAs that actually work

Reading Time: 8 minutes

One of the most common mistakes in email marketing is to assume that your recipients know what to do after reading your email.

The truth is, without a clear and specific call to action, or email CTA, your email campaigns are likely to fall flat.

Rather than leave readers guessing what to do next, the best email CTAs ensure conversions by guiding them towards targeted goals. Such goals could include visiting your online store or signing up for an exclusive offer.

In this article, you’ll learn what a call to action is in an email, how they work, and why they’re effective. You’ll also see some of the best email call-to-action examples and understand what makes them so effective. Lastly, you’ll get a few bonus tips on crafting your own CTAs for your business.

In this post:

What is a call to action (CTA) in an email?

An email CTA is a phrase or statement in an email that persuades the reader to take a specific action, such as buying a product. It’s usually concise and direct, and it appears as a button or a link that stands out from the rest of the email. When readers click on it, they’re taken to a page where they can complete the desired action.

Want a quick rundown on email CTAs and how you can use them to encourage shopping, feedback, and more? Veteran marketer Greg, the Senior Ecommerce Expert at Omnisend, breaks it down in this video:

How does email CTA work?

Unlike transactional emails , marketing emails are only effective if recipients eventually end up completing a purchase. They will do just that if faced with a compelling call to action.

Email CTAs work by telling people what to do next. They are strategically placed where readers would typically ask “What now?” These buttons or links answer that question directly. Most importantly, they encourage your readers to quickly act on what your email content has convinced them to do.

For example, consider that your goal for your email marketing campaign is to drive sales for a specific product. Your email copy should describe the product and the benefits of owning it. You might even include testimonials from previous customers . But what will drive customers to action is your CTA button, which might say “ Order now ,” “ Yes, I want one! ,” or ” Buy at 20% off .”

When clicked, the button leads them to the product page where they can quickly add it to their cart and check out. Without this CTA, readers will be left to decide what to do next, and it probably won’t involve visiting your site to complete a purchase.

However, going overboard with CTAs is generally not a successful strategy: Our analysis of 229 million emails conducted during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday (BCFM) period shows that emails with 2-3 CTAs show the best click rates , while emails with more than 3 CTAs have lower click rates.

Number of CTAs vs Click rates

Email CTA examples

Here’s a selection of email CTA examples from real-life brands to inspire you as you write your call-to-action phrases for your next campaign:

1. “Order today”

This call-to-action example from reMarkable emphasizes a limited-time offer and then leads your eyes to the CTA button in red. But what makes the call to action even more effective is that it reiterates the urgency of buying today .

2. “Only available here”

This is one of the best email CTAs we’ve seen, from To’ak and Robb Report. It successfully sells the exclusivity and scarcity of their special edition chocolate and complete tasting kit.

The implication is that this is a unique, limited-time opportunity that only they have. This CTA arouses curiosity while simultaneously creating urgency.

3. “Reveal my deal”

You can use the power of mystery and curiosity to entice a desired action. Take Baking Steel’s email CTA, for example.

It tantalizes readers with the promise of a mystery flash sale and exclusive promo code. The intrigue builds anticipation and excitement and incentivizes clicking to uncover their deal.

4. “Shop the new Paddock boot”

Simple and direct also does it, as Kerrits’ “Shop the new Paddock boot” email CTA demonstrates.

This CTA clearly directs readers to check out the launch of an innovative new product. Its simplicity also speaks to the email’s focus on advertising advanced footwear tech.

5. “Shop now with 10% off”

Rather than urgency, this email from Molekule emphasizes a discount .The discount is mentioned in the copy and re

The discount is mentioned in the copy and repeated in the call to action. Email CTA examples like this are particularly useful for browse or cart abandonment emails . They are also effective in welcome emails for incentivizing a subscriber’s first purchase.

6. “Save 10%”

Another of the best email call to action examples is this classic from Felina that uses a discount offer for immediate action. It’s a great way to incentivize first-time customers to make a purchase so they can take advantage of introductory savings.

7. “Get the deal”’s “Get the deal” email CTA is an excellent example of how to work with your email copy when creating a CTA.

In this case, presents an alluring offer from its security partner. It builds on the narrative in the email body to compel readers to click through to the deal’s landing page.

8. “Review the sheets”

Concision also helps when asking for reviews. In the product review email example below, Casper asks a subscriber to review a recent purchase. The primary question appears in large blue text and then your eyes are immediately drawn to the blue button with the CTA phrase.

9. “See your recommendations”

ReelGood uses the same style for streaming recommendations. Check out this email where they provide a preview of personalized recommendations and then a large CTA button that readers can click to see more.

10. “Explore all Brooks gear”

Brooks handles their email CTAs differently. Instead of placing their email call to action on a button, they make it the largest and most eye-catching part of their email. Check out this email that doubles as a quiz that will enable the brand to offer personalized product recommendations:

11. “Learn more about our vision”

In some cases, a letter from the brand is more effective than creative emails. This was the case for Product Board when they announced a new round of funding to their subscribers. Here’s the email they sent out:

12. “Get $5”

Wouldn’t you want $5 if all you needed to do was to click a big yellow button? Of course you’d click it! Now imagine how well this email would work with the same copy but without the CTA button. If you ask “Who wants $5?” but don’t give your readers a clear way to get it, they’re not likely to figure it out on their own by poring over your social media accounts or combing through your website. You want to do it like Cards Against Humanity:

More email CTAs for email marketing

Calls to action need to be clear and compelling, especially in ecommerce marketing where the right CTA can be the main driver of revenue.

Here are a few different types of CTAs and examples of phrases that get clicked:

Email CTAs to encourage product purchase

  • Shop now
  • Order now, get 50% off
  • Buy it now
  • Add to cart now
  • Yes! I want one

Email CTAs to encourage shopping

  • Shop our bestsellers
  • Get the style you want
  • Check the new collection
  • View personalized recommendations
  • Shop my style

Email CTAs for customer feedback

  • Take the survey
  • Leave a review
  • Complete a 2-minute survey
  • Let us know how we did
  • Yes, I’ll share my experience

Email CTAs for exclusive offers

  • Shop at 30% off
  • Get free shipping
  • Reveal my mystery coupon
  • Claim my birthday gift

Email CTAs for the holidays

  • Shop holiday deals
  • Save on Christmas gifts
  • Shop Santa’s best-sellers
  • Get your gifts in time
  • Gift now

Email call to action best practices

  • Find the most strategic location. Always place your CTA where your reader will already be convinced and ready to take the next step.
  • Appeal to your audience’s FOMO. Use words that incite a sense of urgency and let your readers feel they’ll miss out on a good deal if they don’t act fast (e.g., Shop 20% off today only).
  • Highlight your brand’s USP. If your values are a huge part of your brand identity and marketing messaging, use them to drive your subscribers to action (e.g., “Order now to help the whales”).
  • Make it relatable. Consider using first-person phrasing to make your CTAs more compelling (e.g., “Claim my free gift”). This makes your CTA clearer and more relatable to the reader. It also gives them the feeling of control.
  • Test and improve. Experiment with different types of CTAs and use email A/B testing methods to identify what works best for your audience. A good email marketing software should help you perform systematic split testing and segment your customers for optimal conversions.
  • Don’t overcomplicate your CTA copy. According to our data, the classic “shop now” is one of the most popular CTAs, with one of the best click rates (2.23%).

Wrap up

How you craft your email call-to-action directly affects how effective your campaign will be. To write a good email CTA, use language that’s relevant to your brand and the action you want your reader to take. Use actionable words and be direct. Don’t leave your reader questioning what to do next. Command them. But do so in a non-standoffish way.

Once you’ve mastered how to write call-to-action phrases that spur your readers to action, your email campaigns will drive much more revenue and pave the way for sustainable growth.

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