Copywriting 101: Little less conversation, a little more action

Many marketers feel overwhelmed trying to write great copy for email. And, in fact, there are a lot of elements that go into a responsive email message. But if you have to focus your efforts in just one place, there’s no question: it has to be the call to action.

In fact, this is by far the biggest missed opportunity we see when evaluating email creative. If the call to action isn’t clear, compelling and prominent, you probably aren’t going to be happy with the results of your campaign. Email readers don’t have time to figure out what you want them to do. You need to tell them using strong action verbs.

The first step, of course, is knowing what you want them to do. Ah, we’ve got you there, huh? Decide what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want to generate leads? Then the call to action is something like “sign up,” “register,” or “download.” Are you looking to generate traffic to your site? In that case you want “learn more,” “read more,” “find out” and “check out.” If sales are the aim, then you can’t do better than “buy now.” Notice, by the way, the absence of the word “click.” Yes, it does still work and no, it doesn’t always trip a spam filter. It is certainly worth testing. But 90% of the time you can find a better, more specific verb that will really drive your recipients to, well, click!

Then, you need to make that call to action prominent. It should come right after your headline and both should appear above the fold in a preview window. That copy that supports the benefits of the offer should come after that, and then the call to action should re-appear in key places throughout the message. Use both links and buttons or graphics for your call to action.

By the way, it’s important to make sure that you measure the success of the campaign based on the call to action. If you want to drive newsletter sign-ups, for example, but you don’t use something like “Sign Up for Our Newsletter” as your call to action, then the campaign is probably going to fail. While you certainly should look at and analyze ancillary metrics, you are doing your efforts a huge disservice if you don’t synch up your call to action and your key success metric. Commit to a result, then build your campaign around that result.

Need more email copywriting tips? Email me and I’ll send your our Email Acquisition Copywriting Guidelines with important advice on creating crisp, response-driving copy.

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