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8 Ways to Strengthen Your Email Marketing Offers and Calls to Action

8 Ways to Strengthen Your Email Marketing Offers and Calls to Action

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 18, 2012 Updated: September 15, 2016

Are you worried you’re not getting tangible results from your email campaigns? Wish your emails stood out more in a crowded Inbox? Email marketing is a core asset in any lead generation activity or campaign, even a good old email newsletter usually has one or more calls to action. But if you’re finding that your click-through rates are falling short, what can you do?

Here are eight tips to help you get strengthen your emails and get customer to act.

Start with a robust and engaged list

Before you do anything, stop and take a look at your email marketing list. Do your contacts want to hear from you? What’s your opt-out rate? How long has it been since you’ve refreshed your list? Check open rates (20 percent is average). If it’s low, you may have a problem. If you find that your click-throughs and conversions aren’t where they should be, freshen your list by segmenting it out. You could send an email only to those who haven’t opened your emails for a while.  Make it catchy, and try to win them back! Consider purging the unresponsive names – send them an email and ask them if they still want to hear from you and give them a clear option to opt out. Whatever you do, be creative, do the opposite of what you normally do and test the results.

Give your subject line the attention it deserves

Long gone are the days of formal subject lines laden with marketing speak. In today’s social media world, consumers are tuned in more to messages that speak directly to them. Cut the jargon and use subject lines that are clear, concise and answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” Use conversational language and address your reader as “you” or “your.” One of my personal favorites comes from the UK online clothing retailer Boden, which also operates in the U.S. Their subject lines reflect the quirky and customer-oriented nature of their brand and stand out in a crowded Inbox of discount offers. Here are three examples:

 “Don’t dilly dally. 20% off plus free shipping ends soon”

 “20% off loads of lovely styles – 1 week only”

“Your VIP SALE invitation: nab the best bits first”

Test your subject lines. Keep an eye on open rates and click-throughs and adjust your messaging strategy accordingly.

Use action-oriented words

Looking at the subject line examples above, do you notice how the limited time offer is clearly stated in the subject line? This compels readers to act now before it’s too late. If you have a special offer, make sure you clearly mention this several times – use action-oriented words in the subject line, in the body of your email and in any graphic elements. “Urgency” words like “now” and “this week only” can be far more effective than “free,” which is a red flag to SPAM filters.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Put your social media cap on and have a dialogue with your readers that motivates follow-through. Use questions in the subject line, as Boden does with its post-purchase review request: “How did we do? Review your Boden purchase today.

Be confident, but stay on brand

Be confident in the tone of your call to action language, while staying consistently on-brand. Don’t be afraid of telling your readers what’s in it for them. Boden’s “20% of loads of lovely styles – 1 week only” does this perfectly.

Use graphics to enhance calls to action

The call to action button is a great way to draw attention to your offer or call to action. Most email marketing software lets you add this option. Play around with it and pick a design that’s eye-catching without being overwhelming. Position the call to action high up, centered on the page. Use your brand colors and clear, bold text. Avoid wordiness and leave lots of white space so your call to action pops. Then test your emails. Come up with several designs and ask your staff which grabbed their attention the most.

Get your content right

Content is an area that creates most concern for small business owners. How do I try to make a sale without sounding “salesy?” How can I make my call to action compelling? There are many ways to do this, and your copy and graphics go hand-in-hand:

  • Target your content or offer to specific audiences. At the simplest level, segment your lists by existing customers versus prospects and tailor your message accordingly. Geotarget if you can (especially if you are promoting an event or in-store offer). Adapt your message to specific locations.
  • Make your offer beneficial, relevant and timely. For example, are there any newsworthy (e.g. the Presidential election, Super Bowl, etc.) or seasonal activities going on that you can spin your offer around?
  • Feature images of your product.


Have you ever received an email that was so cluttered you couldn’t decipher what was being offered or how to take advantage of it? A truly great promotional email is one that’s light on copy (shoot for 50 words or less) with a clear message and simple call to action. Your email is a teaser piece; you want to hint at what’s offered while enticing your readers to click through for more details. This can be achieved in under 50 words with good graphics and a stand-out call to action. Don’t omit too much though. For example, if you are hosting an event, you’ll need to include dates and prices in your email.

Pick the right email software

Lastly, revisit your email software. Does your current email software let you easily build custom templates? Can you add or delete content blogs and edit graphics without having to know web coding? What about social media integration, email personalization and other features? All these can help take the pain out of creating compelling content while automating your email campaign.

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About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley