Our Blog

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”


  • Categories

Search Blog


Why the “call-to-action” matters

Creating an effective email marketing campaign can be complicated.

It seems to get a bit more so every day.


The process of converting raw leads into revenue is frequently referred to as the email marketing “sales funnel”.

The thing about funnels is they get slimmer the further down you go.

That’s how funnels work.

But with real funnels, everything eventually comes out the other end. It just does so in a more controlled and slower fashion.

The funnel metaphor only holds up for email marketing if the funnel has thousands of tiny holes poked in it, which leads drip out of on their way down, messing up our floors and getting our hands sticky.

However many “raw leads” we may pour into the top, only a tiny fraction will ever actually make it to the bottom and generate revenue. Which sucks, because if every email we sent earned us money, this business would be a breeze and we’d all be rolling around in piles of cash, instead of reading blog posts.

Image credit: Sony Pictures Television


Looks nice, doesn’t it?

Sadly, we email marketers must instead scoop those leads up off the floor, top them up with some fresh ones and pour the whole mess back into our funnel full of holes to see what happens the next time around.

And, if we’ve learned anything in the interim, we might be able to plug up a couple of those holes. If we can, our campaigns will generate more revenue, and then everyone will know that we are good email marketers, just like we said we were.


The question is: how do we plug those holes?

*** Note, we will now move on from our “funnel full of holes” metaphor, which we flogged to death several paragraphs ago. ***

There are many ways to optimise our email marketing approach to increase our ratio of conversions. To name a few:

  1. Better subject lines, to help us get more opens and eyeballs on the body of our message
  2. Personalisation and automation, to improve customer experience with our brand’s barrage of emails
  3. Improved, relevant copy within the body of the email itself, to teach our audience that our emails are worth reading

But there is one more key element that is present in every marketing email (or at least it should be).

An element that can streamline the entire process and create conversions at every stage of the email marketing dialogue.

The “call-to-action”.

It matters.

And here’s why:

Why the “call-to-action” matters

Image credit: 20th Century Fox


Given the choice, most people much prefer to opt in to something, rather than having something foisted upon them.

If your marketing email has done its job then it is reasonable to assume that it has already garnered some level of interest with the reader, and that opting in is on the table.

As marketing copywriting godfather Robert Collier put it in 1937:

“There are only two reasons why your reader will do as you tell him in your letter. The first is that you made him want something so badly that of his own inertia he reaches out for your order card to get it. The other is that you have aroused in him the fear that he will lose something worthwhile if he does not do as you say.”

Hopefully, at least one, if not both, of Collier’s criteria have been met.

It is time to convert.

That is why the call-to-action button is there. It invites the reader to take the next step, “add to cart”, “find out more”, “subscribe”, or “buy now”.

And there is a science to this as well.

The words you choose for your call-to-action buttons matter.

Image credit: 20th Century Fox


As do the colours you choose

Even where in the email the buttons are placed, the size of the buttons, and the shape of the buttons can have a major impact. There are many things to consider.

And many things to test.

We must always remember that this is a numbers game.

As in all things email marketing, psychology plays a major part in this step of every conversion.

Audience demographics, segmenting and split testing are all key elements, as they should have been all along.

If you have never done any split testing to determine which size, shape, placement, colour, and wording on calls-to-action work the most effectively with your audience, you should.

Test, optimise, and test again. Because what is true today, what works for your audience this month, may or may not work next month, or the one after. If there is one universal truth in this industry, that is it.

Here at Phrasee, we prefer to let machines keep an eye on this because they can do it faster and more effectively than people can.

And, really, the more holes in the funnel that they can keep plugged, whether plugged by a marketer with a keen eye or by a machine, the better. It means more conversions, and in the end, more revenue for our clients.

And we think that’s awesome.

Sign up to Phrasee’s weekly newsletter. It’s awesome. We promise.

Telecoms marketing in 2020 and beyond

Telecoms marketing in 2020 and beyond

Telecoms marketers aren’t afraid to use new technology to improve their marketing. Read how they're dealing with challenges they face in 2020.

Discover how applying actual AI to language can deliver big results!