What We Learned Testing Our Email Call to Action Buttons

There’s something just tantalizing about an email call to action, right?

email call to action ren and stempy

Well, the right call to action.

Calls-to-action are the email marketing gateways to getting subscribers and customers to engage.

They drive the reader to perform a specific task.

And that’s powerful stuff when it comes to sales intent.

Buttons have been around for a long time…

…and they’ve come a long way.

Remember reading “Click Here” on every button you ever saw?

That was a fad.

email call to action example, and a bad one too

No thanks.

Now you see all different kinds of email call to action practices out there sifting through your inbox.

And you’re trying to figure out which ones will drive clicks.

Well, we do too.

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So we took a long hard look in the mirror about the different email marketing call to action types we were using and uncovered some pretty interesting stats about click-through rates.

We recently performed some experiments on our own emails, and wanted to share the results of the email CTA buttons that drove clicks for us.

Granted, our audience might not be the same as your audience.

But the idea here is to get you thinking about your email call to action, and figure out what buttons your subscribers will want to click.

Now, on to our email CTA test!

The Delivra Email Call to Action Experiment

How does one create the most clickable call to action?

Sure, that’s a bit of a loaded question–but it’s one I’m sure you’ve asked yourself.

There are a ton of factors that go into email click-through rates…

Are your emails even being delivered?

Is your subject line compelling enough to be opened?

Is your email rendering properly in all email clients?

But for this experiment, we set our crosshairs on the button.

This is what we asked ourselves:

  • What is the best color for our email call to action?
  • What is the best size for our email call to action?
  • What is the best wording to use in our email CTA?
  • How many characters should we use?
  • What is the best location for our buttons?
  • What is the best shape for our buttons?

Now here’s what we learned…

Color of Email Call to Action Buttons

We always assumed since pink is our primary logo color that we should use it as the color of our email CTA.

email call to action buttons color example 1 pink

But what if we chose a more neutral color…

…like blue?

email call to action buttons color example 1 blue

So we put these two colors to the test, and here’s what we learned:

The pink email call to action drove a 30 percent higher click-through rate.

Takeaway: Contrasting colors always pop compared to the rest of your email content. You can always try the squint test to see whether your button is prominent enough.

Size of Email Call to Action

Even though a majority of emails are opened on mobile devices, we wanted to see just if button size did matter.

We didn’t want font size or padding to play into our test, so we simply made one button substantially bigger than the other.

Here’s our typical button size:

email call to action buttons size example

It’s 49px tall and 292px wide.

Then we added some beef to our button:

email call to action buttons much larger example

That’s a super-sized email CTA.

We increased the button size to 76px tall and 436px wide.

But what we learned is bigger isn’t always better.

Here’s what we learned…

We received essentially the same click-through rate on each call to action for mobile recipients.

But it was the desktop results that were interesting.

The super-sized CTA dropped our desktop click-through rate by 18 percent.

Takeaway: In this case, bigger wasn’t better. But you should play around with the size of your email call to action and see if a few more pixels here and there help.

Wording Used in Email Buttons

The right verb can go a long way making an email call to action clickable.

The verb “Get” tends to be a very popular verb in many buttons we see out there.

As in, “Get Your Copy” of this brand new white paper.

Or, “Get a Free Assessment” for a kitchen remodel.

We wanted to test two other verbs for an email newsletter we recently sent out:

Learn vs. Show.

learn more email call to action buttons example

Would a subscriber be more inclined to click seeing Learn More, or would a different verb get them to click?

We went back to the well and reused a previous example, Show Me How.

email call to action buttons size example

We found using the verb Show increased clicks by 23 percent.

Takeaway: Play around with creating unique wording for your email call to action. The idea is to entice the reader to click. Grab them with intrigue and add a little FOMO (fear of missing out) on something great if they don’t click.

Character Length of Email Call to Action

When it came time to promote our new App Connections page, highlighting our entire catalog of integrations, we shared the news in an email campaign.

We wanted to test if adding App Connections into the button wording would increase clicks.

What we knew for sure was this would greatly increase the number of characters we used in the CTA.

email call to action buttons character length text

Increasing the number of characters increased the width of our email call to action (which we already found to reduce the number of clicks).

But since we learned using the verb Show increased our click-through rate, we figured why not see what happens.

So we tested it against a tried and trusted Learn More CTA.

learn more email call to action buttons example

We learned the Show Me App Connections CTA drove 19 percent more clicks in our A/B test.

Takeaway: Sure our button ended up wider, but we believe since we were talking about App Connections in the email that adding it to the CTA made a connection with the reader and drove them to click. Don’t be afraid to test some copy that is unique.

Best Location for Email Call to Action

We have a common format for our email newsletters.

A title, an image, some copy, and finally our call to action.

email call to action buttons placement email example

But we wanted to know if moving the button higher up in the email would increase the number of clicks.

So we changed out our positioning to this:

A title, the CTA, the image, and some copy.

email call to action buttons placement email example variable

Our thinking was if subscribers wouldn’t scroll down to read what we wrote after the headline or image then they weren’t going to find our CTA.

And here’s what we discovered:


We received 47 percent few clicks with the CTA placed higher in the email.

Takeaway: The button was one of the first things a subscriber sees, but that doesn’t mean we gave them enough reason at that point of the email to click. Adding context and justification to your email call to action allows the subscriber to form a judgment and act on it. We didn’t give them that opportunity, and it showed in our lower click-through rate.

Best Shape for CTA Buttons

Rounded edges are commonly used as the shape of many buttons.

If you’ve noticed even we use rounded edges.

email call to action buttons rounded edges

But there are other shapes out there.

We have the completely square buttons with 90-degree corners.

We have the pill-shaped button.

We have the oval.

You could get a designer to come up with any shape to use as a button.

(Although, we probably wouldn’t click a button in the shape of a stop sign.)

So we chose to test our lovely rounded edges against the pill-shaped button.

email call to action buttons pill shaped design

And here were the results:

Of the 284 clicks we received, the rounded edges received 54 percent of the clicks.

Takeaway: Of all of the tests we ran on our email CTA buttons, this was the one without a clear definitive winner. Make sure to keep your design consistent and don’t use shapes that are inconsistent with your branding or style.

Don’t Forget to Test Your Email Call to Action

A lot of factors go into clicks — not just the button itself.

You have to think about all of the parts that make up an email:

The subject line, imagery, copy, timing…

Then you have the brand’s reputation, relationship with the subscriber, overall relevancy of the email itself…

These all play their part in what we see as a click-through rate.

While there are multiple other things we could test with our email CTA buttons, we hope you can take this data and put it into your email campaigns.

Think differently about your buttons, and strive to get better results.

If you’re looking to get better results on your email campaigns, give Delivra a look.

Our email marketing automation platform is the highest user-rated platform on the market. View our recorded video tour here.


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