What We Learned Testing Our Email Call-to-Action Buttons

There’s something just about an email call-to-action, right? You kind of have to click it. Well, as long as it's the right call-to-action (CTA).

CTAs are the gateways to getting subscribers and customers to engage. They drive the reader to perform a specific task. They are like money in the marketing world. Or, maybe they’re like a cash register just waiting for money.

That’s powerful stuff when it comes to sales intent. Remember reading “Click Here” on every button you ever saw? That was a fad. Now, you see all different kinds of email call-to-action practices out there in your inbox and you’re trying to figure out which ones will drive clicks.

Well, we are too.

So we took a long hard look in the mirror about the different email marketing CTA 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.

This might take a little creativity and A/B testing on your part, but we did the initial testing for you.

Don’t let our results hold you back, though. Just because one thing didn’t go well for our audience doesn’t mean it won’t go over well with your audience. Likewise, what works for us may not work for you.

Now, on to our email CTA test.

The Delivra email call-to-action experiment

How does one create the most clickable CTA? 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 rate:

  • Is your subject line compelling enough to be opened?
  • Is your email rendering properly in all email clients?
  • Does your email look good on a mobile device?
  • Will your subscriber even read the whole message?

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 CTA?
  • What is the best size for our email CTA?
  • 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 our email call-to-action buttons

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

But what if we chose a more neutral color like blue?

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

This is a Flume email example that includes a great email call-to-action button.

Source: Campaign Monitor

The pink email call-to-action drove a 30% 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.

Either way, try out a few different colors to see what works best for your audience. For that matter, experiment with all of the colors in your email–swap out your header and footer color to see what impact that has.

Size of our email call-to-action buttons

Even though a majority of emails are opened on mobile devices, we wanted to see 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.

Our typical button size is 49px tall and 292px wide.

So we added some beef to our button, making the new one 76px tall and 436px wide.

That’s a super-sized email CTA but we learned that bigger isn’t always better. 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%. That’s a significant decrease in click-through rates, almost 20%.

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 help. If you receive more mobile clicks than desktop clicks, optimize for mobile recipients and vice versa. Go ahead and try a bigger button and see if it works for you–don’t be intimidated by our results.

Wording used in our email call-to-action buttons

The right verb can go a long way to 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. Or “Get $25 Off Your First Order” for a retail clothing store.

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

Would a subscriber be more inclined to click seeing Learn More, or would a different verb get them to click? So we reused a previous CTA, Show Me How.

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

Takeaway: Play around with 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. “Act Fast” is another great example of wording that provides a sense of urgency.

Character length of our email call-to-action buttons

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 the phrase “App Connections” into the CTA would increase clicks. What we knew for sure was this would greatly increase the number of characters we used in the CTA.

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

We learned the Show Me App Connections CTA drove 19% 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. Push the boundaries a little bit to see if it yields higher results. There’s virtually no risk to continue A/B testing.

Location of our email call-to-action buttons

We have a common format for our email newsletters: a title, an image, some copy, and finally our call-to-action. But we wanted to know if moving the button higher up in the email would increase the number of clicks.

So, we changed our positioning to be title, the CTA, the image, and some copy. 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.

We discovered that we received 47% fewer 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 in 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 with the CTA positioned early in the email, and it showed in our lower click-through rate.

Shape of our email call-to-action buttons

Rounded edges are commonly used as the shape of many buttons. If you’ve noticed even we use rounded edges. But there are other shapes out there: completely square buttons with 90-degree corners, a pill-shaped button, an oval-shaped button, and you could even get a designer to come up with any shape to use as a button.

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

And here were the results: Of the 284 clicks we received, the rounded edges received 54% 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. Also, be mindful of shapes that could be misconstrued. Simple shapes are likely the best option for most companies.

Don’t forget to test your email call-to-action buttons

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, etc

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.

A/B testing for open rates and click-through rates is the best way to find out what CTA buttons work best for you. Combine that with A/B testing on your email subject lines and you’ll be well on your way to polished copy in no time.

Wrap up

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.

Use our method of A/B testing to figure out the best call-to-action buttons for your email campaigns.

Let’s recap on the important components of email call-to-action buttons:

  • Color: Test out complementary colors for maximum effect.
  • Size: Bigger may not be better, but your audience will let you know.
  • Wording: Language is important so be smart in your wording.
  • Characters: Too many characters will impact the size of your button.
  • Location: Whether it’s higher or lower, test this one out.
  • Shape: Though not the most influential, be consistent.

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. Request a demo here.

We use cookies to serve personalized content and targeted advertisements to you, which gives you a better browsing experience and lets us analyze site traffic. Review our cookie information to learn more. You can manage your cookie preferences at any time.