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CTA Best Practices That Work (with examples)

Not to be underestimated, a call to action is brief but powerful if it’s well-executed. Keep your sales emails up to date with our collection of CTA best practices and examples.
Rocco Savage
Head of Growth

Used in everything from email campaigns to blogs and landing pages, a call to action (CTA) is an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to conversion rates. A CTA requests its viewer to take action while providing a clear path for doing so. Whether you’re requesting that a potential buyer books a demo or simply makes time for you on their calendar, it’s your job to make that request clear and simple to act on. 

When it comes to cold emailing, an early goal is to book a discovery meeting or call. It won’t happen without including a CTA. This means your CTA is one of the most important structural components of an email. Typically included toward the end of a message, a CTA gives your prospect a next step, making your message actionable in a specific and relevant way. The psychology behind a CTA’s effectiveness is another topic for another time, but here we’ll cover best practices. 

Example

“Let me know if this sounds like something worth exploring for {{!! RECIPIENT COMPANY }}.”

A CTA like this one is meant to establish whether or not your prospect has an interest in your company. Similar CTAs can be more direct by swapping out the words “let me know” with “does this sound like something worth exploring?” The details are up to you, so long as you’re able to pose the question in a way that makes a response logical. 

Best Practice Tip

Include only one CTA. Sales emails need to be concise and to the point. If you have a lot of information to share with your customers, send them a link to a blog post or a video rather than typing everything out. You shouldn't overwhelm prospects with too many options either. Asking to schedule a meeting, submit a demo request and answer qualifying questions all in the same message is too much. No one wants to be approached with a to-do list. The single CTA in your email should relate to one specific desired next step. 

Example

“Are you interested in seeing data I’ve put together from our clients also in your industry?” 

Many people might phrase this CTA as, “Would you be interested…” but we recommend sticking with “Are you?” Not only does it make more sense, it takes on a more authoritative tone than the former. Your CTA shouldn’t sound pushy, but it also doesn’t need to sound meek. 

Additional information is often helpful to potential clients and a great way for reps to add value to their campaigns, but it’s best to ask for permission prior to sending a download or link. On the surface, it communicates the respect of not assuming they want to see more. It's also a way to be mindful of the realities of phishing and cyber-attacks. Your initial email will help establish that you are who you say you are and their cyber security isn’t at risk. You're also encouraging a response by asking for an answer.

You can personalize this CTA by being more specific about the additional information you’d like to send. Think about the value propositions that are relevant to the prospect you’re emailing and find a way to tie those into this CTA.

Example

“I’ve linked my calendar to make scheduling a 15-minute conversation about [[value-proposition]] convenient.” 

When your CTA requests a meeting, always send a calendar invite. You don’t have to note that you’re sending one like this example does; just make sure it’s there. Back and forth about scheduling have become tiresome to almost everyone and risks losing your prospect’s interest in the process. With a calendar invite, they’re able to comb through your schedule and make their decision immediately after reading your message. No waiting, no back and forth, just a simple click. 

Best Practice Tip

It’s common for CTAs to request a meeting or call. The best way to do this is by indicating exactly how much time you’re asking for, and by suggesting a specific date and time. Sending a link to your calendar is a great way to make your CTA especially actionable and easy to follow.

However, you shouldn't request to meet for 30 minutes or longer. This is inconsiderate of your prospect’s time and will likely turn them off. We recommend playing it safe with a request for 15 minutes. Some teams even request 5 minutes for their first meeting, which requires very little of the prospect.

Example

“When’s the best time for us to connect to discuss [[painpoint]]?” or “When can we expand on the topic of [[painpoint]]?” 

If you're absolutely opposed to including a calendar link or specifying a time and date, using a CTA like this one is another way to ask for a meeting. While it can lead to back and forth, it can also be perceived as less pushy than requesting a specific date. For some prospects, this CTA's relaxed feel might be appreciated.

Just keep in mind that the more specific your CTA is, the more actionable it’s likely to be. You can also ask your prospect to send their calendar, however, doing so might be perceived as adding another item to their to-do list.

Best Practice Tip

Your CTA should close a concise, value-packed, personalized email for your prospect. A CTA won’t convince your prospect to take action if the rest of the email hasn’t already convinced them. You’ll need a strong email for your CTA to have any impact at all.

Example

“Which of the following best describes where you’re at right now? 

1. I’m not interested.

2. I’m interested but now isn’t the right time.

3. I’m interested and think we should talk.

Reply with a 1 or 2 or 3 and we’ll go from there.” 

The CTA from this example is a relatively newer style and makes the next step easy for your prospect. They're able to get what they want out of the conversation by responding with only a single digit. The CTA's text is also easy to swap out for a pain point or value proposition-focused survey, or even a “how do you want me to proceed” question. 

Best Practice Tip

You’ve been told to make your CTAs clear a thousand times. It’s sound advice, but the message can get lost in repetition. It’s worth taking a moment to think about what clarity really means. A clear CTA is coherent, detailed and understandable even out of context. “Let’s discuss next steps,” works as a CTA, but a stronger one would communicate what exactly the next step is. Be as detailed as you can, especially with prospects who seem reticent. 

Example

“Is fixing [[painpoint]] a priority for you right now?” 

Most of your CTAs shouldn’t be a yes or no question, but occasionally this is the right move. Especially when your email’s body copy has focused on a pain point. You can summarize the information you’ve just shared or the questions you’ve just asked with a simple CTA like this one. 

Best Practice Tip

Your CTA is best when it’s unique. You don’t want the CTA that closes your email to sound like a formality. Your prospect needs to feel that you’re genuinely interested in them, not just going through the motions, otherwise you have no chance of convincing them. This can be done by honing in on what you need from them and what they can expect from you. Evaluate what your perfect next step looks like and what it entails of your prospect, then do your best to phrase it in plain, sincere language. 

For example, let's say that Jerry, of Tom and Jerry, emailed Tom about forming a truce. The email might look something like:

“You’ve broken bones, stubbed every one of your paws and suffered more head injuries than either of us can count while trying to catch me. I myself am exhausted from all the running and booby traps. Can we meet to discuss a weekly armistice every Thursday for the rest of the year?”

Jerry's hypothetical CTA is specific. It’s not just, “let’s discuss a truce.” It provides Tom with information on what exactly Jerry is proposing. The ask isn't abstract or vague. Adding detail to your CTAs will help ease a prospect's reticence because they'll know what to expect, and therefore, what's at stake. Before Jerry's email, Tom wasn't even thinking about an armistice. Now he feels like he could potentially lose an opportunity for peace if he doesn't take the meeting.

Example

Have you thought about your top 3 goals for the coming year?”

A CTA like this one is great for the beginning of a conversation, when you’re still introducing yourself and trying to get to know your prospect. It usually closes an email that isn’t about selling at all.

Instead, the body copy can offer some helpful information on something relevant to your prospect like a reaction to a LinkedIn blog they wrote or congratulating them for an accomplishment. This CTA can even be used when you have a referral. Tailor it where necessary so it’s relevant to the rest of the email and don’t use this CTA on prospects that want cold hard facts from you. Consider this example the social butterfly of CTAs.

Best Practice Tip

This one sounds obvious, but it’s worth saying. Your CTA needs to be actionable. How? Imagine it was sent to you, would you know what to do next? Whether it’s replying with an answer, scheduling a meeting, downloading a PDF or heading over to your company’s website, your CTA needs to tell your prospect exactly what to do next. You should never receive the words “what are the next steps?” from your prospect in their reply. Usually if they have that question, you won’t hear from them at all. 

Example

Let’s meet.”

When you think about CTAs on websites or in many email campaigns, they’ll use wording that sounds a bit more alluring or charming than, “are you free on Monday for a 15-minute call?”. Do your best to channel your marketing team’s energy when it comes to a CTA, especially when the tone of your email’s body copy is more lighthearted than serious. Hyperlink your calendar over your CTA so your prospect can simply click the text.

Best Practice Tip

Just like you should only use one CTA, your CTA should also only ask for one thing. Don’t give your prospect an entire to-do list or they’ll move on without looking back. They’re doing you a favor by giving you their time, even if ultimately it’s you that’s helping them.

A CTA like this one, “Please download the case study I’ve attached before checking out my calendar to find a time to meet,” is technically two CTAs in one sentence. Keep it simple, and stick with one desired action (this will also keep your word count down, which is usually helpful).

Example

“Let’s start a new project together.”

Again, link your calendar over these words for a CTA that has a bit more charm than our other examples. However, you should be judicious about using a CTA like this one, as it’s pretty vague. This example is best used when ongoing correspondence has already taken place or you’ve provided a good amount of information in your email’s body copy. It would be presumptuous to use this CTA right out of the gate. 

Best Practice Tip

Make sure that what you’re asking of your prospect in your CTA is easy to do. You’re not selling to people who have ample amounts of free time, so keep their schedule and responsibilities in mind when you write your CTA. Step into your prospect’s shoes to heighten the value of your CTA and your email overall. The more you're able to think like your prospect, the better you’ll be able to address their needs and hold their interest. 

Example

“Experience your free trial today.”

Free trials add quite a bit of value to cold emails, especially if it's your only request. Let your product speak for itself by offering it to your prospect for free. The only consideration here is remembering to stay in contact throughout their trial and after. Be there to offer guidance on using your product, receive feedback and answer questions.

Not only can a free trial help your prospect fall in love with your product, it can also provide a solid reason to continue building rapport until you’re ready to sell. If your team or company doesn’t currently offer free trials, float the idea to relevant leadership and see what kind of feedback you get. Maybe they’ve considered it before but decided not to offer one. If you can make the option available, you’ll likely see an increase in your sales won.

Best Practice Tip

Follow-up quickly after your prospect has completed your CTA. How long it takes you to follow-up can actually be the difference between a sale won and a sale lost. Whether that means checking your email religiously, making sure all the relevant alerts are set on your phone or ensuring that follow-up messages are automated, you need to get back to your prospect ASAP. Aim for within five minutes of their response. 

However you choose to use your CTAs, definitely make sure you’re using them. Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not, play around with your phrasing and remember that a strong CTA won’t save poorly written body copy.

There’s a lot of trial and error that goes into cold emailing, but if you extract feedback from each of your attempts, you’ll have no issue refining details like your CTAs. In the spirit of CTAs, we’ll leave you with one of our own. Head over to regie.ai for your demo of our sequence builder, where every CTA is written for you. 

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