How to Use Calls-to-Action to Increase Email Engagement
If you've ever heard me speak about the value of email marketing for bloggers, you've probably heard me say at some point that I place a higher value on engagement than on the size of your list.
After all, what's the point of growing your list if nobody is opening or reading the emails you send? I would much rather see a list of 500 subscribers with a 40-50% open rate than a list of 50,000 subscribers with a 10% open rate.
"But Kirsten," you scream, "we've been told for so long to grow our email list! Grow, grow, grow!" Yes, friend, I know. And I do want you to grow that email list, but I want it to be full of members of your target audience, people who actually want to be on your list because they want more of what you have to say.
Bottom line: I want you to have ENGAGEMENT. One of the best ways to increase engagement in your emails is by using a very simple little tool called a "call-to-action". Calls-to-action can drastically increase email engagement rates if used strategically, so let's get right down to business.
How many blog posts have you read that promise to help you "Grow Your List to 10,000 Subscribers in 3 Months!" or other unrealistic and unnecessary promises?
Yes, email list growth is important. Yes, I want you to have a huge email list. But I don't want you to focus solely on the size of your list because that's only the tip of the email iceberg.
More important than the size of your email list is the engagement rate - open rates and click rates. High open and click rates are like gold. You want the majority of your list opening and reading your emails, then taking action on the links inside.
But how??? Calls-to-Action.
TYPES OF CALLS-TO-ACTION
Calls-to-action are exactly what you think: You telling readers to do something - to take action. Calls-to-action can take many forms but ultimately end with your reader doing something you've asked them to do.
Calls-to-action are used quite frequently in blog posts and even on social media but are often overlooked in email, but can be quite valuable. It's important, however, to make them clear and easy.
CLICKS TO TWEET
If you're on Wordpress, you might have the Click-to-Tweet plug-in installed on your blog and use it inside blog posts. (I used one earlier in this post.) It's a handy plug-in because it encourages readers to share your post, and they can do so with 2 clicks.
There is also a website called Click to Tweet that allows you to create clickable tweets and add them anywhere you can share a link, like in your emails!
Simply create your tweet, add your Twitter handle and Click to Tweet will generate a short URL that you can copy and paste into the body of your email.
The link within the tweet itself can be a link to your landing page or sign-up form, if you're having readers tweet about joining your email list, or you can link to a blog post you want readers to share.
The free version of this tool allows you to create and track 5 tweets per month. You can create unlimited tweets, but only the first 5 of each month are tracked. You can see the analytics of these tracked tweets in your dashboard. Pro plans are less than $5/month if you want to track more than 5 tweets per month.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
It's rare that everyone on your email list follows you on all of your social media platforms, and vice versa. If you have a great conversation going on social media, mention it in your emails and invite your subscribers to weigh in on the conversation.
This is a great way to reintroduce subscribers to a community you host, like a Facebook group or a membership site with an active forum. Either screen shot part of the conversation and include it as a clickable image in your email, or simply share a brief recap and ask subscribers to "click to share your thoughts".
If the conversation happened in comments of a blog post or in a particular social media thread, be sure to share the direct link to that post or thread to make it easy for subscribers to jump right in.
SEE WHAT I'M PINNING
Pinterest is the 2nd largest non-Google search engine in the world, which means you want your readers to follow you there. Use the power of your email list to help grow your Pinterest following by including pins in your emails and telling readers to pin them.
The image above is a snippet of the email template I designed for Bread Booze Bacon on the MailChimp platform. She shares 4 pins in each of her emails and encourages subscribers to click through to repin them. This is easy to do with a line of HTML code, as shown below:
<a href="URL OF PIN"><img class="aligncenter" src="URL OF IMAGE" alt="" width="140" height="210"/></a>
Copy and paste this code for each Pinterest image you wish to share in your emails, replacing "URL OF PIN" and "URL OF IMAGE".
You could create a meal plan for your readers, share fun weekend craft ideas, give them some enjoyable reading material, or anything else you can think of.
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
We've already talked about inviting subscribers to join in on a conversation happening within your community, but inviting them to join the community itself is another call to action. This is particularly helpful if you host a private Facebook group or a membership site.
As I said earlier, it's rare that your subscribers follow you on all platforms, so encouraging them to join you in engaging communities that you host helps increase the likelihood that they will see more of your blog posts and updates, while also giving them the opportunity to connect with other members of your community and you in a very personal way. (Hello "know/like/trust" factor!)
FORWARD TO A FRIEND
We all know at least one person who enjoys the same things we enjoy, right? Take advantage of this and have your email subscribers help you grow your list. Here's a snippet from one of my own recent email broadcasts:
MailChimp gives you the option to add the "forward to a friend" button in the body of your emails, while in ConvertKit you can do this by simply writing a line or two with your request. (Link triggers can be used to make it super easy for those friends to subscribe with one click!)
ASK A QUESTION
This is my absolute favorite call-to-action to increase engagement in emails. I almost always end every email I send with a question to my readers, and I always, without fail, receive multiple responses.
Asking a question is a great way for you to find out more about your audience - what their struggles are, what they want to see from you, etc. A simple "tell me what you think" can go a long way to increase engagement. I love to use questions to help me map out content for my blog.
This was the question I asked in my most recent email broadcast. And yes, people do respond:
This is invaluable feedback directly from my target audience, allowing me to design content specifically related to their needs.
*Here's a big tip: If you receive emails from your readers, ALWAYS RESPOND. Even if it's just a simple "thank you", a response goes a long way towards establishing and maintaining trust with your readers.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING CALLS-TO-ACTION
- Do use calls-to-action that make sense for your email content.For example, if you include a click-to-tweet, be sure the context of the tweet itself is directly related to whatever you're talking about in your email.
- Don't overload your emails with tons of calls-to-action.Be strategic about the calls-to-action you use in your emails. Try to stick to no more than 2 per email, like one click-to-tweet and a request to forward to a friend.
- Do engage with readers who use your calls-to-action.Like, retweet, and reply to people who share on Twitter. Respond to emails you receive. Essentially, be present and let people know you're listening.
- Don't hide your calls-to-action in the text.Make it obvious by using bold and/or underlined text, or include graphics or buttons for your calls-to-action. Make it hard for readers to miss what you're asking them to do.