Are you unhappy with the click-through rates of your email campaigns?

You’re writing great copy and using beautiful images, but for some reason your click-through rates are lower than you’d like them to be.

The problem could be the calls to action you’re using.

With the release of our new email builder Canvas, it’s now super easy to add call to action buttons anywhere in your email.

But is it worth it? Do buttons improve click-through rates over using standard text links? We decided to investigate.

Do buttons increase click-through rates?

At Campaign Monitor we’re huge fans of A/B testing, it increases the click-through rate of our own email campaigns and enables us to share what we learned with you! So we decided to test using a link vs. a button as the main call to action in one of our recent campaigns to figure out which works best.

Here’s the version of our email with the link as a CTA at the bottom:

And here’s the version of our email with the button as a CTA at the bottom:

The result? Using a call to action button instead of just a text link got us a 28% increase in click-throughs.

We’ve also seen other results that further support the effectiveness of buttons over linked text. For instance, we received a 127% increase in click-throughs when we redesigned our blog subscribers email a few months ago, and the addition of a button over a text link was a significant contributor to this.

Why buttons increase click-through rates

So why do buttons increase click-through rates? Both the button and the link have the same copy and offer the same end result, so why such a big difference?

Research shows most people scan email campaigns rather than reading them word-for-word, so using buttons for your call to action means they will stand out to skimmers while text links will often go overlooked.

This is because buttons have a number of unique attributes linked text doesn’t, including:

  • Size – Often times a button will be much larger in size than a linked piece of text, catching the skimmer’s eye.
  • Design – Buttons often have design elements that links don’t, such as shadows, gradients and other effects. This can make them ‘pop’ off the page and stand out to skimmers.
  • Color – Often buttons will have a different color to the background and text, and this contrast draws the eye and makes the reader notice them more.
  • Whitespace – When a button is set away from other elements in the email, the whitespace around it creates an area free from distraction – leading the reader right to it.

Using a button for your call to action draws significantly more attention to it, making it easier for a reader to take the conversion action and ultimately resulting in an increased number of people doing so.

Here’s how to add buttons to your email marketing campaigns

Now that it’s clear how CTA buttons can help improve your conversion rates, it’s time to incorporate some into an email campaign of your own. Unfortunately, many email clients opt to block images by default so creating your button as an image isn’t the best idea.

So how do you add buttons to your email campaigns?

If you’re using Canvas, you can easily add beautiful buttons that work across all devices and email clients by simply dragging and dropping the button wherever you need it. Alternatively, you can use the Bulletproof Button Tool to create customised buttons that will work across all devices and clients. You simply select the options you want, enter the text for your button and then copy and paste the code into whatever email tool you are using.

In conclusion

Using buttons for your calls to action can help increase the click-through rate of your email campaigns, and tools like Canvas and Bulletproof Buttons makes it simple to get started.

So give it a try — test a link vs. a button in your next email campaign and let us know if you saw a difference. Just make sure to get your microcopy right.

If you’ve already implemented buttons as CTAs, what tactics have you found work best? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Dan

    Kind of obvious.
    I am big fan of having both in case email is opened on mobile while commuting to work and there if no network. This may improve CTR even more.

  • elise

    Might I add that your footer buttons are particularly wonderful! Fancy coding there!

  • MerryChristmas

    Did you just discover this? It’s common knowledge in the email marketing world and has been for a decade!

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Dan – yes, I was just talking to a few folks yesterday about this, having a mix of buttons and links is prudent. Thanks for sharing!

    elise – Hah, thank you so much! Props to Stig and Nicole on our team for putting a lot of love into the bulletproof buttons :)

    MerryChristmas – Hah, but for those who haven’t been sending emails for a decade, it could be a good reminder/tip. Have a happy new year :D

  • Christopher

    Tired regurgitation of old news. I expect better articles from you guys

  • Beddoes

    Ha, wow, what is this?! Cheers up guys! I still get plenty of email from people who aren’t doing this, it’s a vital tip for newbies.

  • Jaina

    What would be interesting to find out is if there’s a glut of CTA buttons vs. a good mixture of text links + 1 major button CTA, and see what difference that makes.

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Jaina, that’s a great idea for a test! We did look at the effect of multiple links, but focusing on the use of buttons + links could be really interesting. We’ll see if we can do some solid research around this at a later date, many thanks!

  • Ravi Shah

    Great article Aaron! CTA buttons have been known to give splendid results and your article reflects on it too well. And of course Canvas makes it too easy! We at Email Monks believe that size, color, placement and design of the CTA button – matter a lot. We have it elaborated on:

  • Kim

    The “Bulletproof” Button-Tool you are linking to does not work for Outlook 2007/2010, do you have a hack to make it work there? Too many of our B2B-Clients still do use the old Outlook . . .

  • Ros Hodgekiss

    Hi Kim, that’s unusual – would it be possible for us to send us details, including a link to the campaign and a screenshot of what you’re seeing in Outlook? We’re happy to help get the buttons working for you.

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