You’ve planned and created your best email campaign yet and you’re excited to hit “send.”

Now, before you do, ask yourself this question, “Did I remember to include an actionable CTA?”

We don’t mean a simple “buy now” CTA. If you want your CTA to be truly effective, you must know how to write your CTAs to fit your campaign.

Common CTA strategies include “Buy now!” or “Visit today!” However, to make your CTA truly stand out, you need to stay up to date on CTA writing and design best practices and take some time to learn from outstanding, real-world examples.

How to write your CTAs: It will affect the success of your campaigns.

Each of your email campaigns serves a purpose. Without a CTA, your subscribers have nothing to act on, leaving your emails nearly useless. Having either a hyperlinked CTA or a clickable button CTA gives your readers a chance to act on something, such as:

  • Downloading a freebie
  • Clipping a virtual coupon
  • Heading over to your shop to browse

An effective CTA example from Victoria’s Secret

Source: Gmail/Victoria’s Secret

Without these CTAs, there is, again, nothing for your readers to act on, making your emails nothing more than a digital piece of information—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you won’t get the ROI you’re aiming for without an actionable CTA.

Learning how to design and write your CTAs can make or break your campaign.

Taking the time to learn how to write your CTAs and design them can make a significant difference in the overall success of your email campaign. From placement to color choices and choosing between hyperlinked CTAs and button CTAs—they all play vital roles in not only whether your readers will choose to interact with your CTAs, but whether your readers will even notice them.

That said, here are some interesting facts regarding CTA creation and use in email marketing:

  • Forty-eight percent of brands choose to match their CTA to a color that they used in their brand logo – Really Good Emails
  • Button-based CTAs can improve click-through rates by 28% – Campaign Monitor
  • Benefit-focused copy in a CTA button can increase click-through rates by nearly 10% – Campaign Monitor
  • First-person text in a CTA can increase clicks by almost 90% – Campaign Monitor

button-based CTA example by Campaign Monitor

Source: Campaign Monitor

Having a CTA in your email marketing campaign can make all the difference. However, merely slapping in a traditional CTA simply won’t do it anymore. That’s why taking adequate time to learn how to write your CTAs and how to design them is crucial.

Learning how to design your CTAs effectively

Traditionally, email designers put little thought into designing the actual CTA that was included within the body of an email campaign. For many years, this was simply left to the writing team because hyperlinked CTAs were the way to go. In many cases, these CTAs are still perfectly acceptable. For example, in the case of this welcome email from social media guru, Kelsey Chapman.

Example of a hyperlinked CTA by Kelsey Chapman

Source: Gmail/Kelsey Chapman

As we move into a new century, technology is changing, and with it are consumer preferences. That’s why it’s vital to know not only how to write your CTAs, but how to design them as well. So we’ve compiled an essential list of the most crucial CTA design best practices that you should keep in mind during your email design phase.

CTA buttons perform better than hyperlinked CTA text.

While hyperlinked CTA text is still a viable design option, brands have noticed that consumers prefer a clickable button CTA over a hyperlinked CTA. In fact, during our own research, we found that simply adjusting our CTA in one campaign from hyperlinked text to a clickable button increased our overall click-throughs by 127%.

CTA button vs. hyperlinked text example

Source: Campaign Monitor

Make sure your CTA is clearly identifiable.

One reason why consumers prefer clickable CTA buttons is that they’re much easier to find than hyperlinked text options. Unfortunately, while using a hyperlinked CTA is still common practice, many brands leave the text in the same color as the rest of the email text. This makes it nearly impossible to identify quickly.

Here’s the thing: Only a handful of your readers are going to take the time to read your email. The rest are going to scan for important information, including the CTA button. If it’s not easy to spot, then your readers are going to move on without a second thought.

CTA placement is vital.

Since more consumers are spending time scanning their emails for relevant information, it’s vital to consider the placement of your CTA within the body of your email. While many brands include their CTAs at the end of the message, you want to place your CTA above the fold.

Above the fold means within the first viewing window your readers get after opening your message. The more scrolling a reader has to do, the less likely they are to find and click on your CTA.

Example of a CTA placed above the fold

Source: Really Good Email

Learning how to write your CTAs effectively

Now that you’ve gotten a chance to review some CTA design best practices, adopt the same philosophy into how you write your CTAs to get the most out of each campaign.

Always include action-oriented text.

Remember, the entire point of your email marketing efforts is to drive action. The most effective way to do that is by always including action-oriented text within your CTA. Popular action words for CTAs include:

  • Try
  • Buy
  • Get
  • Order
  • Reserve
  • Download
  • Add
  • Sign up
  • Register

 Examples of CTAs with actionable text

Source: Self-made

Avoid “friction words.”

While you want your CTAs to be actionable, you also want to make sure you avoid the use of friction words. Friction words are either words or phrases that imply your reader must do something that they may not really want to do. Some common friction words that are traditionally used in email marketing CTAs include:

  • Submit
  • Order
  • Download

While these are all actionable words, they tell the reader what to do instead of encouraging them. Here are various ways you can alter your CTAs to include frictionless words:

  • Download – Get
  • Order – Reserve
  • Apply – Learn

Example of an actionable, frictionless CTA from Breguet

Source: Really Good Emails

CTA text should be both large and legible.

When designing your email CTA, we mentioned that you have to make it easily noticeable. The most effective way to do that is by making sure your text is both legible and big enough to stand out. However, that doesn’t mean you want to make it obnoxious.

Take this example from Resy. Their CTA is very legible, thanks to the font and coloring they chose during the design phase. They took it a step further by choosing to bolden the text. Notice, however, that it doesn’t look clunky or out of place.

 Example of a bold, short and sweet email CTA from Resy.

Source: Really Good Emails

The best way to make your CTA bold and legible is by choosing a font that matches your text hierarchy. To do this, choose something similar to the fonts that you used for your heading text.

Keep CTA text short and sweet.

Along with having a bold, legible CTA comes one that’s both short and sweet. At this point, your reader should already understand the benefit of clicking on your CTA, so you want to keep the text short and simple. Ideally, your CTA will only be 3-5 words in length. Anything more than that begins to look too messy.

Short and sweet email CTAs in action

Source: Gmail/Chewy

First person/personalization goes a long way in your CTA.

Now, adding first person into your email CTA doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as saying “Reserve my seat” instead of “reserve a seat.” Studies have shown that simply changing this one word in a CTA can increase clicks by nearly 90%, a number that warrants consideration.

If first-person doesn’t really sound right in your mind, then simply personalizing with the second-person point of view works great too. So, instead of “reserve a seat,” you can opt for “reserve your seat.” This added touch of personalization makes your call to action that much more inviting to your subscribers.

Example of a personalized CTA by PlayStation

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

Knowing how to write your CTAs is a vital part of your email marketing process. Again, if you want to see the ROI from this marketing strategy, you have to give your email subscribers something to do.

When it comes to your email CTAs, you’ll want to keep in mind some of the design and writing tips we’ve minted, including:

  • Include action-oriented text
  • Avoiding “friction words”
  • Using a button vs. hyperlinked text
  • Keeping it short and sweet

Looking for a little more guidance on how to write and optimize your email CTAs? Then make sure you check out our email CTA optimization guide today.


in-app messaging for conversion

At Growth Con in San Francisco last December, Sujan Patel, CEO and founder of Mailshake, said that what customers struggle with the most when using their company’s cold email software isn’t the tool.

It’s knowing what to write.

Recently, Lead Sales Engineer, Russell Vaughn said the same thing. As we launch new automation features for email and in-app messages, what beta users are having a hard time with isn’t the tool.

Again, it’s knowing what to write.

If you want to use automation to your advantage but aren’t sure what you would say, then this post is for you. We’ve got examples, use cases, and templates to get you up and running, so you’re not just staring at a blank page.

Side note: Looking for an Intercom replacement that will help you increase revenue and reduce churn? Check out how GoSquared stacks up against Intercom.

What are in-app messages?

what are in-app messages

In-app messages refer to messages that you include in your web-based app. This could be any chat prompt or a message that website users can click on to view. In-app messages help direct customers to a certain help desk page or a feature explainer video, or they offer personalized help via chat.

While in-app messages typically refer to messages in a web-based app, they can also refer to chat messages used on a website by an ecommerce company, for example, where the website is essentially their shopping app.

What types of companies need in-app messaging?

what companies need in-app messaging?

A variety of companies use in-app messages, but these industries are the most common.


It’s well known that when it comes to SaaS, acquisition is only half the battle, maybe even less than half. One of the biggest challenges with SaaS is optimizing and maintaining product usage, so that users keep their subscription active over months or years.

Even the most simple-to-use SaaS products still require some training for most people to understand how to use them. In-app messages can help with onboarding and new feature adoption.


For the most part, ecommerce companies will use in-app messages to prompt website visitors to let them know if they need help with anything.

Because there aren’t going to be cut-and-dry answers or resources that work in the ecommerce space (as there often is for SaaS), messaging will mostly prompt live chat.

Education and community

Education, community-building websites, and potentially even media websites may need to make use of in-app chat for certain announcements or to request feedback. They might also use them to help explain how to use the site and get the most of it.

What are some examples of in-app messages?

some examples of in-app messaging

Ready for some inspiration? Here are a few in-app messaging examples from ecommerce and SaaS companies.

Offer to help

This example features really smart copy. How many times have you seen a boring in-app message that offers to help you with “anything.” Successful copy relies on specificity, and “anything” is way too generic.

offer to help

Notice that line, “I can answer your questions about fit and style” and also “Chat with a fit expert.”

Everything about this message is on fire. It’s highly specific, helpful, and makes you feel like you’re going to get quality help if you engage.

Regardless of what kind of website or web-based app you have, you can absolutely learn from this example, and get very specific in the copy for your in-app messages.

Promote upcoming webinars

In SaaS, sometimes the easiest, quickest way for a new user to get started is to attend a thirty-minute webinar. Sure they could spend hours digging through your help desk guides, but a quick group demo can often get them started faster than anything else can.

promote your webinar

Instead of just offering to help with live chat, the InVideo in-app message also promotes their upcoming live webinar to new users.

Get feedback

Where would any of us be without feedback? Probably not very successful. The same is true for your web-based app. Hotjar drinks their own Kool-Aid and offers a place to leave feedback. You simply click on the Feedback tab, and then click on a face, and then you enter a reason for why you choose that face.

giving feedback

Many companies will use in-app messaging as a way to collect feedback, simply by asking people to reply. This is especially smart to do after you redesign an important page or launch something new.

Answer questions

Hubspot uses their in-app message to direct users to help guides based on what page they’re on. So if you’re on the ads page, you’re given links to guides on setting up attribution. If you’re on the contacts page, you can learn how to merge contacts.

answer your customers questions

Users might still have other questions and need to engage in live chat, but for companies with mass amounts of users, it’s wise to proactively answer their questions to reduce the number of people who end up needing to chat with a representative.

What are all of the use cases for in-app messages?

in-app messaging use case

There are many other use cases, probably an infinite number. Let’s take a look at the top ones.

Launching a new feature

When users click on a brand new feature area for the first time, you can have an in-app message that either pops up or waits to be clicked on. The message can briefly explain the feature and then direct users towards a short video tutorial or guide on how to use it.

Launching a new product line

Ecommerce companies might not want to include an in-app message on blogs or low-intent pages every time they launch a new product (that could get annoying). But for launching new product lines, which are more exciting and buzz-worthy, a chat prompt can say something simple like, “We just launched [blank], our new product that helps you [blank]. Want to check it out?”

Welcoming a new user

You probably want to treat active users differently than how you treat sporadic users. For many companies, this sort of automation is a great idea, but is hard to do in real life. In-app messaging lets you achieve this. Inside of GoSquared, you can create a Smart Group including anyone who hasn’t been on your site or in your app for a certain number of days.

You can direct them to a certain help guide, your most valuable feature, or anything else that makes sense.

Continued product onboarding

Onboarding isn’t just something that happens in the first few weeks or days. It takes time. Especially for more complex SaaS products, new users may not get deeper into your feature set for a month or longer.

With in-app messages, you can create a sequence so that users get introduced to a new feature or tip every month.

Offering special deals or incentives to power users

It’s silly to try and turn every user into an advocate or affiliate. It’s just not realistic. Plus, any sort of promotion for your affiliate program could confuse your new users.

With smart in-app messaging, you could segment out your most valuable customers or power users.

Then send them messages about your affiliate program or offer them incentives to share your content or products. With a tool like Sociamonials you can offer prizes and monetary incentives for any sort of sharing.

Warning of upcoming maintenance

Now onto a use case that’s a whole lot less fun: planned maintenance. In-app messaging is one of the best ways that you can warn users ahead of time when your app will be down.

Special announcements

Partnering up with a top celebrity for a new campaign? Launching some event that’s happening offline? Announcing an acquisition that might impact users?

Whatever the reason, you can use in-app messages to deliver special announcements. With smart segmenting, you can make sure to leave out brand new users or whoever else you want to.

What are the steps for writing in-app messages that work?

how to write in-app messages

Now that you have some ideas of the types of in-app messages that you might want to send, it’s time to dig into the nitty-gritty steps of how to write an effective message.

1. Set a goal

set a goal

Don’t bombard your users. There should always be a really good reason for why you’re automating a message. Here are some example goals:

  • Drive new users to our Quick Start Guide
  • Drive more high-intent website visitors to initiate a live chat session
  • Drive users who signed up 14 days ago to use an advanced feature

Open up a new Google doc or take out a notepad. Take a look at the examples and use cases above and use them as inspiration for your own goals. Most likely you’ll have multiple.

set goals for your messaging

2. Segment the audience according to the goal

segment your audience

For each goal, you can write out what criteria you would use to segment customers or website visitors. Depending on the goal, you may have multiple sets of criteria.

Here are example criteria for the three goals above:

  • Account created less than 14 days ago
  • On pricing page longer than 30 seconds
  • Account created more than 14 days ago

segment your audience

Inside of GoSquared, you can segment your CRM of leads, visitors, and customers using Events like “Viewed pricing page” or “Completed transaction.”

segment your audience using GoSquared

You can also use tons of different Properties to filter leads, visitors, and customers.

filtering features GoSquared

3. Write in a way that is short, clear, and on-brand

write strong messages

When you write your messages, make sure to make them as short as possible. Write your rough draft one day, and then go back and edit them the next day. Can you make them shorter?

Get feedback from your team. Share your spreadsheet with relevant colleagues to see if they’re confused by any of the messages, or if they can help remove unnecessary words.

And don’t forget to make sure the messages are on-brand. Is your brand funny, witty, playful, professional, or a combination of these?

Here are some message templates that match the goals and criteria above:

  • If you get stuck on your journey to [outcome that your product provides], we’ve got a Quick Start Guide that’s easy to follow.
  • Unsure if
    meets your needs? Are you looking for a particular feature?
  • [Product name] can also help you [secondary use case]. Check out [Feature name].

write strong copy

Successful in-app messages exist for a reason, are served to the right users, and written in the clearest way possible.

Did you know that GoSquared is launching email and in-app messaging automation? These features are built right on top of our analytics so our customers can achieve data-driven marketing automation in one, easy-to-use platform.