call to action Articles


How Split Testing Your CTA Will Boost Your Business

Posted by Katie Pilot on 06/17/2014

What is your reason for sending emails? To get subscribers, to get customers, to make sales to previous customers? Whatever your goal is, you’re always looking for your recipients to DO something.

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10 Case Studies To Help You Get More Clicks

Posted by Crystal Gouldey on 03/11/2013

Regardless of whether you want people to join your email list, make a purchase, follow you on social media or read the rest of an article, you’ll most likely need them to click on something. This “something” is how you call your visitors and readers to action. There are many ways to do this, and […]

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The Marketing Approach That Sells Without “Selling”

Posted by Amanda Gagnon on 01/28/2013

You may already be familiar with the idea of content marketing: putting awesome content out on the web to draw people to your web site or social pages. If you are, read on, and we’ll talk about how you can create the best kinds of content to promote your business. And if you’re not, read […]

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How To Meet Your 2013 Marketing Resolutions: Part 3

Posted by Crystal Gouldey on 01/17/2013

Perhaps you’re good with at managing your time and getting emails out to subscribers. Maybe you’re even happy with the number of new subscribers coming in. If that’s true, your 2013 email marketing goals might focus more on making your emails more effective. (If that’s not true, learn how to manage your time and emails […]

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How to Create an Eye Path In Marketing Emails

Posted by Amanda Gagnon on 06/01/2012

Big fonts, bright colors, pictures and graphics are powerful attractions for the drifting eye. Placed haphazardly in your marketing email, they can yank readers’ eyes around your message in an unorganized, ineffective fashion. Instead, you want to position them deliberately in the order you want readers to see. There are a few ways to make […]

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How to Make Your Call to Action Irresistible

Posted by Amanda Gagnon on 04/04/2012

In Marketing Sherpa’s Email Marketing Benchmark Report for 2012 (note the free excerpt offer!), email marketers reported an average clickthrough rate of 26%. If your rates aren’t that high, don’t fret – rates are going to vary somewhat by industry and by audience. But that’s not to say you can’t make efforts to attract as […]

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43 Free Animated Gifs for Your Email Campaign

Posted by Rebekah Henson on 01/18/2012

The new year is the perfect excuse to freshen up your email campaign, and we have a free gift to help with your improvements. Animated GIFs in emails are getting more and more popular – about 40% of retailers use animation in their emails at least occasionally. You can use them to liven up your […]

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Design Your Emails To Get More Responses

Posted by Crystal Gouldey on 07/22/2011

Of course you want subscribers to open and read your email newsletters. Everyone wants that. But what you want even more is for them to take action, right? When I was working with customers to optimize their email campaigns, I was on the lookout for strategies that help improve message. You first need to get […]

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Magically Change Your Email Post-Send

Magically Change Your Email Post-Send

Posted by Amanda Gagnon on 05/05/2011

When you send out your marketing emails, you probably have some hopes for response. You may also have a few thin-lipped expectations. And there’s always that fond dream of your content going viral.

All of which means you probably use the urgency tactic once in awhile. You know, the “six hours only!!” sale or the announcement of “just three copies left!!”

And this can certainly work. But if anyone opens your message too late, it thuds like a drop in a hollow bucket. Worse, if they try to click through to purchase, they could be cranky when they realize they’re too late.

What if you could magically make the email content adjust itself to the situation so when latecomers open it after the fact, they see a completely different message?

The “Oops! It’s Over” Announcement

First of all, keeping your message current like this is just good customer service.

Secondly, it shows you’re on top of things, which can only benefit your reputation.

And finally, it shows that the urgency of your offer is for real – if subscribers want your deals, they’d better open faster next time.

If you’re a product shown in your email sells out, create an image that reflects this and swap it with the previous image. Like in this email from women’s retailer Chadwick’s.


When your sale is over, replace your sale announcement with a notice that they missed it, but you’ll have others soon! And in the meantime, give them something else to do, like Home Depot did in this email.

And you don’t have to be a giant chain store to do it…you can just be one guy in front of a computer, or the tiny cafe down the street. It just requi


Swapping Out An Image

You can update any information in your email, as long as it’s in the form of an image.

Why? Because images don’t actually live in your message. They live on the web page you uploaded them to.

Think of that page’s URL as the image’s address. When someone opens your email, it displays whatever image it finds at that URL. So all you need to do to update your email post-send is change the image that lives on that URL.

To make the magic happen, you’ll need to be hosting your images on your own site manually, or via a content management software like WordPress. (This doesn’t work on public image hosting sites.)

If You Host Images Manually

This is an easy fix: after the sale or other event is over, use your FTP client or other file management software to upload the new image.

The advantage to this method is that you have complete control over the file’s URL; the catch is that it does require you to be familiar with using an FTP client or other file management soft


If you’re not familiar with FTP, here’s an article and a video on using it.

Here are a couple of FTP clients that you can use for this:

  • FireFTP (a plugin for the Firefox browser that works on Windows or Mac)
  • Cyberduck (software for Mac or PC)

If you don’t want to manage the file upload yourself, have a developer handle it for you, or try using a content management system like WordPress.

If You Use WordPress

Note: before you use WordPress to manage this, check to see if you’re organizing your uploads into folders based on the year and month you upload them. You can do this at the “Settings” > “Media” page in your WordPress admin area. If you are doing so, it may be better to not use WordPress for this, because in some cases you won’t be able to overwrite the original image properly from within WordPress.

  1. Upload your original image into your media gallery. Use the URL assigned to that image to place it in your email, as usual.
  2. When your sale is over or your product sold out, prepare for the switch. Important: give the replacement image (the one that says “sold out!” or something similar) the same name as the original.
  3. In your media gallery, delete the original image. Immediately upload the new image with the same name. Now when someone opens your email, it will follow the URL you’ve put into place and display the updated image.

Something to Consider

Remember, this method is only good for images. But if you make the entire email one big image, it might trip a spam filter. So only use images for the parts you’ll want to update later.

Just make sure the rest of your email looks good around both the original content and the update, and you’re good to go!

What Else Could You Swap?

Once you get this process down, you can get creative with how you use it. Announce the end of sales and sold out products. Change your price if something’s not selling (or selling too much at too low a price!)

Would you ever make these updates by swapping out the images? What other changes might you make?

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How to Get 147% More Readers

How to Get 147% More Readers

Posted by Amanda Gagnon on 11/16/2010

There are a lot of reasons why those people may answer “no” when your web form asks them to sign up for your emails. But change the design of your form, and some of them will answer “yes” instead.

It’s true. Here are the stories of two companies who netted huge increases in their subscription rates just by testing a design change.

Take a look at what they tested, then keep reading to find out what you could test to get results that are just as big.

Talking Avatar: + 131%

Small Business Trends, an online entrepreneurial publication, needed to find the right face to represent their newsletter in its sign-up offer.

They alternated a photo of the editor, Anita Campbell, with a talking avatar that resembled her.

SBT Avatar SmSBT Photo SM

Avatar Anita popped up as soon as the page loaded and talked for 20 seconds about why the viewer should subscribe, giving visitors much more information than the photo form provided.

And she converted 131% more subscribers than Photo Anita.

Red Light, Green Light: + 46%

Internet marketer Eric Graham, aka the “Conversion Doctor,” wanted to design the ultimate submit button.

He ran several tests. For his final split, he tested a simple red border around the button against a red border that changed to green when hovered over.

Red Border

Red Border, Green Roll Over

The color-changing border got 46% clicks more than the simple red border.

According to Graham, the button showed that it was clickable by reacting to the mouse. When the red outline turned green, he theorized, viewers interpreted the change as a “stop” signal changing to “go” – so they did.

Your Design Changes: + ?%

Granted, you have a different audience than SBT and the Conversion Doctor, and a different site. You could make the exact same changes and probably not get the same results.

But there are plenty of things you can test that could turn up results that are just as significant. Try:

A signature photo. The age of the Internet has brought with it an added layer of caution. Hesitating before signing up for anything online is standard – and smart.

Displaying your picture on or near your sign-up form suggests that you’re trustworthy. It indicates that you have nothing to hide.

A photo may not always fit the bill, though, in other ways. It could distract from your content. It might clutter the page. And it might not fit the tone of your campaign.

The colors on your form. You’ll probably want colors that harmonize with your site, whether they blend in or stand out, but you may be surprised what effect each color has.

The size of your form. Obviously, the bigger the form is, the more attention it will attract. But what is all that space filled with?

If it’s fields to fill in, prospects might tire and quit partway through. If it’s empty space, you may be giving off the impression that your emails lack value.

Could your form benefit from being bigger, or would it run into one of these problems?

Images. An image can draw attention to your form, especially if it evokes something viewers are interested in. It can also shift viewers into a state of mind where they’re more likely to sign up.

On the other hand, if the image attracts too much attention, it could distract from the actual invitation to sign up.

Are you using an image on your form? Should you be?

Submit button design. The button to complete sign-up should be prominent in color and size. Otherwise, site visitors could glance over the form without noticing there is an action to be taken.

But go too large or too bright, and you could come across as obnoxious. Some audiences appreciate loud and clear instructions. Others prefer polite invitations.

Which category do your site visitors fall into? Change your button’s design, and find out!

Have You Tested Your Form?

Have you ever run a split test on your web form?

If not, what are you waiting for? What could you test today?

If you have, what did you find out? We’d love to hear your story!

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