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Direct marketers invest a lot of time, effort and response testing on producing effective calls-to-action (CTA), as they know better CTA’s will increase sales.  Internal marketers can benefit from these lessons – if you want higher response rates to your employee email broadcasts, you need to write CTAs which inspire employees to take action.  Here’s how.

Begin with the objective. The process of writing a CTA for an internal email campaign looks similar to writing an marketing CTA: Start by defining your goal.

Do you want to recruit volunteers for a company outing? Encourage open enrollment participation? Or motivate employees to read a story or participate in a survey? Whatever your desired outcome, a “click here” button is most likly not the best answer. A better written, creatively crafted CTA will immediately make your email more actionable.

Define the key steps.

Reaching your objectives is usually a multi-step process. Rather than try to get people to immediately reach for the end-goal, it’s better to offer one step at a time.  To map out the steps, think through what information people will need to make a decision, group them into sets, and then draw a box around each and connect them with the likely if-then-else paths they may take.  

Ideally you will see one short, straight path through, and some path off to the side which route back to the goal.  For say, open enrollment, you might break each benefit selection and forms down into a series of steps, say one for health insurance, one for dental, and another for flex-spending plans or perhaps child-care options.  Getting all of those completed by the deadline is your goal. So create a series of calls to action for each, separately, with paths to follow for more information such as employee success stories or summary explanations of health insurance program options.  You can even define reminders (only 3 days left) and feedback (80% of employees like you have already completed this step). This is the outline for your campaign.

Write more targeted, personalized CTAs. Use the goal for each step to inform your messaging and create a specific CTA for each. In a study analyzing 330,000 CTAs, personalized CTAS performed 202% better than basic CTAs. Readers may mindlessly skim over cookie-cutter CTAs like ‘Click Here’ or ‘Read More.’ Better to write “Attend a Benefits Info Session this Wednesday at noon” which is hyperlinked to form and which puts an item on their calendar.   If the objective were to inspire healthy work competition, include a “Which team will you join?” button. Even better if you segment your audience into broad groups, and write CTA’s which are more likely to appeal to that group. Certainly what you say to motivate a sales team member would be different than what you would say to an engineer.  Sure it’s a little more work, but if your objective is to increase response , the question is how much effort is up to a 200% increase in response worth?

Send less, more often.

It would be easy to put all the information required into one long email with lots of links, send it, and call it done, but your employees won’t appreciate it and will be less likely to respond.  You can take the same content, and break it down into short, separate email message, each again focused on the next step in the process to your goal. Short messages each easier to digest and process, and by sending those more often, the content is less likely to get buried in the inbox, and recipients are more likely to take action.

Ask just one thing.

The data prove if you want someone to click something, include just one link in your content. Shorter email messages with one action item perform better and produce the highest click-through rates. Ensure the link is displayed near the top of your email and use a different color or larger font to or an icon to distinguish the action item.  Put your personalized, targeted, creative CTA inside the button, and what your response rates go up!In addition to inspiring employees to take action, CTAs give internal comms teams another way to track engagement over time. By measuring click-through-rates, you can experiment with different options, and use the data to understand what works for your groups of employees. These insights into employee behavior and the words drive actions enable you make better data-driven decisions to improve messaging engagement in the future.