You’ve probably heard the advice that every single email you send should include a clear call to action for the recipient. It makes sense—if there’s nothing you need them to actually do with that email, should you really be sending it?
However, being explicit about what you need can also feel a little counterintuitive. We don’t want to seem like steamrollers, so we send messages that are so politely vague, they end up being completely unclear. The recipient gets all the way to the end and thinks, “Uhhh, OK… Now what?”
Guilty as charged? You aren’t alone—which is why I’ve pulled together these simple call-to-action templates that you can copy, paste, and use in your own emails.
Some Call to Action Do’s and Don’ts
Before we get to the templates, let’s cover a few best practices you should keep in mind when using calls to action in your emails.
This first one you could probably see coming: Don’t be too general. Get specific about exactly what you need from that other person.
Sending an email with an 80-page report attached and a blanket request like, “Hey, can you look at this?” will only overwhelm your recipient—which means you probably aren’t going to get a response.
Instead, asking something like, “Could you take a look at pages 18-24 and let me know if you have any changes by Wednesday?” provides clear and helpful direction.
Next, do include a deadline with your call to action. I get it—that makes you feel pushy. But, you probably know how irritating it is when somebody sends you something to do with no indication of when they need it by. Eliminate any confusion right off the bat by making your timeline clear.
Finally, don’t forget to say “thank you” right after your call to action. Yes, you can be straightforward and gracious at the same time, and doing so will also help to ease any of your own nerves about being so upfront about what you need.
Got it? Great! Let’s get into the calls to action you can copy and paste in some common email scenarios.
Call to Action #1 When You Need a Question Answered
The Template: Can you let me know [your question]? I need an answer by [deadline] in order to [reason/result]. Thanks!
The Example: Can you let me know if the client has responded with feedback yet? I need an answer by Friday in order to wrap up this deal. Thanks!
Call to Action #2 When You Need Feedback on Something
The Template: Please pass along your feedback on [what you need feedback on] via [where they should provide their feedback] no later than [deadline]. Thanks so much!
The Example: Please pass along your feedback on slides 10-20 of this presentation using the Google Doc I linked to in this email no later than close of business on November 30. Thanks so much!
Call to Action #3 When You Need to Confirm a Meeting
The Template: Can we meet on [date] at [time] to discuss [topic]? Please let me know by [date] if that works for you. Thank you!
The Example: Can we meet on Thursday at 10 AM to discuss the website redesign? Please let me know by tomorrow if that works for you. Thank you!
Call to Action #4 When You’re Sending Along an Update or Resource
The Template: Please review [what you’re sending] before [date or event] and feel free to get in touch with me directly with any questions. Thanks so much!
The Example: Please review the attached report highlighting this month’s traffic numbers before our team meeting and feel free to get in touch with me directly with any questions. Thanks so much!
Call to Action #5 When You Just Need a Response
The Template: Please reply to this email with [what you need] by [date]. If I don’t hear from you by then, I will [what you’ll do]. Thanks!
The Example: Please reply to this email with your RSVP by Tuesday. If I don’t hear from you by then, I will assume you’re not attending the luncheon. Thanks!
I know how weird it can seem to be so explicit about what you need in your email. But, seriously, don’t panic.
Remember that this level of clarity is actually helping the recipient. You’re saving them the steps and added work of having to track down what you need them to do. And even though it feels overly assertive, I promise that most people are going to appreciate (and maybe even learn from!) the fact that you’re being so direct and transparent.
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Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author