Have you put enough thought into the colour of your email CTA buttons?

“Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.”  – Wassily Kandinsky

It might seem like a minor consideration, but according to… well, science, designing the perfect email CTA buttons can have a huge impact on your conversion rates.

Read on to learn about:

  • How each colour of the rainbow is associated with different emotions and ideas
  • How to contrast colour effectively
  • Staying on brand

Let’s dive in.

Before we start, it’s important to bear in mind that responses to colour are often subjective and culturally charged. 

For example, clean white lines might seem peaceful and elegant in Europe but funereal in much of Asia. Red is associated with weddings and good luck in India and China but often used as a shorthand for passion or even bad behaviour in the West. Thanks to some pretty persistent 21st-century marketing, we’ve been conditioned to associate pink with girls and blue with boys, etc.

You see what I’m saying. It’s worth taking colour theory with a pinch of salt and a whole lot of cultural context. 

At the same time, there are certain colour combinations that are shown time and again to work better than others when used for email CTAs and buttons. In this article, we’ll take a look at what they are – and why they work.

Email CTA Buttons: Colour Associations

Let’s take a look at some tried-and-tested colour choices favoured by designers and the thought process behind them.


Red is typically associated with energy, vitality, strength and excitement. It’s also used to project warmth. A little splash of it can be very effective, especially for email CTA buttons, and particularly if your general palette is muted. It draws the eye and suggests urgency.


Orange is another warm and aggressive colour that jumps out against more neutral colours and shows up particularly well against blue and green (it’s the opposite side of the colour wheel, after all). It’s an extremely popular colour for buttons because it stands out without carrying the ‘warning’ or ‘stop sign’ associations that sometimes come with red.


Yellow is viewed as youthful and optimistic, which is a good option for a header. Bear in mind, though, that you really need to contrast it against dark headers or deep blues to make it pop. Layered on white, it can fade into the background and fail to grab attention (as you can see in the heading for this section).


On one hand, green conjures up images of nature, health and environmentally-friendly causes. On the other, in the US at least, it’s the colour of money. Go figure. Either way, the brain likes green – it’s easy to process and conveys a sense of balance. Just be careful about using it sparingly for your email CTA buttons.


This is a colour that is regularly used to project trustworthiness, dependability and calm. It’s not too aggressive or pushy and is thought of as an “intellectual” sort of colour, so it’s great for softer persuasion rather than the hard sell.


A gentle colour, purple is typically used to suggest luxury or spirituality – either way, a kind of peaceful, calming effect rather than a get-up-and-go kind of colour. Not an obvious choice for an email CTA button then, but it really depends on what you’re calling on your readers to do. If it’s indulging or unwind, that can work. Consider offsetting it against grey or green.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, much of the decision boils down to how you contrast your call to action buttons against other colours on your site, landing page, email or whatever content you’re embedding it in.

Think carefully about how the colours work together and whether this fits with your brand identity. It’s important that the call to action buttons do not blend in. The whole point is that it stands out; but it shouldn’t clash horribly, either. We’ve found this interactive colour wheel for you to experiment with complimentary colours.

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