Email is one of the oldest digital marketing tools in the book, and it works.
To this day, you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than from a tweet.
That said, it’s a ridiculously competitive market. According to Ascend 2, 54% of marketers say increasing email engagement rate is their top email priority.
So there’s always room for improvement when your marketing email is just one of many in a crowded inbox.
If you want to make the most of your email marketing strategy to drive engagement and revenue, follow these 16 tips to increase your email click through rate.
1. Use personalization
Whenever possible you should use personalization to make your emails more relevant to each subscriber.
Many studies have shown the impact that personalization has on engagement. One by Aberdeen found that personalized email messages improve click through rates by 14% on average, and conversions by 10%.
This can be something as simple as including their name in the subject line, but it doesn’t end there. Agoda hotels, for example, send out deals to their subscribers based on places they’ve actually visited before:
What can you do to talk directly to each of your subscribers more personally?
2. Avoid spam triggers
It doesn’t matter how well you write your marketing emails to entice clicks, if they end up in the spam folder.
Make sure you follow best practice for what to include, and what to leave out, so you don’t slip through the cracks.
- A physical address for your business
- An option for subscribers to opt-out of your emails
- A personalized message
- Spammy or salesy copy and trigger words
- Too many images
- Too many hyperlinks
Here’s an example of the kind of salesy email copy that could land you in the spam folder:
3. Split test everything
You’d be surprised at how even the smallest elements can have a huge impact on your email click through rate.
Luckily, you can use your email marketing software to A/B test all the factors that impact your email’s success, such as:
- Subject lines
- Visual elements
- Buttons vs. text
MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and any other email marketing software worth its name will automate split testing for you:
4. Have one primary call-to-action (CTA)
Your subscribers need to have clear direction if you want them to click (and convert) when reading your emails. Too many CTAs can confuse them, and it’s easier to click “back” than try to figure out where to go.
That’s why you should stick to one primary CTA.
Here’s a nice example from Pocket. Their “Get Your Personal Cloud” CTA appears above the fold and it’s obvious what they want the reader of this email to do.
5. Use descriptive links
You might feel compelled to use “CLICK HERE” as your link text. Every marketer does from time to time.
But descriptive links will serve a better purpose for your readers. Take a look at these examples:
Which link text is more informative? The second one. And the words “click here” are the only thing in either example that could be omitted.
Using descriptive links also minimize the chance your email readers will click on something they didn’t mean to. By using the context of your writing, every reader will click on a link that takes them to what they expected to find.
6. Use social buttons
Many marketers make the mistake of creating their email marketing strategy in isolation. But the best strategies work together with content marketing, social media marketing and more, to nurture leads and encourage engagement.
So don’t forget to include social sharing and social connect buttons in your emails! Your email marketing software can do this easily for you.
Why does including social buttons increase email click through rates?
Your social profiles build trust, and if you provide consistent value across all of these platforms then your audience will be more inclined to open, and click your emails. Plus, if your primary CTA isn’t what your reader is looking for in that moment, they still have an opportunity to click on something within the email and continue the conversation with your business.
7. Use social proof
People prioritize the opinions of others (peers, family, other internet users), over what brands have to say about themselves. That’s why you need to include social proof as part of your email campaigns.
Social proof can be:
- Customer testimonials
- Product reviews
- Press mentions
- Proof of social clout such as follower numbers
Here’s a simple example of social proof from InVision:
8. Invoke curiosity
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have your audience’s undivided attention when they check their email.
According to Adobe research, Americans outside of work most commonly check their email while:
- Watching TV (70%)
- From bed (52%)
- On vacation (50%)
- While on the phone (43%)
- From the bathroom (42%)
- While driving (18%!)
So if you’re going to capture their attention (hopefully not while driving), your message must invoke curiosity. Here’s an example of an email headline that does that:
Instead of simply plugging their marketing report, AdRoll asked a question to encourage curiosity and clicks.
9. Have a compelling offer
2.4 million emails are sent every second. Yep, you read that right. Every second.
Email inboxes are more stuffed than ever, so you have to have a truly compelling offer if you want your email to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Agoda’s newsletters are always full of enticing offers for people who travel frequently. Here’s an example of a coupon they sent out to get half price hotel deals:
Think of something truly surprising that you can offer your audience that will encourage them to click.
10. Use freebies
No matter how great your products and services are, some people will never click through unless they feel like they’re getting a deal. That’s why it’s your job to deliver some kind of savings with your offer.
Here are some great examples of freebies or discounts that TripAdvisor use to encourage clicks:
Apart from straight product-related offers, you can give away content as freebies. Ebooks, checklists, live training sessions – all of these things are compelling reasons for your subscribers to click your emails, and each of them build trust for your brand.
11. Remove distractions
Did you know that the more images an email has, the lower the click through rate on average? That’s right – all your efforts to make your email engaging and compelling just leads to distraction.
So remove distractions and keep your design simple to encourage email click throughs. Neil Patel is the king of simple emails:
12. Leverage the PS
Addressing someone by name isn’t the only way to make a marketing message personal.
Leverage the PS section at the end of the email and you’ll be surprised at the results. Believe it or not, the PS is one of the most read sections of an email.
The PS is an opportunity to reiterate your call-to-action or focus on other benefits of your products and services. Here’s an example of great use of the PS from Marcus Sheridan’s marketing emails:
13. Create urgency
Even if someone’s interested in your marketing message, they still might navigate away, thinking they can come back and check it out later. Then they get busy and move on with life.
To avoid this issue, make sure your marketing message has a sense of urgency. In most cases, this means a clear deadline for what you have to offer.
Here’s an example from Pear Tree:
Make sure your readers can clearly see when your marketing offer will go away. You can even attract attention by using a countdown timer in your email messages. Wording such as “Act now!” or “Offer ends soon!” will also help.
14. Segment your list
Segmenting your email list is essential if you want to deliver the most relevant marketing message to each of your subscribers. Segmented and targeted emails can generate 58% of all revenue, according to DMA.
There are a lot of ways to segment lists. You can create groups of customers based on questions they fill out on your signup form (age, location, etc.) or based on shopping behavior, for example.
General Assembly offers e-courses in a wide range of subjects, but they don’t market all of them to everyone. Instead, they take into consideration your course interests when you first sign up and send you marketing emails based on that:
15. Use email triggers for campaigns
Trigger emails are automated messages that you send out based on your customer’s behavior on your site.
Most successful marketing campaigns use email triggers. According to Experian, emails triggered by buying behavior have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email. They also generate 6x more revenue.
For example, someone visits your site, adds items to their shopping cart, then navigates away without completing the purchase. You send out a triggered email reminding them of their abandoned shopping cart.
Another interesting example of a triggered campaign comes from Buffer. They use triggered campaigns to encourage users of their software to re-engage:
You can set up automated triggers with just about any mainstream email marketing software.
16. Include media
Did you know that one out of every three clicks within an email occurs on a mobile device? Emails developed with mobile in mind are often the most engaging. And the kind of media that works best on small screens is visuals or video.
Bigstock are one business who use visuals in a really smart way in their emails to encourage clicks. Check out the example below that jumps off the page and emphasizes the main CTA:
A successful marketing email has a lot of important elements.
You need social proof, a clear CTA, a personalized message, and more.
Remember these 16 tips to power up your email marketing strategy and improve your email click through rate today.
What tactics have you used to increase click throughs in your emails?
Very insightful Will. I will certainly be taking these tips to practice and also to our clients.. You can never have a high enough click through rate!
One thing we have noticed with our clients and their EDMs is at times they get caught in SPAM, even with basic subject lines and content (such as Step 2). Ensuring you have SPF txt records added to your domain’s DNS will increase your chance of hitting someone’s inbox. Not all web hosts provide this as standard during setup – so it is worth a look if all else fails.
Great stuff Will, loving these posts. Always great value provided!
Awesome tip… thanks for sharing. There are so many hidden SPAM triggers that the average marketer wouldn’t know the first thing about, which is why having devs on your side is super-important!
Great idea Will focusing on engaging emails as addressing a burning problem.
I’ve made a note to personalize my emails.
Other suggestions include conversational subjects, intriguing questions in lieu of CTAs for variety, series of emails with anticipation hints, writing a story in your emails.
Thanks for those helpful bonus tips for everyone!
Take it easy.
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Very practical approach and helpful the way you represent posts, The information you have posted is very useful. Keep going on, good stuff.