High open rates can make you feel good but you should be much more concerned about high click rates.
The reason? Simple, clicks translate more closely to real business objectives and revenue. In fact analysis of 196 campaigns showed an increase in email open rate results in more business only half of the time.
The Epsilon long term trend shows dropping click rates. The chart below includes data from 7.8 billion emails in just the last reported quarter (source MarketingCharts.com)
It would be easy to believe the increasing open rates are down to genuine higher customer engagement. However, a major reason for the increasing open rates is the increasing number of email clients that show images by default, thus causing an open to be tracked. Smartphone clients such as iOS show images by default and since early 2014 Gmail turned on images on by default.
This means the increased open rate trend is driven by improving open reporting accuracy rather than just more emails being read.
The click rate trend is however clear and not obscured by skews due to email client changes. The long term trend is down, so here’s how five brands reversed the trend and obtained strong click rates.
UnHaggle focus on customer benefit increases click rate by 378%
It did fine but UnHaggle tried a totally different concept and the difference was profound, an increase in click through rate of 378%.
The email on the left is the initial email that followed the case study formula and on the right a re-imagined email that worked even better.
Why it worked
Getting a substantially different response needs a substantially different approach. Big changes in clicks are most likely to come from different concepts rather than variations on a theme. Which is one reason why the commonly held belief about testing only one thing at a time is wrong, do this instead.
The better concept has several key elements that drove the improved response, consider these factors:
- Pictures of products were added. When you’ve physical products, show photos. Nothing grabs attention quite like a photo of the very item the reader is looking for.
- Focus on the primary benefit sought by the customer, in this case savings on cars not a free report.
- Keep it short. Here short means fast to read and understand. In pixel terms the email with photos is longer, but the amount of information to consume and text to read is much less.
- Provide the right offer for the point in the customer lifecycle. Perhaps the original email was too early in the lifecycle to be pushing the free report. It may be the right offer for some customers, just not those in this segment.
- Don’t blindly replicate a case study, understand and learn from it, but do what’s right for your audience. There is no one best email.
Subject Line Personalization Increased click rate by 19% for Expedia
Just adding the first name to the subject line can provide a click uplift. Take this example from Expedia with results from a subject line split test.
- A: Set Sail and Save
- B: Dave, Set Sail and Save
As you might expect the open rate increased by 17% but more importantly the increased opens also resulted in 19% more clicks. All due to a bit of simple subject line personalization. For more subject line split test inspiration and results check this list of 9 subject line A/B tests.
Wondering if this is a one off result for Expedia? I’ve seen subject line personalization work time after time. PadiAct also saw clicks soar 17.36% by using subject line personalization, in this case study from MarketingSherpa.
It doesn’t have to be the name either, consider what other data you have you can use for subject line personalization.
Personalized Product Recommendations Increase click rate by 175%
Using Barilliance product personalization EyeBuyDirect.com was able to increase click rates by 175%. The products included in the email body are automatically picked based on a combination of browsing history, past purchases and other engagement metrics.
EyeBuyDirect.com had already seen improvements in conversion by adding personalization to their website, so adding this into emails was a natural step for them.
Video gives Ragan Communications average 89% click rate uplift
In a case study shared by MarketingSherpa Ragan Communications added video to their emails and almost doubled click rates.
They included a still image of the video with overlaid play icon and a quick overview of what it was about. When a user clicked through, they landed on a page where they could play the video instantly.
As you might expect, open rate wasn’t impacted, but click rate really improved by an average of 89% over the other types of email Ragan use. Video was just right for Ragan’s audience, they found the idea of video to be engaging and the teaser approach got them to the landing page.
Regan purposely kept the text in the email short with the aim of getting customers to the landing page and having more detailed information there.
When using this approach, ensure you pick the right still frame image, check the tips at the end of this article on video in email for how to choose a still frame.
Highly Targeted Content Gives Buyometric a 7% click rate.
Buyometric achieves a benchmark beating 7% click through rate on their daily deal emails.
A user experience focused signup process collects preferences for dislikes. Seems odd? It turns out that people are often much clearer about what they definitely don’t want than things they might or do want.
So removing totally inappropriate offers turns out to be more powerful than only trying to include definite hits.
The excellent user experience ditches the traditional form with lots of text and tick boxes to complete instead using a simple and satisfying process of clicking on pictures of dislikes, marking the image with a big red cross.
This optional preferences step is completed by a remarkable 78% of new subscribers.
Buyometric continue to improve content targeting by capturing and analyzing click behaviour. As each customer is more closely understood the behaviour algorithm takes over from the initial signup preferences.
What you can do
I hope these examples can help you create your own strategy to increase you email click rates. Just to recap the lessons from the five brands featured:
- Use personalization in the subject line
- Align content to the buying stage of the customer
- Focus on benefits sought by subscribers
- Keep emails short and easy to scan read
- Use behaviour to target content
You can find the above examples and six further case studies in a great article by David Arrington.