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Five Tips to Increase Your Email Click-Through Rates

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Email marketing is the perfect tool to grow your website traffic or boost your Web shop's conversion rates. But to do so, recipients first have to click the hyperlinks you included in your email.

So here are five tips to help you increase your email's click-through rates.

1. Ensure your emails are opened

Admittedly, this sounds obvious, but it isn't as easy as it seems. Just because your email is delivered to your recipient's inbox doesn't mean the recipient will open your email. There are many ways to increase the open rates of your emails. Here are the most important ones:

  • Increasing your open rates starts with gathering relevant opt-ins. What is someone signing up for? Make it obvious from the start. What kind of information can he expect? How many times will he receive your emails? You might scare off some opt-ins this way, but that's no loss. You'd rather have one opt-in who reads your newsletter, than 10 who discard it without even opening it.
  • Identify yourself: Make it perfectly clear for the recipient who the sender is. Use your name, your company name or both.
  • Write an appealing subject line: A well-written subject line invites the recipient to open the mail. Be sure to stick to a maximum of 50 characters (20 if you have a lot of mobile readers) to prevent it from being cut off in most email clients.
  • Compose a strong snippet or pre-header: This is the first text that's displayed underneath or next to the subject line. Often the snippet contains text like "Unable to read this mail? Open the web version." You can do better.

2. Stick to one clear call to action

"Create an account now!" "Buy product X!" Having multiple calls to action (CTAs) only makes it confusing for your recipients. Determine what the main goal of your email is, and make sure your call to action serves that goal, and that goal only.

Also, a CTA should make clear for the reader…

  • What is expected of him
  • Where the CTA will take him
  • Why he has to go there

The best CTAs answer those three questions, using as few words as possible:

  • Contact us.
  • Apply now.
  • Sign up now.
  • Create an account.

And so on...

Avoid CTAs that state the obvious. The internet has been around long enough even for the biggest technophobes to understand that they have to click on a hyperlink to make it work. In other words, don't use "click here."

3. Create mobile-proof emails

In 2012, the amount of mobile online traffic was 12 times the size of total Internet traffic in 2000. And mobile data traffic is still skyrocketing. But while more and more companies prepare their websites for mobile visitors, only few of them do the same with their emails.

In the meanwhile, according to Litmus research, 38% of all emails are opened on a mobile device. That makes mobile phones the most popular medium for reading emails.

Not preparing your emails for mobile is a mistake you can't allow yourself to make. Create your email templates using responsive design, which will adjust the email to, for example, screen size used or the orientation of your screen (in the case of smart phones, which you can hold horizontally or vertically).

Also, keep in mind that mobile users click using their fingers instead of a mouse. Make sure all your calls to action are large enough and your hyperlinks have enough space between them. Tip: a finger takes up, on average, about 44x44 pixels on a mobile screen.

4. Be relevant

Your database is one of the most powerful assets you have to increase the number of clicks in your emails. Using the information in your database, you can send your recipients relevant emails that fit their needs.

The most efficient form of email relevancy based on the data in your database is event-driven email marketing. For example, you send emails based on someone's interests, products someone purchases or didn't purchase. Abandoned shopping carts, for example, are known to increase click-through rates 20%.

5. Test and measure

Not every target group is the same. That's why you should use the previous four tips merely to get started. From there, the best way to improve your open rate is by testing various strategies and to keep measuring the results.

Test emails with split-run and A/B tests, including different send times and different subject lines. Keep tweaking and molding until you find the right format and the click-through rate you're aiming for.

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Michael Linthorst is an Internet entrepreneur and CEO of Copernica Marketing Software. He also blogs on email marketing and e-commerce, among other subjects.

LinkedIn: Michael Linthorst

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  • by Ann Daniel Tue Oct 8, 2013 via web

    Thank you for sharing this great Post, I think that Click through rate ( CTR ) is the most effective tool to measure your online advertising campaign success, Since it can be used in evaluating how well your keywords and ads are performing, also it is used in e-mail tracking reports.

    Ann Daniel

  • by Ravish Doctor Wed Oct 30, 2013 via web

    Thanks for the excellent article. The 44*44 pixel rule for the finger space is extremely insightful. How often have we received interesting stuff on our mobiles and gave up reading further 'coz we kept clicking on the goddamned link either above / below / to the side of the actual link we intended to click !

    Amazing how little things make a not so little difference between success and failure.

  • by Anupam Bonanthaya Sun Mar 9, 2014 via web

    Michael, nice tips ! increasing number of emails are being opened in mobiles first. therefore you need to keep mobile in mind for any email campaign. what has been your experience on click-through in using testimonial snippets ? do you agree with this -

  • by Phil Benham Sun Feb 7, 2016 via web

    I'm glad that folks are starting to investigate ways to increase email click-through rates. Your points were right on, Michael! I would add that there are several elements within an email that also encourage the click; like buttons for your call-to-action, surveys to encourage a reader to get involved, countdown timers to add a sense of urgency, etc.

    That's why we created - to create, customize, and track those elements proven to increase email click-through rates. I would hope you and your readers find some benefit from it, especially while we're in beta and offering a free trial.

    Phil Benham

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