Secrets to Improving Your Email Click Through Rates


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Clutter – it's an easy way to describe the digital lives of most modern day consumers. From websites with too many advertising banners and featured results to social media platforms with more posts and updates from brands than from friends, and of course, the email inbox, filled to the brim every morning upon waking and topped off throughout the day from the many subscriptions, alerts and promotions that have been consciously or unconsciously opted in to. If this sounds familiar, you’re probably wondering how on earth your email can stand out from the crowd! How do you cut through all of this noise to make your message stand out?  

It’s no secret that one of the greatest challenges many of us marketers now face is grabbing our audience’s attention. We need to rise above the hundreds of other digital distractions and be seen. As if that wasn’t enough, we also need to encourage our readers to follow through on their interest and engage or interact with us after we’ve won their attention.  

Sound tough? It is! Luckily, our secrets to improving your email click through rates are here to save the day. Try them for better, more effective email marketing.

Timing Isn’t Everything, But It’s a Big Something!

Not all online consumers are created equally. The times at which your consumers can give attention to your online activity will vary greatly, not only between your email lists but also between different days of the week and months of the year.  Timing will also be a factor when it comes to the type of actions you’re looking for. Despite the many variants, some general trends and patterns of behavior hold true. Here, we’ve highlighted common personas and their timing sweet spots. Try testing your next email campaign against these profiles.

Weekend Warriors – You value your weekend. We get it. This means you’ll be sending the majority of your marketing emails out during the business week rather than Saturday or Sunday. Maybe you only having staff in the office during the week to prepare the copy, or maybe you’re just a creature of habit. Most of us are. Many email marketers have a schedule they stick to, with certain types of emails going out on certain days of the week. For example, you send an e-newsletter on Tuesday and a promotional offer on a Thursday.

The simple fact is that competition is lower on the weekends. Use this to your advantage and schedule your email campaign to send on the weekend. With less inbox clutter, your campaign has a better chance of standing out. An email benchmark study by Experian backs this theory up, showing that click through rates for emails opened at the weekends are higher on average than those during the week.

Night Owls – A Experian email marketing benchmark study across all industries found that email recipients are surprisingly active in the evenings and late at night. Unique open rates averaged 21.7% from 8 pm to 11:59 pm and 17.6% for the 12 am to 4 am slot. Moreover, this late night group was more likely to click through, with open rates of 4.2% and 3.2%, respectively.

The takeaway? Try testing your email marketing send times with some late evening experimentation. When the many distractions of the day are behind them, consumers appear more likely to take action and help you improve your email open rates and email click through rates.

Think Mobile!

With any marketing campaign knowing your audience is key. This is especially true when you want to improve your email click through rate, as you’ll need insider knowledge of your recipients’ daily habits to plan your communications effectively. Along with knowing when your audience does something, you also need to know how they do it. According to Com Score’s review of 2014 digital consumption, over 90% of 18-25-year-olds and 84% of 26-35-year-olds have a smartphone device. As a result over half of all consumer emails are opened on a mobile device.

Email Click Through Rates-mobile

Image from comSCORE U.S. Mobile App Report

Timing for Mobile – Consumers are most active on their mobile devices at certain times of the day, one of those being mornings. Do you check your phone before you’re even out of bed? It’s a habit shared by many! More specifically, for certain audience groups, the hours surrounding the morning commute deliver a real spike in mobile device usage. Some experts believe that these content snacking habits early in the morning lead to users taking action later on in the day. Often this will see the user searching for products discovered that morning with conversions more likely to take place in the evening.

Regarding improving click through in light of the above, consider both the style and nature of your AM call to actions. This time of the day is ripe for discovery and planting the seed of consideration rather than seeking direct conversions or sales. Click through call to actions should be based on further content. Using retail as an example, your new calls to action might include phrases such as ‘view the top products of the day’ or ‘browse editor’s choices’ rather than a ‘shop the sale now’ button.

Optimizing for Mobile – It sounds like a no-brainer, but given that over half of emails opened and over half of all of web traffic now originate from mobile devices, you must ensure that your email strategy is mobile optimized.

Ensuring that your email template is mobile friendly or responsive in design is an absolute must. Of course, this goes for your email marketing landing pages too. The last thing you want is for you hard earned clicks to be in vain because your audience lands on a non-mobile friendly site and then can’t see half the content.

Keeping email templates and content simple where possible is always a winning strategy when optimizing for mobile.  A template that is too complex can make content hard to absorb and call to actions less clear and prominent. Remember the screen size, keep content brief and to the point and have faith. If your audience is interested, they will click through. If you’re struggling, an easy win is to call on your company’s social media team. Social media professionals, particularly those who work with Twitter, are usually well suited to writing for email as they are used to getting an audience’s attention within a limited set of characters.

Remember the vast majority of smartphones are touch screen enabled. Call to actions and click through buttons need to be bold and appropriately sized. If your content has an accompanying image make sure the image itself clicks through to the appropriate landing page so users can easily stick their thumb on it!


Making It More Appealing

Sometimes the answer to increasing your email open rates is as simple as ensuring you’re sending out email campaigns that genuinely appeal to your recipients. All the timing and optimization techniques in the world can’t make your content appealing, but YOU can. Use these tips in conjunction with the strategies above to create the best email campaign possible.

Tailored Emails Lists Segments are so important in modern day marketing. Cut your email lists down where possible using the acquisition data at your disposal. Make your content relevant to each group as it possibly can be and tailor your CTAs where appropriate based on these list segments.

Make it Personal – You can further refine your segments and email lists by including elements of email personalization. Part of effective lead nurturing is knowing about your prospect’s and customer’s purchase history. Use any data available from your CRM system to provide killer subject lines, content, offers, promotions, and follow-up actions based on the user’s actual activity with you.

Appeal to Your Audience’s Ego –It’s a universal truth that we are all inherently designed to cater to ourselves and are naturally self-centered. As a result, we are fundamentally more likely to act on something that invokes a self-centered benefit to us. Most marketers overlook this when communicating with their readers and address the audience as a whole. Use their mistake to further your cause. Remember that opening an email that has been sent directly to you is a very direct and personal experience. Messages are consumed by an individual and not by a blanket group.

The guys at Content Verve have a great case study example for this:

Email Click Through Rates

In this example, a simple change to the CTA swapping in “your” for “my” increased the CTR by almost twice the previous metric. This was achieved by creating a more intrinsic sense of ownership for the reader.

Try making a similar basic change to your own CTA. For example, a simple change from something like ‘Create a free account’ to ‘Create my free account’ could make a big difference.

Try Numbered Lists – Numbered lists are an easy way for readers to digest information, which increases the likelihood of them opening your emails or clicking through to discover more content. Numbered lists also give an idea of how much content your email contains, allowing the recipient to make a decision about whether or not they have time to read it. You can also make them odd numbered lists to make your lists stand out even more.

Make a chart style rating list or an editor’s choice, and voila! You have an almost auto generated and totally enticing subject line.

Here’s an excellent example courtesy of the weekly newsletter from

Email Click Through Rates

Our last tip – use big, impactful and clickable images are associated with numbered lists for further content. The easy to digest content appears in a non-cluttered format, and the overall design is well optimized for mobile. It’s all tied up with a simple call to actions.  

There you have it…our secrets to improving your click through rates. Try them out and let us know how you do.


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