How to Improve Your Email Click Rates

Illustration by Sim Kaart Illustration of plants

When you’re investing so much time into your email marketing campaigns, you want to know your content is engaging. And one of the best ways to track engagement is monitoring your click-through rates (CTR).

In Ascend2s state of email marketing report, 49% of respondents said improving click-through rates was the most important objective of their email marketing strategy.

Ascend2 marketing report.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what constitutes a good click-through rate and give you some solid strategies to help you improve upon them.

What Type of Email Click-Through Rates Should I be Getting?

Here at MailPoet, we separate click-through rates into three categories:

  • Bad. A bad click-through rate would be anything under 1%. Meaning your subscribers really aren’t engaging with your email content.
  • Good. A good click-through rate would be anything between 1-3%. 3% or just under is around the average rate for most industries.
  • Excellent. Anything above 3% is an excellent click-through rate, means you’re exceeding most industry averages, and your audience is connecting with your content.

In the MailPoet admin you’ll see “BAD,” “GOOD,” and “EXCELLENT” badges to let you know how you’re doing.

Subject line example.

As you can see in the image above, the campaign received a “good” click-through rate of 2.7%.

But what can you do if your click-through rates are lagging behind, or are even on a downward trajectory?

7 Ways to Improve Your Email Click-Through Rates

Improving your click-through rates might seem like you’ve been given a mountain to climb, but no matter your level of expertise it can be done. Here are our top 10 ways to improve your email click-through rates.

1. Make Your Subject Line Stand Out

Did you know that 69% of subscribers report an email as spam based solely on the subject line? You want to make your subject line sing!

Want more great subject line tips? You’re in luck! We’ve written extensively about subject lines on our blog.

2. Improve Your Email Formatting

How your emails look is vital to improving your click-through rate. A well-designed email that is correctly formatted for different devices and email clients will not only look great, but render properly for your subscribers. After all, if your email renders incorrectly and appears broken on some devices, chances are no one is going to click-through.

Design for Mobiles

Smartphones now account for 55% of all email opens making mobile the most popular way to view emails.

It’s even more apparent how important responsiveness design for a variety of devices is when you consider 53% of millennials unsubscribe to emails that don’t work on their smartphones.

Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly can look broken across a range of email clients. In fact, according to a Litmus study, 80% of recipients deleted emails that didn’t look good on mobile.

You’ve also got to keep in mind that a broken design is akin to a bad design, which doesn’t reflect well on your when you’re trying to make a good impression—it can be damaging for your reputation.

Here at MailPoet, all our email templates are responsive out-the-box and we’re regularly introducing new responsive templates.

Here’s one of our favorite recent additions:

Pets template in MailPoet.

Headings and Subheadings

Despite the fact email marketing experts Litmus have found attention spans actually increase when reading email, 55% of people still tend to skim-read an email in 2-8 seconds.

Using proper headings and subheadings in your emails ensures that anyone who skim-reads your content will quickly and easily find what they are looking for and click-through. Plus, it’s much easier on the eye!

Don’t Rely on Images

Here are MailPoet, we see this all the time: a user creates a stunning image that links out to a page, post or product, and yet most people may never even see the image in the first place.

Why? Because popular email clients like Gmail, Outlook, Orange.fr and more often block images by default. Meaning, if your link is hidden in an image your click-through rates are going to tumble.

Instead, make use of buttons and clickable text. This way, you can ensure your links are seen every time.

3. Use Personalization to Increase Engagement

Jill LeMaire Redo, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Insights at Epsilon, predicted in Litmus’s Email Marketing in 2020 report:

“…that by 2020, hyper-personalization in marketing will reach a significant level.”

And we believe she’s onto something. We’ve seen first-hand how personalization can increase open rates, and those same methods can be applied to the content within your newsletters.

Google has mastered email personalization, like the example below shows. It features content that caters specifically to the recipient, including local weather and travel information.

Google trips example email.

While Google’s email is quite advanced as far as personalization goes, you too can incorporate personalization into your email newsletters.

You could capture relevant information from your subscribers, such as their first name and last name, when they sign-up. Then, you can insert this information into your emails using shortcode.

Example of email personlization shortcodes.

The result is a personalized email that pulls in the relevant subscriber information:

Example of executed shortcodes for email personalization.

With MailPoet, you can even create your own custom fields to collect subscriber information for even more personalization in what you send. For more on how to personalize your newsletters, check out our docs.

4. Ensure Your Emails Reach the Inbox

If you’re getting a high number of bounces and low click rates, it’s time to improve your sending reputation. There are two primary ways you can do this: by fostering trust and sending with a professional email service.

Foster Trust

If you’re looking to build a relationship with your subscriber, the last thing you should do is actively lie. Yet Litmus found that 51% of consumers reported a brand’s marketing campaign as spam why they didn’t knowingly sign-up to receive an email.

People don’t like being tricked so if you try to force your way into their inbox, they’re simply going to unsubscribe.

What can you do to solve this? Here are a few simple tips:

  • Use clear and communicative language on your sign-up form.
  • Don’t knowingly oversell your value proposition. For example, offering a free eBook that is advertised for $30 and then the subscriber discovers it was never sold at that price.
  • Use double opt-ins to ensure the subscriber intended to sign up.
  • Use a clear “from” name and “from” email address so recipients know who your emails are from.

Send With a Professional Service

ReturnPath research has found that 1 in 5 commercial emails fails to reach its intended target. Why? Because some businesses and brands have a poor sending reputation.

How does this happen? Many businesses send emails through their hosting company, which just isn’t set up to deal with sending email campaigns to large numbers of subscribers.

You also have to consider that everyone on your server is using the same IP address, so it all takes is one bad apple to ruin the sending reputation for everyone.

Using a professional sending service such as MailPoet, which boasts a 97.5% deliverability rate, ensures you can maintain maximum deliverability for your emails, improving your chances of higher click-through rates.

Professional sending services which have dedicated email infrastructure, are purpose-built for email with a range of specialist monitoring tools and bounce handling features to ensure emails are delivered on time, every time.

5. Make Your Call-to-Action (CTA) Clear

If you’re click-through rates are low, it’s also a good idea to look at what you’re actually asking subscribers to click. This means taking a good, hard look at your call-to-action.

Email industry experts Litmus ran a series of A/B testing campaigns and found optimizing the language used in CTAs can lead to a 124% increase in click-throughs.

Video game developers Bungie have perfected the art of the simple CTA in this announcement newsletter with a clear CTA encouraging subscribers to watch their trailer and learn more.

Example of Ubisoft email with clear CTA's.

Ultimately, it comes down to leveraging psychology and telling the subscriber the action you want them to take. A simple “Learn More” is a less than imposing CTA compared to “Buy Now” or “Sign Up,” both of which imply the user has to part with money.

One of the worst things you can do is overload the user with options. Our top tip is to use just one CTA in your email. So think clearly about the overall goal of your campaign and the action you want subscribers to take when they open your email. Industry experts HubSpot also recommend keeping CTAs to a minimum.

6. Segment Your Subscribers

Email subscribers are 75% more likely to click on a segmented campaign versus a non-segmented campaign and it makes sense.

Segmenting your subscribers allows you to target their specific interests rather than sending a generic email that may not appeal to your entire list. According to Econsultancy, 78% of marketers are already using basic segmentation.

With MailPoet, you can use our segmentation functionality to target those who have purchased specific products or opened specific newsletters to better cater to your audience’s interests, in turn improving your click-through rates.

7. Send Less Frequently

It might seem counterintuitive to send fewer emails in order to increase your click-through rates. But sending too often actually increases subscriber fatigue, causes read rates to plummet, and email complaints to rise.

ReturnPath research backs this up. Their study on sending frequency and engagement found subscribers tolerate about five emails per week from a given sender. Beyond that, the ensuing complaints increase dramatically, and read rates drop significantly.

The best thing you can do is experiment and find out what works best for your subscribers:

  • Test various sending frequencies and monitor your stats closely to find out what suits your list best. Email isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing.
  • Give your users the option of subscribing to different lists. For example, you could have a list you send news and updates to once-a-day and another list you only send to once-a-week.

How Can I Track My Click-Through Rates?

It’s not good trying to improve your click through rates if you can’t or aren’t tracking them. The free version of MailPoet tracks your click rates for you within 24 hours of a campaign being sent clicks will start displaying.

There’s even more though when you use MailPoet Premium with more advanced in-depth statistics including clicks per newsletter plus you can even create campaign tags and track with Google Analytics.

With MailPoet Premium installed you inspect the statistics of each newsletters getting a breakdown of every link and how many clicks it received.

MailPoet stats for welcome email.

Along with advanced engagement statistics for each subscriber.

Example of subscriber engagement in a MailPoet newsletter.

Wrapping Up

Click-through rates are a crucial metric to track. They indicate how successful your email campaigns are, and without them, you’d be left in the dark about the success or otherwise of your newsletters.

Improving your click-through rates is no easy task, though. But you can help improve your overall click-through rates by following the tips and tricks in this post. Plus, by understanding more about what your subscribers click on, you can create targeted content that captivates, and hopefully converts.

Have you worked on improving your click through rates recently? Perhaps there’s a great tip you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.