13 Ways to Boost Your Marketing Email Click-Through Rate

Are you worried that your email marketing strategy isn’t working? If your email click-through rate (CTR) stats are underwhelming, you’re probably right. Let’s face it; if subscribers aren’t clicking your links, that means fewer leads and sales, which will affect your income.

That’s why it’s essential to make more subscribers want to click. By the end of this guide, you’ll know some tips and strategies that’ll help you create more effective email marketing campaigns that boost your email click-through rate so you can get more leads and win more business.

What’s a Good Email Click-Through Rate?

The first step is to work out what average email click-through rate you should aim for. It turns out that settling on a CTR average can be challenging.

That’s because email marketing benchmarks vary widely.  For example, Paceco says an email marketing click-through rate over 10% is good, though many emails don’t get anywhere near that number.

Delivra gives an average email click-through rate of 3.57% across all sectors. Within that, legal emails have the lowest CTR at 1.04%, while sports emails have a whopping 7.49% CTR.

Mailchimp’s 2017 benchmarks on email open rates by industry show click-through rates ranging from 1.25% in the restaurant industry to 5.13% in the hobbies sector.

Find stats on your current email click-through rate in the dashboard of your email service provider, and see how those compare to the industry averages. If yours are lower, you’ve got a target to aim for. If they’re higher, the tips in this guide will help you improve them even more.

How to Get Higher Email Open Rates

If people don’t open your emails, they’re never going to click. That’s why you have to improve your email open rate before you can improve your email click-through rate. Here are some tips to help you do that.

1. Ask for the Opt-In

The first step is to make sure people actually opt in to get your emails. Whether you’re using single opt-in or double opt-in, the point is subscribers have to voluntarily give you their email address.

Using OptinMonster, you can easily set up optin forms to attract subscribers who are interested in what you have to offer. See our ultimate guide to email marketing for step by step instructions. If you already have your email list set up, you can follow this guide to creating your first OptinMonster campaign to build your list quickly.

Pacemaker Buildings Exit Intent Popup

If you buy an email list and send emails to users who haven’t opted in, then when your email arrives they may not open it at all, and may mark it as spam. Too many spam reports hurt your sender reputation and affect future email deliverability, so you definitely want to avoid this.

In contrast, people who have opted in are more likely to open your email, and if you’ve used double opt-in, they’ve already had the chance to confirm their interest in your information, making email opens even more likely.

2. Nail the Email Subject Line

Did you know that, according to Litmus, 34% of recipients say the subject line is the most crucial factor in email opens? In fact, 69% of people will mark an email as spam before they open it, just because of the subject line.

The subject line also affects email click-through rate, conversions and, importantly, unsubscribes. (We’ll get back to that last one in a minute.)

That’s why it’s important to get it right. You can do this by:

  • Writing email subject lines that make people curious, so they want to open the email to learn more.
  • Using urgency and triggering the fear of missing out (FOMO).
  • Asking questions.
  • Including emoji and symbols, which make your emails stand out in the inbox and look more appealing.
  • Keeping it short, as so many email opens are on mobile devices.

Check out our mega-list of successful email subject lines for help and inspiration.

We said we’d talk about unsubscribes. Here’s what you need to know: if people open your email based on the subject line and are disappointed by what they find, they’ll hit the unsubscribe button, and may even mark your email as spam. That’s something you want to avoid. We’ll look at more tips to help with this in the next section.

3. Be a Reputable Sender

Those stats from Litmus also show that 42% of people check out the sender name when deciding whether to open an email. People get so much email that if they’re not sure who an email’s from, they may not open it.

There are couple of approaches you can take to make sure you’re recognizable. If your brand is well-known, you can use the brand as your sender name. Or, you could take a slightly more personal approach and combine the name of the sender with the name of the company.

Often a more personal approach will yield better results, as this test from Hubspot shows:

email open rate per sender name

4. Use the Preview Text Effectively

Litmus says that 24% of people look at the preview text before they decide to open an email. Preview text gives a snapshot of your email and is often pulled from the content, as Litmus illustrates:

email preview text affects clickthrough rate

In some email marketing software you can edit this text, which is a good idea if you don’t want recipients to end up with instructions for how to view images or read the email online. This happens a lot, and it’s a waste of a space that you can use to entice subscribers to open so you can boost your email click-through rate. It’s a good place to:

  • Include a second subject line.
  • Summarize the email.
  • Add a call to action. Sometimes this makes people open your email and head straight for the link or button you want them to click.

Apple email clients and Gmail, which are used by most email recipients, support preview text, so don’t ignore this opportunity to boost your email marketing click rate by cueing the open.

How to Improve Your Email Click-Through Rate

Assuming people open your emails, there are several areas to optimize to get them to click on one of the links in your email. Let’s look at those now.

5. Look After Email Formatting

Getting formatting right makes a big difference to whether people read your whole email or abandon it unread. And we don’t have to tell you what happens if they don’t read.

Here are some of the formatting areas to fix:

  • Make your email mobile-friendly. More people read email on mobile devices than desktop computers, so this is essential. Unoptimized email will be abandoned fast.
  • Avoid hiding key information in images. Not only is this bad for email accessibility, but if images are blocked by default, as happens with a lot of email clients, recipients will miss vital info which could help them decide to click.
  • Make sure the email width is right. Emails that are too wide or too narrow make a bad impression, and stop people from reading and clicking. Solve this by having a responsive email design – that’ll allow it to adjust for all screen sizes.
  • Create scannable emails. If the email is long, break it up just like a blog post, with subheadings for better readability. The email below is one example.

6. Improve Email Content

Once subscribers open your email, the content is what’ll keep them reading and lead them to click your links. There are a few things you can do to make your content more effective:

  • Make emails interactive, which is a growing trend according to the Litmus 2017 State of Email Report. Animated GIFs, video thumbnails and videos can get and keep readers’ attention.
  • Use images. Since human beings respond to visual stimuli, emails with images generally have a higher click rate.
  • Ask for feedback. If you’re running a poll or short survey, people will almost always take part, especially if there’s an offer they want to take up at the other end.

You can also:

  • Use numbers. If you use data in your email, people will often click through to learn more.
  • Include a subscriber bonus or incentive.
  • Include social sharing buttons. Social shares are clicks, too, so having the buttons increases your chances.

7. Segment and Personalize

Do you send all your emails to everyone on your list? If you do, it’s time to stop. That’s because everyone won’t be interested in everything, so if you want people to click, you’re better off sending them relevant information. That means segmenting your audience.

Take a look at this optin from Survival Life. Once people choose one of the options, the company already knows something about what information’s likely to interest them and what offers to send. The more relevant an email is, the more likely people are to want to take action.

survival life email segmentation

Personalization is also important, and is proven to boost email marketing click rates. We’re not just talking about using people’s names in subject lines and the body of the email, but about using the data you have about your subscribers to tailor the email marketing experience.

With OptinMonster, you can incorporate the data you have on your subscribers into any optin using Dynamic Text Replacement. Whatever information you have stored in your email list or CRM – such as their name, age, location, etc. – you can use to customize your email list building campaign.

You can also change email marketing based on the actions people take on your site, using page level targeting to deliver offers related to the page they’re on.

With more and more data available, personalization, segmentation and micro-targeting will become more important in boosting your email marketing click-through rate.

8.  Get the Timing Right

Timing is another important factor in getting your emails clicked. If your email arrives when people don’t have time to take action, they may never get to it.

Believe it or not, research from Spaceship shows that people are more likely to open and click your emails between 8PM and midnight, no matter where in the world you are.

Frequency is also important to the email click-through rate. Send too few and people will forget who you are, so there’s no incentive to open and click. Send too many, and you might end up in the spam box.

9. Build Trust

One factor that affects whether people click is whether their internet service provider trusts you. If you don’t want to be marked as spam or junk, you’ll need to look after your sender score which affects email filtering.

email marketing sender score

Your sender reputation also relies on user interaction. In other words, the more people open and click your emails, the better your sender reputation. And the better your sender reputation, the more likely it is your emails will get delivered.

Once the email’s in the inbox, there are other trust factors to be aware of, like:

  • Using a real email address that’s a person’s name rather than a generic or “no-reply” one.
  • Including a sender photo and signing the email from a real person.
  • Including social media links at the bottom of the email; these show you exist beyond the email, and are proven to boost email click rates by 158%.

10. Nail the CTA

A clear call to action wins the click. For best results, give people one thing to do when they read your email, and they’ll likely do it. To help, here’s our guide to how to write the perfect call to action.

CTA placement is also important. For example, Digital Doughnuts found that putting their CTA on the right of the email increased the email marketing click rate.

11. Test Everything

The only way to know what’s working and to fix what isn’t is to test. So test email subject lines, preview text, personalization, messaging, layout, call to action and timing. And if you can think of anything else to test, test that, too! We’ve got a guide to split testing that will help you optimize your email marketing campaigns.

Bonus Tips to Improve Your Email Click Rate

There are two final tips that can help you achieve a better email marketing click rate.

12. Resend Campaigns

If people didn’t open your email the first time round, send it again.  That gives them a second chance to click. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a different subject line, plus you’ll definitely want to send it at a different time of day. That can get a few more opens and clicks.

13. Clean Your List

Email lists have a natural churn rate, estimated by GetResponse at 25-30% each year. That’s made up of people who unsubscribe, or complain about your emails. It also includes people who don’t see your emails because they’re going in the spam folder or they just don’t check the email account they subscribed with.

A few options for solving this include:

  • Having an option for people to get fewer emails, also known as an “opt-down” option.
  • Using some of the tips listed above, like segmentation and personalization.
  • Sending re-engagement emails.

If none of these tips work, then remove those unengaged subscribers from your list. Most email marketing providers let you easily segment and remove subscribers based on activity or rating. That means that those who remain are more likely to open and click, boosting the click-through rate for your email.

Troubleshooting and solving your email marketing click rate can really pay off. One business boosted its click rate by 842%, getting more leads and sales as a result.

Now that you know how to boost your email marketing click rate, check out our guide to email retargeting to help you win back some customers. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more in-depth guides.

Sharon Hurley Hall is a technical writer at OptinMonster. Sharon has been a professional writer for more than 25 years. Her career has included stints as a journalist, blogger, academic writer, university lecturer, and ghost writer. Find out more about Sharon at sharonhh.com

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