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Troubleshooter’s guide: why aren’t they clicking through?

Three proven tips to help improve click through rates on your future email marketing campaigns


Convincing would-be customers to click through your emails has always been a challenge for marketers. Getting your message into inboxes is relatively easy, but why aren’t your clients responding to your email marketing campaigns?

First of all, you must consider the customer’s position:

  1. Nearly one in five (19%) of all emails received in 2012 was spam.
  2. 89 billion business emails were sent and received every day last year.

(Source: Email Statistics Report 2011-2015: Executive Summary – The Radicati Group)

Email is becoming more time consuming and intrusive, leading many recipients to delete anything which:

  1. Is clearly unrelated to the task in hand.
  2. Arrives when they are too busy.

Here are six areas to improve in future email marketing campaigns to try and address low click-through rates.

Shonky subject lines

The first hurdle in raising click-through rates is actually convincing your recipient to open their message in the first place. Using an unappealing subject line is almost certain to help speed your email into the Recycle Bin.

Your ideal subject line:

  1. Should have no more than 130 characters in total.
  2. Avoid phrases like “B2B and “business”.
  3. Include words that denote action (“Alert”) or suggest cost savings (“Free delivery”, “25% off”).

(Source: Adestra Subject Line Analysis Report 2013)

View the infographic

Test your subject lines in advance. Bounce them off your team to decide which has the desired effect – convincing someone to open the message. Then conduct A/B testing on the subject lines you’ve shortlisted.

Poor timing

There are certain times of day when you can guarantee that your recipient will be busy:

  • After 9am on a weekday when they will be getting on with work.
  • During lunch breaks (12-1pm) when your recipient is away from their desk.
  • Between 4pm and 8pm when they are finishing up for the day, travelling home and having dinner.

Knowing this, you can schedule your emails so that they arrive at a time convenient to your readers:

  • Emails sent at 3pm and 8pm are more likely to be opened and clicked through than any other time of day.
  • Emails sent just before the working day begins (8-9am) catch readers before they get stuck in at work, offering a second window of opportunity.

(Source: “Email hour by hour” – GetResponse)

Schedule email marketing campaigns so that messages hit your recipient’s mailbox within these timeframes and you should see an uplift in click-throughs.

Segment your data

List segmentation allows you to provide a more targeted offer to your subscribers. Instead of bugging recipients with offers that they just aren’t interested in, you can target offers to selected parts of the list – which will significantly increase the chances of someone clicking on a link. When segmentation is used, marketers experience on average 18% more transactions, 24% more sales leads and 24% more revenue!

Insert a call-to-action

A Call To Action (CTA) either as a graphic or a piece of text on a website works wonders for click-through rates, and the same is true for emails. By inserting a clear CTA you will capture your reader’s attention by highlighting your offer and actively encourage them to click your link.

Get mobile

Mobile optimising your emails ensures that your readers don’t have to be using a traditional computer to gain the full effect of your email. The use of mobile devices for reading email is growing like wildfire.
44% of email is now opened on a mobile device.
Optimise your email to be read on mobile devices and ensure that this huge segment of users don’t miss your offers!

Blah content

Finally, if your emails have great subject lines and are hitting inboxes at the optimum times, but click through rates are not improving, the final thing to check is the actual content of the email.

  • Is the content personalised to the recipient?
    “Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%” – Email Marketing: Get Personal with Your Customers – Aberdeen Group
  • Are the products/services relevant to the recipient’s interests?
    “Click through rates tend to be 15% better on emails that have been sent to segmented lists than unfiltered mailblasts” – Effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats – MailChimp
  • Are your offers actually any good?
  • Is the Call To Action (CTA) clear and compelling, forcing your customers to click through?

As with email subject lines, testing is crucial to fine tune content to make it more appealing to your readers.

To do list

For future email marketing campaigns, to improve your email click through rates you should:

  • Test your subject lines to make sure they are compelling and fit the magic 130 character limit.
  • Schedule emails so that they arrive with your recipients after lunch.
  • Make sure the body of your email is interesting and tells the reader exactly what to do next, click through to your website.


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