The Most Clicked Email of 2015

We send a lot of email. You might even say we're a little email obsessed. We also make it a habit to track email results to the Nth degree and discuss interesting trends around the office water cooler. Okay, so our virtual office doesn't actually have a water cooler - but sometimes we do hang out on virtual couches and talk about CTAs and responsive design. Suffice it to say that we get really excited when an email blows up an open or click rate.

When we say the "Most Clicked Email of 2015," we're talking about the highest Click-To-Open Rate (number of clicks/number of opens) we've seen. We sent this beauty for our friends at Curata:

So, what made this email so effective? People spend a lot of time working to get good open rates, but that's only half the battle. Or honestly, maybe even only a third. Cause what good is a catchy subject line with enticing pre-header text, if the payoff is weak? No clicks = no leads, no matter how good your open rates are. So when we talk about a high CTOR, what that really tells us is that the content of the email was well targeted (sent to the right people), relevant (conveyed the right message), and well designed (encouraged the right behavior). So let's break that down a little for the above example, shall we?

#1 How was this email targeted?

This email was actually split into two sends, the first going to our Hotline select (our newest subscribers from the last 120 days, who are typically some of our most responsive members regardless of the offer). On average, we see much higher CTOR rates from Hotline sends than any other segment. BUT, that doesn't mean you'll automatically see great results if you aren't also paying attention to #2 and #3 below. It also doesn't mean that you can't achieve similarly great results with a more targeted select, if your offer is extremely relevant (see #2).

#2 Why Was This Email Relevant?

The second send for this email went to our "Content Marketing" select, and this received the second highest CTOR of 2015 after its Hotline brother. Blogs are the lifeblood of content marketing - and since the offer here was for an eBook on business blogging strategy - this obviously resonated with our audience who was interested in content marketing. (P.S. I haven't read Curata's e-book and I'm sure its fantastic, but I'll tell you what I think is probably the #1 most important "secret of business blogging": SHOW UP. It doesn't matter how brilliant your one post per year is - if you can't make the time to blog regularly, let us help you take a load off).

#3 How Did This Email Design Encourage Clicks?

After building and sending thousands of emails over the years, we've started to notice a few trends in the ones that get great clicks. Here are some that this email hit on the head:

  • Blue and greyscale color scheme: we're not entirely sure why this works, but we see it too often to ignore it. If your brand colors are pink and green though - DON'T PANIC. It's true that blue and grey create a calming vibe, but we suspect the success here has more to do with avoiding "color overload" in general. So, pick two colors to use throughout your email and stick to them. Or if your brand guidelines allow, place your full color logo at the top and use blue and grey in the rest of the email. Cause, why not?
  • Header image ("above the fold") incorporating a clear Call To Action (CTA) button: as mobile open rates have climbed over the past few years, we've gotten our panties in a collective bunch about making sure that the reader doesn't have to scroll before taking an action. But then there's this "embrace the scroll" mentality to contend with, and we're left wondering whether a big button up top is really necessary. 8 out of our top 10 most clicked emails of 2015 have incorporated a CTA button in the header though, so it very well could still be relevant. This is also the one exception for the "two colors per email" rule - make your buttons stand out with something like orange or fuchsia, which we've noticed perform well.
  • Text link CTA: whether this is actually a factor or just something that tends to appear alongside other "best practices" in well-performing emails, it's hard to say. Supposedly the text link is on its way out, but we also file this under "Why not?"
  • Additional large CTA button at the bottom: this third of the "Call To Action Trifecta" also appears in the vast majority of well-clicked emails.
  • "Letter style" with a greeting and personal "signature" at the bottom: this should come as no surprise, but people like to feel like they are a person hearing from a person. The interwebs may be killing our grammar, but the letter format still rings true in marketing!
  • Bullets! We know that 80% of readers are just scanning our emails, so make it easy on them with a bold header image, strong headline, and overall brevity. Save the lengthy details for your whitepapers or (ahem) blog posts.

When you open an email, what sorts of things make you click?
Inquiring minds would love to know, in the comments below...

Resident Email Geek and
MarCom Manager,

Nina