Standalone Emails

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,


So You've Bought An Email...Now What?

After you've booked a Standalone Email and secured a date to send to our list, take a look at these tips for next steps on building your email.

What You'll Need To Send Us

These are the deliverables that we will need 7 business days in advance of your email drop date:

  • Fully coded HTML for your email, with ALL images hosted on your server
  • Text version of your email as a backup for our readers not viewing HTML, with URLs on their own lines (.txt file)
  • Subject Line (or Lines, if you're doing an A/B split)
  • Proofing email addresses: separated by commas, of people to receive email test proofs
  • Seed Email addresses: separated by commas, of people to receive email seeds of actual send
  • Suppression file (optional) of email addresses only, in Excel or CSV format. We cannot suppress general domain names.

Technical Tips

  • Email creative should be no wider than 720 pixels. There is not really a height limit, but please note that the call to action (CTA) should be "above the fold" (approximately 420 pixels in height), and readers shouldn’t have to scroll forever to read the email. We have found that “short and sweet” copy that gets to the point quickly is best.
  • Do not use JavaScript since most email clients will not accept it.
  • Inline stylesheets can be used to format text, but we recommend using regular HTML font formatting for guaranteed universal acceptance.
  • CSS code styling is also NOT recommended as this causes rendering problems with different email providers, especially different versions of Outlook. As a guideline, please read here for specific types of code that are not recognized by Outlook and will likely cause issues rendering your email across browsers (especially Outlook 2007/2010/2013, which is a significant portion of our audience).
  • Your code should also be responsive across devices (use of @media queries), as 35%+ of our readers are viewing email on mobile.
  • All images need to be hosted on your server with global links to the images (src=”http…).
  • Forms are not recommended, but can be used if the mailing doesn’t include AOL or Hotmail users. Even then, the form should be very basic and not employ JavaScript. Always provide the user with a link to a hosted version of the form.
  • Creative can be coded using colspans, but we recommend using a stacked table structure since it is more stable across all email clients.
  • Flash should not be used within an email template. If Flash is required for the campaign, consider directing the user to a hosted landing page to view the Flash piece.
  • We also strongly recommend testing through Litmus to see how the email renders across different browsers and mobile devices. We test all proofs through Litmus across browsers and will let you know if there are things that are not rendering and need to be fixed.
  • MarketingProfs handles all unsubscribe information for our list in our footer (which will appear below your HTML), so if your email contains your own unsubscribe links we will need to remove or redirect these. This has been a policy since 2014 and is enforced.

Creative & Design Tips

Interested in what we've seen working in 2015? Check out our report on The Most Clicked Email of 2015 for specific ideas on creating an effective campaign.

  • Your company’s logo and branding needs to be prominently "above the fold" or in the header of your email. While the email is being sent by MarketingProfs on your behalf, it should be clear that the offer is coming from you and not MarketingProfs. We also require your company to have name/address/contact information in the footer of your email.
  • If you are promoting a live event, your email creative and offer will be subject to MarketingProfs approval prior to sending as this may represent a conflict on our end. There are certain dates and time periods during which we do not allow for the promotion of any live events (check with your Client Hero prior to your send).
  • We do not offer first or last name personalization in the emails as we don’t have this information on file in our database. Please provide a generic greeting as personalization will need to be removed.
  • Featured content and navigation should also appear “above the fold."
  • The entire template design should be encased in a 1-pixel border. This will “seal off” the template and present it as a unified design element to the user.
  • Consider adding more organic shapes into your template design. Email creative is displayed through applications which have very rigid, box-like layouts. Adding images with people or designing with curves will make your template work better visually to attract the users interest.
  • Incorporate a main navigation bar into your template. This provides the user a “way out” in case they’re not interested in the main content.
  • Clear “calls to action” (CTAs) should be used to designate clickable areas.

As always, please reach out to your Client Hero or creative contact with any questions during the process. We are here to help!


Product Manager