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Getting more people to click on your newsletter

by Colin Nederkoorn

Open this to see clicks

Every time I teach a class on email copywriting, people are kind enough to bring their newsletters in to get feedback.

After teaching a lot of classes, I’ve noticed a few trends when people are unhappy with how their newsletter performs.

First, let’s set the scene.

You’re a marketer responsible for a regular email newsletter. Each department or person in your company demands their little area in the newsletter.

You cave to their demands and add lots of sections and sidebars to fit in all the content and please everybody. When it’s all said and done, you’re not crazy about the newsletter. It’s not coherent. You’re not quite sure who the intended audience is. You’ve ended up with a content buffet that won’t resonate with your readers.

Sound familiar?

Here are some things you can do:

Focus on a single idea

Rather than fighting about which 12 pieces of content to put in, own your newsletter, be opinionated and focus it on a specific idea that you know interests your readers.

This might mean telling your colleagues they’ll need to find another channel to communicate their update if it doesn’t fit the focus.

When Wistia, a video host for businesses tested a focused email against traditional newsletter format, they got positive results:

40% clicked

To do: If you currently send content buffet newsletters, do a split test next week using an email focused on your best content.

Have a clear (and single) call to action

The myth of the fold is sticking around like a pesky rash.

Designers concerned about the fold often put calls to action up before people even know what they would be clicking.

A better approach is not to have any calls to action until you’ve convinced the person they can’t help but click.

In fact, you don’t even need more than one call to action if your design makes it clear where to click.

My recommendation is to use the AIDA structure for writing your emails.

Take a look at the marketing emails that Shopify sends. I’m not sure if they are consciously using the AIDA structure for their emails, but they do a really good job at building up your interest before they ask you to click.

Here’s a recent marketing email broken down into “Attention, Interest, Desire and Action”.

Shopify AIDA structure

The one recommendation I would make here is to test changing the call to action from “Read More”. You want to focus the call to action on the value that people will get by clicking. In this case, maybe something like “Learn how to grow your business” or just “Grow your business”.

In addition to focusing the content of your emails, here are a couple other tips that can help you increase your click through rates from email.

Should you use a link or a button?

You might have noticed in the shopify email uses a button to entice you to click at the end of the email.

Kissmetrics call to action

A lot of copywriting experts use text links rather than buttons in their emails. In fact, survey says that a lot of people prefer simply formatted emails.

Email marketing tool Aweber did some of their own testing and text links won.

We don’t have conclusive evidence about which works best for us. I’d recommend you test it for your audience.

If you use a button, make sure it’s built with HTML and not an image

Many email clients like Gmail and Outlook block images. If the image is blocked, people wont see your call to action!

Ideally, your button looks something like this one from Optimizely when images are turned off:

Optimizely email images off

Resources for building great email buttons

There’s no excuse for using images for buttons in 2013 (almost 2014). Especially with the following great resources that teach you how to do it easily with HTML.

What will your newsletter look like next week?

Getting people to click through is part art and part science. Are you already doing the things recommended above? Do you have any tried and true strategies that work for you?

Or are you struggling to get the results you want? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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