If email is a regular part of your company's marketing mix, you've probably considered the some of the different ways email can engage your contacts. But have you ever wondered which links within your email sends engage recipients (that is, get them to click) the most? We were very curious about that, too, especially since the links within your email are critical for driving action -- and conversion -- from your email marketing .
Considering that's the case, wouldn't it be powerful to know which parts of your emails are the most effective at attracting your recipients' attention -- and which parts lose it? To help get to the bottom of it, we analyzed a sample of 26 unique HubSpot emails that we sent to the same audience over a period of three months in 2012. We then explored which links in our dedicated email sends got the most clicks. (Note: a dedicated email send is one that promotes a specific offer as opposed to a newsletter that covers a range of topics and offers.)
Before we reveal the findings of this analysis, let’s cover the various link types we feature in our HubSpot email sends.
6 Types of Links to Include in Your Marketing Emails
1. Main Call-to-Action Link
This is the link to your primary call-to-action , or what you want your recipients to do after they've opened your email. For instance, if you send an email about your new ebook, you should be asking people to "download it." If you're hosting a webinar or some other type of event, your main call-to-action in the email should invite people to “sign up for the event.”
2. Social Media Sharing Links
These are the links that enable recipients to share the content of the email within their social networks. If they find the email valuable, they may want to spread the word about it and let their friends and coworkers know about the type of information they consume. Providing links or buttons for your recipients to easily do just that extends the reach of your email content to people beyond your direct email list. In our marketing emails, for example, we include social media links to the most popular social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
3. Social Media Follow Links
These are the links that recipients click if they want to follow your company via social channels. The logic is simple: if your contacts are happy with the email content you've sent them, they might also be interested in subscribing to receive even more information/updates from you through other channels of communication such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.
4. Logo Link
Most companies include their logos in the marketing emails they send. This reinforces to email recipients where the content they're receiving is coming from. HubSpot’s logo, for instance, is located at the top left of our email templates. This logo can also be linked to a page, whether your homepage, a product page, or an About Us page.
5. Link in the P.S.
All industry research shows that the P.S. has tremendous marketing power. It stands out visually, and draws the eye of the readers. In dedicated sends, marketers can use the P.S. as a call-to-action to the main offer (reinforcing the primary action) or as an introduction of an alternative, supplementary offer.
6. Link in Plain-Text Version of the Email
Lastly, your ESP should allow you to create plain-text versions of your HTML emails . The plain-text version will strip out all images and code, leaving just text in recipients’ inboxes. These emails have a personal feel and, some marketers argue , can have higher CTR than HTML emails in some instances. However, this is something worth testing with your audience and voice.
So now you are probably wondering what the engagement of subscribers is across these different types of links. Let’s dig in to the data!
The Winner of 'Most Engagement' Goes to (Drumroll, Please) ... the Primary Call-to-Action!
No surprise here! If your email subject line presented a specific offer (like most subject lines for dedicated sends do) and recipients opened your message, they would most likely go straight for your primary call-to-action.
If you're not doing dedicated sends but rather newsletters, digests, or another type of email format, you should pay closer attention to the specific call-to-action links your subscribers clicked on. In that way, you can identify the content your recipients are most interested in.
Clicks on the Logo & P.S. Come Second in Importance
Our analysis showed that besides clicks on the main call-to-action HubSpot’s marketing emails present, subscribers also like to explore what’s behind our logo and P.S.
In the P.S., we usually introduce an alternative, supplementary HubSpot offer in our dedicated email sends. So if a subscriber isn’t interested in the email’s primary call-to-action, he or she can engage with another resource on a similar topic. If you're not using a P.S., start adding it to your marketing emails and watch your CTR climb. Also, don’t forget to hyperlink your logo to a page on your website that will teach your recipients more about your company and what you offer. Some email recipients may forget why they signed up for email from you -- use this as an opportunity to remind them!
Social Media Sharing Links Get More Clicks Than Social Media Follow Links
In order to make your emails social, we often recommend that you add social media sharing and follow links to each email send. But what if your email was already looking jam-packed and you wanted to remove some elements to de-clutter your email real estate? Well, if you had to choose between one or the other, go with the sharing links -- people tend to click them more. For HubSpot's emails, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook sharing links get about a 0.01% CTR , which means that if you send a message to 100,000 people, 5-9 of them will click on the social media sharing links. (To increase that number, consider offering an incentive to people who share your email socially, such as entering them into a raffle or a giveaway.)
Emails Promoting Ebooks Get a Higher CTR Than Emails Promoting Webinars
The biggest variable in your email marketing is the offer you provide . Are you sending an invite to an upcoming event, asking people to sign up for your product, offering them a free whitepaper or some other marketing resource? The offer can impact the performance of your send to a large degree.
We separated our sample of email sends into two groups based on the offer they promoted — emails revolving around a marketing ebook and emails revolving around an upcoming webinar. The ones promoting ebooks got almost twice the CTR of the emails promoting webinars .
That dynamic has been familiar to us as we've looked at our landing page dashboard and conducted content surveys. For one reason or another, the majority of the HubSpot audience seems to prefer text-based content. What does that ratio look like for your company? Find out and ensure that you are doing proper email segmentation that sends the right type of content to the folks interested in it.
Analyzing Your Own Email Links
The results we've shared here are specific to our own audience, and they may have even been different had we analyzed emails sent to a different segment of contacts. That's why it's critical that you analyze your own emails to determine your own email marketing best practices. For example, while our audience seems to prefer text-based content over webinar content, your audience might prefer something different.
We did the analysis above pretty quickly using HubSpot's email tool , which gives us insights into click activity for every email we send. Here is an example of what the display of click activity might look like:
Some other ESPs can also provide information on click activity across different emails. Look into this data and consider how you can boost your numbers or optimize the pages that receive the most attention from your email subscribers.
Have you noticed any patterns on the clicks you get in your emails? Share them with us in the comments below.