Lift Your Click-Through Rates: 2 Tips from the Trenches

Part 1 — Alt Tags; Retina Images in Email

We all know that emails are the “workhorse channel.” But are you working everything available to you to optimize your open and click-through rates? In creating hundreds of emails for companies, I’ve learned to do just that. I see firsthand where the trouble spots are. To help you get the best results more often, here is Part 1 of a special 2-part series of newsletters I’ve created that address frequent mistakes and ways to avoid them.

Not proofing alt tags

Look at this edited email I received from a Wine Club. It came in my inbox with the images off.

Notice the blue text in the white boxes — the alt tags. They still allow me to see what the offer is. That’s good, since it’s enough of an incentive to click-see images. But do you see the typo in the second line of the blue text? Not so good!

I added that typo to illustrate that alt tags can have errors! Few people proofread the alt tags for sense and accuracy, leaving them open to errors that could reduce the number of clicks you get. Solution: Do as my agency does for each email: Proof. Use Firefox as your browser and add a Web Developer extension [here’s the link] so you have the tools you need to proof the alt tags.

Not recognizing the importance of using
retina display images

Think the images in your email look great on your standard office monitor? Well, readers on retina displays might be seeing something else — like blurry product shots or a blocky-looking logo! See my example below: same image, different pixel density.

sharp image
  2x image  

blurry image
1x image  

Only the 2x image on the left looks sharp on a retina display. The 1x image was created only for a standard office monitor and does not have enough pixels in it to render properly on higher pixel density retina displays. That’s why it’s blurry. All the emails created at my agency have the higher resolution, so no worries!

But how can you make sure your other vendors are supplying retina display images if you are using a standard office monitor? Simple. Just use the Web Developer extension (here’s the link again) and select image>view image information. If the images appear twice the size of what is used in the email, you have retina display images.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can be of further assistance. And keep your eye out for Part 2 of my special series of blog posts for more tips from the trenches.

A Timely Message

Get ready! It will be here before you know it! For what, you ask? Above is how much time we have left until it’s 2020!

Did this clock get your attention? Countdown clocks get results in emails and on landing pages. They engage the recipient/viewer and help create a sense of urgency for whatever event or product offer you’re promoting.

What’s unique about this clock is that, whenever you open an email or view a landing page you get the exact time before the event — providing real-time incentive to act.

NFL Big Win: One example of where the countdown clock was very effective, according to Marketing Sherpa. The NFL placed a countdown clock in their email newsletter, and it increased open rates by 121% and clickthroughs by 26%. Not only that, but people kept going back to it to see when the next game was. A marketer’s dream!!

That said, what better holiday to test a countdown clock than Christmas — especially when it’s 4, 3, or 2 weeks before the big event! And don’t forget to put some timely visuals in your print campaigns, too: Use a picture of a clock, with appropriate copy. Or show a calendar with the holiday date circled. These are classic tactics that continue to perform well.

Let me know if I can be of assistance.

Unopened Email: How It Can Bring In Sales

Try this out. Look at the above subject lines.

Just by reading the subject lines and NOT opening the email we do know —

1. If we stop by a Verizon store the new BlackBerry Z10 will be there
2. If we need a new Apple product we can save on shipping at Staples
3. It’s a good time to go to The Gap, we can save over 40%
4. If we want to hear Broadway Stars singing this weekend we can go to the Irvington Town Hall.

Therefore, we can easily say this: Unopened email can bring in orders. People will just show up at the Gap knowing they can save over 40%, or show up at the Irvington Town Hall and see Broadway Stars singing.

Does this tell us that the subject line is not only important for getting people to click-through, but also effective in doing a quick shout out? My answer is yes and no.

Look at which sectors it works well for, namely retail and entertainment. You can use the subject line as a marquee that basically states the offer. But if we look at this Adobe subject line — “Avoid the five pitfalls of personalization” — it’s a little different. Here, I can’t really do anything unless I open the email and read what the pitfalls are.

Conclusion: A subject line can stand in for an unopened email in certain sectors and with certain offers — but not if we have more of a story to tell.


How to Lift Email Response: 4 Call-to-Action Design Ideas

Try testing a new call-to-action. According to Hubspot by changing the design of your call-to-action, you can improve your click-through rates by 1300% (or more!)

Four ideas to try are:

1. Use different copy. For example, instead of “Learn More” try “See How XX Works”:


2. Add a drop shadow:

3. Use a different color or texture:

4. Add an arrow and even change the shape:

**KEEP IN MIND ** When you are testing, a button needs to look like a button.

Plus: Do not create a long button along the bottom. People will think it’s a footer — not a button.


Are You Turning Off Customers?

Judging Email Creative Based on “Images Off”

The default settings on some email programs are with images off when opening the email. Above are examples of 2 emails with “images off.” The top one (which I created) is an HTML-coded email with several grayed “images off” boxes. Note here that the message was still strongly evident — which will help pique someone’s interest to turn the images on to see the entire email. On the other hand, the bottom image has just one very large gray “images off” box. We have no idea what the email’s message is. This is not good, since there is nothing here to get someone to want to learn more.

Big lesson: Don’t risk losing your customers before they’ve even had a chance to read your email: Never use one big image for your email. Besides, the big image may take too long to download, which is another way to lose your customer.