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Why 21 Links Could Be Key to Your Email Success

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by: Arthur Hughes (@IBMforMarketing)
22 February 2012

What makes a successful email? There are many ways to measure success, but one key indicator is whether the recipient opened and interacted with the email. Here we have a problem. Less than 20 percent of emails from legitimate companies are opened, and only about 24 percent of openers click on any link. Putting opens and clicks together, that means only about 5 percent of the emails you send are opened and interacted with.

So what’s the secret of success? How can you get your openers to click on their opened emails? One solution is to have lots of links. Take a look at this chart:

If you want recipients to engage with your emails, give them plenty of opportunities to learn about interesting things. Deliver messages triggered by their behaviors. Serve up dynamic content related directly to their interests. And test giving them at least 21 links in every email.

Why do clicks matter? One reason is that they increase “dwell time.” Dwell time is the time that people spend reading your emails. No matter what you’re selling or promoting, the more time people spend on your email, the more likely they are to respond to your call to action—and, even better, the more likely they are to open your next email.

So how can you create 21 links in every email without your messages becoming cluttered and overwhelming the recipient? It’s not easy. Think about your organization and what it does. Start with your navigation bar. Put it up at the top with at least five interesting destinations. Down the left side, put a directory with at least six destinations. OK, we’re up to 11 links already. Of course, your call to action (in the upper right) has one or two links. Now we’re at 12.

The remaining nine links can be positioned in the middle or at the bottom. Think about all the interesting things you can feature: product ratings and reviews, surveys, opinion polls, preferences, profiles. What do these things have to do with the basic purpose of the email? Everything. They increase dwell time. They increase recipient engagement, sales and boost your future open rates.

So, take a look at your emails today. Do they have at least 21 links? No? Then get busy testing.

Arthur Middleton Hughes’ new book, Strategic Database Marketing 4th Edition, is filled with more useful email ideas.

Related Resources:
1) Tip Sheet: “10 Email Creative Tips for Boosting ROI, Opens and Clicks
2) Blog: “Boosting Your Click Rate
3) Webinar: “7 Tips to Design Buildable and Beautiful Emails
4) Blog: “3 Tips for Defensive Design: Keeping Your Readers Away from Competitor Advertisements




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