7 Creative ways to increase email click rates

Andrea Campbell

4 minute read

Apple’s impending Mail Privacy Protection feature will force marketers to look beyond the open rate to focus on engagement metrics that matter. The click is one of those metrics. 

As a marketer, you have a new quest – to do everything in your power to encourage customers to click.

This is a best practice whose time has come again, one that will help you navigate Apple’s privacy features, which we predict other email giants will adopt in some form.  

Why focus on clicks?

“Clicks and conversions have always been the critical signal to a thriving email program anyway,” my colleague Alex Williams, Trendline’s SVP and Practice Lead for Cloud Consulting for reference, explains in Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection is an Earthquake for Email Marketers. 

Clicks are a more reliable intent signal than opens, which can get undercounted thanks to image blocking. The people who click on your emails are already more valuable to your email efforts than the ones who just open. 

So, Apple policy or not, it just makes more sense to invest your creative energy in persuading more people to click on your emails. Luckily, email gives you many ways to make it happen without resorting to tricks or questionable hacks to get around the policy. 

Bonus: Increasing clicks in your emails can also send signals to ISPs that your customers are interested and engaged in your emails. That can boost your sender reputation and increase  your chances of hitting the inbox instead of the spam folder.

7 tips to get more customers to click

Start now to think about how you can make your emails more click-worthy. Here are 7 tactics:

  1. Sharpen up your subject lines.

Even though the open rate won’t be a reliable metric, you still need to get your emails opened. These tips can help you get more opens, and that can lead to more clicks:

  • Find the detail that differentiates. What makes your new-product announcement different from the 20 others in your customer’s inbox? Put that in your subject line.
  • Front-load your important info. Mailbox providers can be capricious in where they cut off subject lines in the inbox. Put your key details – offer, discount, deadline – at the start of the subject line to be sure readers will see it.. 
  • Maximize inbox information. Your sender line should tell viewers exactly who sent the email. The preheader can flesh out the subject line. All three inbox fields can work together to encourage an open.

Want more subject line advice? Find it here: Email Subject Lines: How to Convert with the C.U.R.V.E. Method.

  1. Ramp up the relevance with check-in emails.

Want to know what email I opened and clicked on as soon as I saw it in my inbox? A Spotify message with the subject line “Change to your Spotify subscription.” Okay, not the most grabber subject line ever. But, because I am a paid user, this email was off-the-charts relevant. 

Inside, I learned Spotify asked me to verify my snail-mail address to make sure it was charging me the right sales tax for my state. It didn’t set off any scam alarms, so I clicked on it to make sure my info was correct.

Check-in emails like this can stand out in your customers’ overflowing inboxes and encourage clicks that regular promotional emails don’t. They also can pull in data to fill holes in your customers’ records, and you don’t have to wait for your customer to do something before you send it. That’s a win-win-win.

Here are six content ideas off the top of my head. What would be meaningful for your brand and customers?

  • “Do we have your correct address/phone number/postal code?”
  • “Tell us what’s changed in your life so we can send you more relevant offers.”
  • “Are we sending the kinds of emails you want?”
  • “We’re changing these 3 things to give you a better shopping experience.”
  • “Tell us how we can improve our service and we’ll send you a special thank-you.”
  • “3 customer benefits you aren’t using but should.”

Note: Be sure your email content doesn’t look like a phishing email, where someone impersonates your brand to hack your customers’ personal data. Use your regular email template, and add a phone number or email address skeptical customers can use to contact you and make sure the request is legitimate.

  1. Add a creative call to action.

You can keep your check-in email content relatively short, which by itself can encourage more people to click through for the details. The call to action can complete the thought: “3 minutes for 20% off.”

From a design standpoint, make sure your CTA is easily visible. Add plenty of white space, visual or directional cues or a layout that leads the eye right to it. 

Text links can disappear into your copy or be hard to click on small smartphone screens. A “bulletproof button” will highlight what you want your customer to click on even with images off.

  1. Use your (header) words.

Your message headline can encourage more people to click down in the email body. For an email asking customers to fill out a post-purchase survey, use the header to highlight how fast they can complete the survey (“We need just 1 minute of your time”) or what you’ll do with the feedback (“Give us 1 minute so we can improve our service to you”). Testing can help you learn what would motivate more customers to click through.

  1. Add content to transactional emails.

Online shoppers love transactional emails like registration or purchase confirmations and shipping updates. But many of these messages just deliver information. They don’t give your customers something to click on when they’re most engaged.

Granted, the transaction has to be the most prominent content in a transactional email. Still, you can add a module below the transactional content with information like this:

    • Dynamic cross-sell or upsell recommendations based on their purchases 
    • Invitation to join your loyalty, VIP or user community or to set up a profile
    • Link to a satisfaction survey
    • Links to FAQs and other user info.
  1. Add an email to a lifecycle series.

Do you send a welcome email? Abandoned-cart reminder? One email might not do the job. Turn a single lifecycle email into a two-email series, or extend your two-email series to three. Give each email a specific job, and a related link, with enough info about what you’re asking customers to do so they feel comfortable clicking.

  1. Step up testing.

All of my recommendations here will work better for you if you can set up tests to find out what is more likely to prompt your customers to click. Testing will give you valuable insights about your audience and segments within it that you can use to design better-performing emails, increase conversions, make more money or otherwise achieve your goals. 

Want to know more? We can help!

We at Trendline have been watching privacy moves like Apple’s and others and working with clients to develop strategies that will create more effective email programs. We’d love to go over options with you so you can turn this potential challenge into a big win. Just drop us a line or give us a call!

Trendline Interactive

Ready to send better messages?

About the Author(s)

Andrea Campbell

Creative Director. Animal lover, drawer, tattoo collector, tortured Detroit sports fan. Can most often be found at a live music show, stand-up show, or watching Coronation Street.

Let's Take This to the Inbox

Sign up for our news, resources and updates. The inbox is our favorite place after all. We’ll make sure it’s worth it. (You can unsubscribe at any time, but you probably already knew that.)