How One Company got a Near-Perfect Click-Through Rate

A case study from Whirlpool’s marketing department can show us one single foolproof way to increase the success and click-through rates of every email in your email marketing campaign.

Email campaigns are meaningless if they don’t drive action. Usually, the action you’re aiming for is clicking on a link—meaning the success of your emails is measured in their click-through rates.

A Quick Definition: Email Click-Through Rate

The click-through rate of your email marketing campaign is the number of readers who have clicked on at least one link in an email they’ve received from you.

To calculate your click-through rate, divide the number of clicked links by the number of delivered emails and then multiply by 100 to make it a percentage. The average click-through rate is 4.19%, so don’t judge yourself too harshly.

Tip: For a bunch of really good statistics about email click-through rates in different industries, try this article from Smart Insights.

Case Study: Whirlpool’s Email Marketing Campaign

Whirlpool’s senior marketing manager Thomas Mender, was inspired by a popular marketing summit to bring a surprisingly radical change to his company.

Up until his decision to change Whirlpool’s email marketing culture, the company would go through the same process for every email campaign: they would receive a draft email campaign from agency partners, let a brand manager revise it, and then send it out. Mender, however, had learned better.

The first email campaign he had the opportunity to change was the Ice Kitchen Collections campaign. The goal of the campaign was to drive customers to a rebate landing page, where they could then navigate to a page where they could purchase the advertised appliances.

Each email had four calls to action (CTAs), a move that the company thought would improve click-through rates. Each link would lead readers to a different page.

Instead, Mender challenged the brand and the agency, operating as two separate teams, to create two versions of the same email campaign—each one had a different number of CTA buttons. Then they tested each email with a select group to see which would get a higher open rate and CTA.

By using the more popular email, Whirlpool managed to improve its click-through rate by 42%!

What’s the Most Important Lesson from this Case Study?

This case study is from 2014, but the lessons we can learn from it are timeless.

While on the surface it may seem like Whirlpool’s case study is reminding us to have a focused call to action (and that is important!) the most significant aspect of the story is Mender’s decision to test the emails. A/B testing is absolutely imperative for any email campaign, because it’s the only way to truly know your audience in a data-driven way.

A/B testing means that you take a small, representative sample of the demographic you’re targeting and divide it into two groups. Each group gets a different version of the email. After a certain amount of time, you tally which email got the better click-through rate, and then use that email on a wider group of readers.

Once you’ve decided to do A/B testing, what are some strategies you can use to start improving your email campaigns? Here are some tips!

Ways to Increase Email Click-Through Rate: Where to Start

  • Remember that you’re speaking to businesses and that your writing voice and style should be different than when you’re dealing with consumers. Experiment with different types of tone and see which one appeals to your base the most.
  • Test out which days get the best click-through rates. More people have time to leisurely read emails on the weekends, so those tend to have better click-through rates for more consumer focused campaigns.
  • Segment your list. Divide your list by demographics and customize email campaigns for each category. Try different strategies with different types of customers.
  • Make sure your content is relevant. Test which types of content attract the most clicks.
  • Experiment with personalization and try out different placements for personalized information (like the reader’s name).
  • Find out what email schedule works for your brand and your readers.  No matter what you choose, be consistent.
  • Figure out how image use and placement changes your click-through rates.
  • Test what kind of videos readers like and how that affects click-through rates.  Instead of embedding the video, do you get better performance by adding a still photograph from the video and turning it into a link to view the full version?
  • Experiment with different subject lines and the words and phrases that entice your audience.

Are you using A/B testing in your email marketing campaign? What are you going to test first? Let us know in the comments below!

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