Links, links everywhere and not a single click!

I have designed and built many newsletters and promotional emails for clients over the last few years. So many that I lost count of the exact number long ago. These projects have ranged from the the very simple text-only option to holiday cards to the most complex of newsletters, all for the staffing industry. The look and style will vary greatly from one to the next but there is a common thread between many of these emails: the sheer number of links inside of them.

When designing a landing page, which exist to get the user to take a desired action, one of the best practices is to remove any unecessary distractions or links. You don’t want the user leaving the page unless you’re explicitly directing them to go somewhere else (like a form or a download). That means that items like navigation or other external links should be excluded and the call to action should be the most eye-catching element on the page.

Why don’t we treat emails like that?

Email is a channel that requires a quick response in as little time as possible. Most people will decided whether or not to read a newsletter based on the subject line alone. If they make it past that step (the vast majority on your list won’t), then you need to make it as easy as possible for them to take a desired action. Those desired actions include either clicking through on an article to read the full piece (and ultimately drive them back to your website or a landing page) or to have the reader take advantage of a call-to-action. Putting obstacles (such as navigation bars and other external links that may not help reach marketing goals) in the reader’s path will only serve to lower that clickthrough rate and thus you want to make it as clear and easy for them as possible.

That is exactly what we set out to do when we reviewed and redesigned our invite emails for Lunch with Haley and Product Demo webinars. The old formats weren’t necessarily clunky or overloaded but they weren’t as clear as they could have been. The buttons in the previous version, while large, weren’t as obvious as they could have been and this was a major part of the email’s latest version. We made a point of putting all of the most important information (the title, date, time, and a button to RSVP) front and center while minimizing the number of places that the reader was able to click that would take them away from the end goal. In the end, this email only has five total links: an option to view the email in a browser window, the Lunch with Haley website, and three ways to register for the webinar.

We have only sent these new designs out once (our ACA Redone webinar with John Rutledge and our Chatbot product demo) and the results are promising with more clicks on these two emails than just about anything else we’ve sent so far this calendar year. Of course, a perfect test is difficult because of the sheer number of variables (topics, dates, times, presenters, promotion, subject lines, preheader text, and more) but this is something that we’re going to keep a very close eye on.

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