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10 Effective Ways to Improve Email Click-through Rate

By ben on May 19, 2015


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Getting leads to opt-in into your email newsletter is a huge win – it means that they are interested in your brand and in reading more of your content. However, just because someone is on your email list does not mean that they are going to read the emails that you send them.

It’s why checking your email click-through rate is so important. If your email click through rate is low, then you’re doing something wrong.

This may come as a surprise to you, especially if you’re positive that you’ve been writing catchy headlines and good content. Fortunately, not all is lost.

The following are a number of ways that you can improve your email click through rate.

Optimize your emails for mobile use


Currently, around 64 percent of American adults own smartphones. This number is only expected to grow, especially when taking into consideration the fact that this is a 29 percent increase in the amount of American adults that owned smartphones in 2011, only four years ago.

This means that there’s a pretty good chance that many Americans are going online using their smartphones instead of their desktops, which in turn means that many are opening their emails via their smartphones.

In fact, according to data collected at the beginning of 2015, around 53 percent of all emails are opened up on a mobile device. That’s almost a 500 percent increase from the amount of emails opened on mobile devices back in 2011.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that if your emails aren’t optimized for mobile use, they aren’t going to be read.


This is simply because they are going to be too difficult to read.

Emails that aren’t optimized for mobile use are not going to be displayed properly for larger screens because smartphones have smaller and narrower screens.

If a person clicks on your email while on their mobile device and sees that it’s not optimized, there’s a good chance that is going to be the last time they click on one of your emails, effectively destroying your email click through rate for that individual.

So if your emails aren’t optimized for mobile use, then you need to do the following in order to ensure that they are:

  • Use bigger font – You can get away with using smaller font in emails when they are being read on a desktop, but a small font is going to be incredibly hard to read on a smartphone. You don’t want readers to have to zoom in to read your content.


  • Streamline your content – Your content shouldn’t be overly long to begin with, which means that optimizing your content for mobile use is a good way to trim the fat. Get to the point you’re making and don’t get bogged down in text and images.

    Mobile users also simply don’t want to spend that much time reading any type of content while on their phones.


  • Use a single column layout – Newsletters are often sent out in multi-column formats. This just doesn’t work well for mobile devices. A single column format will be more suitable for the screen size of a smartphone.


  • Get rid of detailed navigation bars – Navigation bars with too many options are too difficult to click on smartphones. There’s really no reason to have them in your emails.
  • Use touch-friendly buttons – It’s pretty easy to click on anchor text on your desktop, which means clicking on links and calls-to-action isn’t something you give much thought to. However, having to click on these links with your thumbs on a much smaller screen can be a real pain to accomplish. Make your links and calls-to-action buttons so that they are much easier to click on.


  • Use ALT text – There are many mobile phone apps that block images as a default setting. If you are using images in your content, you’ll want to use ALT text in order to provide readers with context if their images are blocked.


    These tips will help you to optimize your emails for mobile use.

    However, just because your content is optimized does not mean that subscribers are going to suddenly begin opening up your emails at a greater rate.

    It will certainly help allow your subscribers to read your content if they do decide to open your emails, which of course is important if you want them to ever open up another email again.

    However, you’re going to need to entice your subscribers to open more of your emails as well.

The 10 Golden Rules for Improving Your Email Click Through Rate

Let’s go over some of the rules that you should follow in order to entice your subscribers into actually opening your email instead of either ignoring it or deleting it from their inbox.

The following are the golden rules for improving your email click through rate:

  • Know your audience – You need to know who you are writing for even when it comes to crafting your email subject line. The way you address a 21-year old college student is going to be different the way you address a 43-year old stay-at-home mom.
  • Use your name as your “from” address – By putting your name as the “from” address, you’ll not only make your brand more personal to subscribers (it will seem less like a corporate newsletter). Not to mention that this way you’re putting your name and reputation on the line, which shows commitment.


  • Deliver on what you promise – When creating your subject line you need to back up what you are offering. If you promise “8 ways to improve email click-through rates,” then there better be 8 ways to improve email click-through rates in the content of your email and not a link to an ebook that subscribers can buy. By delivering on what you promise you’ll build trust among your subscribers.


  • Be personal, but not too personal – Don’t be afraid to write your subject lines as well as your content in a more personal voice. This will make your emails seem less like an automated newsletter written by a computer and more like they were written by an individual.

    For example, you could send out emails to your subscribers on their birthdays with subject lines such as “Happy Birthday, Tom! Here is a surprise for you!” and then include a coupon or discount inside. Just don’t go overboard – addressing the subscriber by their full name in every email subject line is going to be creepy and off putting.

  • Use powerful words in your headline – Certain words will attract attention. Use sensory and emotional words as well as words that are persuasive and even bizarre.

    By choosing certain words like this you’ll make your emails stand out from the rest of your subscribers’ inboxes.

    A good example would be from Jonathan Morrow, former Editor at Copyblogger, who wrote this powerful headline “Copyblogger Editor Admits to Sleeping with Readers and Recommends You Do the Same,” which really made a lot of people raise their eyebrows and immediately gained him a ton of new followers on Twitter!

    The words “admits” and “recommends” are just 2 simple choice of words, but when combined with other arrangement of words, no one could possibly resist the urge to click on it.


  • Use numbers – The use of numbers usually signals to subscribers that you are providing them with a list of steps or ideas that will be helpful or informative to them. Numbered lists are also much easier to scan on mobile devices. Take this email subject line for example, “10 Tips to Staying Lean Over Thanksgiving.”


  • Don’t be a slave to meaningless stats – You’ll find a lot of random stats about crafting subject lines out there, such as only use a certain amount of characters or only use odd numbers.

    Focus on creating a good subject line that conveys what the email is about first and foremost. You shouldn’t be counting the number of letters you use then trying to come up with different words in order to reduce your subject line by two letters.

    Even worse would be adjusting your content to fit a longer or shorter list to hit that magical number.

  • Pique the curiosity of your subscribers – Curiosity can be very powerful.

    For example, instead of creating a title like “Tips For Taking a Luxury Vacation,” you can create a title like “A Broke Girl’s Guide to a Luxury Vacation,” which is one of Refinery29’s email subjects.

    This piques the curiosity of your subscribers much more – of course you’ll have to deliver on that promise with your content. Another way to generate curiosity is through comparisons.

    For example, “How Writing Content Is Just Like Practicing Yoga.”


  • Create simple and effective headlines – It can be tempting to try and be clever, but this can also backfire. You should also avoid writing really long subject lines that don’t fit on the screen of a mobile device – because then the subscriber has no idea what your email is!

    A good example is DocuSign’s subject line, “What Are Our Customers Saying?” It’s short, it’s simple, it conveys exactly what the content is going to be about and it peaks the curiosity of the reader.

  • Subscribe to other experts in your industry – By subscribing to experts within your industry, you’ll be able to see how they craft their emails. This will allow you to see what is effective and help give you ideas and inspiration for your own email subject headlines.
  • For instance, Jay Baer is an American marketing consultant, global keynote speaker, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Youtility. Besides, his blog is ranked among the world’s top marketing resources and has a total of 159K followers on Twitter at present.


    When it comes to email marketing, optimizing your emails for mobile usage is definitely a must. Once you’ve done this, use the tips we have provided in order to help improve your email click through rate. The higher your email click through rate is, the better a chance you have at converting your leads.

Updated: 21 September 2019

Ben Seow

About Ben Seow

Ben Seow is an inbound copywriter who is constantly striving to get the best out of every technical SEO know-how. He is also hoping to transfer all the knowledge that he'd learnt to every newcomer through his own writing.

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