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Email optimization: How mobile views are changing click behavior

Posted by Bridget Fair on June 5, 2014

Successful email marketing campaigns rely on a cycle of continuous improvement. An ongoing process of measurement, analysis, testing and implementing learnings is the key to long-term success. Your email recipients are constantly evolving. New technology, devices and capabilities impact their expectations, behaviors and preferences, which directly affects email engagement. In the absence of testing, you can speculate about your email recipients but lack the conclusive data needed to drive creative strategy.

Testing provides behavioral data that leads to valuable customer insights which inform email creative and optimize the performance of your marketing emails. One of the most common and effective testing approaches is A/B testing. To run an A/B email test, your target audience should be split into random, equal-sized groups. Each group is assigned an email version. Depending on the goal of the test, email versions could feature completely different layouts or have just one particular element that varies – such as an image, color or call to action.

We recently conducted a welcome email A/B test that provided valuable insight into recipients’ changing behaviors driven by an increase in mobile views. This insight was then leveraged to enhance the creative and optimize email performance.

Welcome email A/B test
After tracking and analyzing welcome email recipient behavior over a number of years, we knew that the target audience was partial to clicking hyperlinks rather than response buttons. The welcome email layout accommodated those customer preferences and featured multiple, prominent hyperlinks throughout the email.

However, as mobile views gradually increased, customer click behavior began to change. By the time mobile opens reached 50% of total opens, more recipients were clicking on the response button positioned lower in the email, rather than the hyperlinks.

This change in behavior led us to hypothesize that, due to the increase in mobile usage, the majority of recipients were finding response buttons more user-friendly than hyperlinks. Therefore, we decided to test a prominent response button against a hyperlink to see if this would lead to more clicks, and ultimately more conversions.

Testing this hypothesis required only a simple change to the control email layout. The control email (Email A) featured a call-to-action hyperlink under the headline and Email B featured a response button with the exact same call to action.

Significant insight, significant results
In the end, 175% more welcome email openers clicked on the header response button in Email B than the hyperlink in Email A. Overall, 7% more welcome email openers drove to the login page. In addition, Email B drove a 3.9% increase in the click rate and 3.1% increase in the click-to-open rate.

Most importantly, Email B had 2.4% more conversions than the control Email A. At a 90% confidence interval, this lift constituted a statistically significant increase.

Considering the simplicity of the test and relatively small change to the welcome email layout, the results are quite impactful. In the end, this A/B test was a relatively cost- and time-effective method to drive a significant lift. It also provided insight into the evolving behavior of email recipients and what drives them to action—findings that can be leveraged to optimize other targeted marketing emails.

The success of your marketing emails weighs heavily on how well you understand your constantly changing audience—what they like, what they don’t like, what appeals to them and what makes them act. Over time, email recipients will respond differently to creative elements and messaging. Many factors affect their behavior. For example, mobile has greatly impacted how recipients experience email, and has altered their expectations and preferences, which directly affects email engagement. This is why successful email marketing relies so heavily on a disciplined process of measurement, analysis and testing to ensure long-term email optimization.


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Topics: Email Marketing

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