How to improve your click rate in email marketing

By Citizen Affiliate | Email Marketing

Jul 25
improve email click rates marketing

Everyone knows the money is in the list – but not everyone knows that it is actually in the quality of your email list and your relationship with your subscribers. There isn’t much point in having an email list if nobody opens your emails or clicks on your links! Luckily I have put together a guide that shows you a bunch of ways to improve your click rates. So let’s find out how to boost your click rates, which means more traffic and sales!

Why improving your click rate is important

Sending some value emails is good, but a lot of your email marketing will be about promotions. And even your value emails will often be directing people to resources like your blog or website articles. So click rates are hugely important.

In today’s world where people are subscribed to a hundred lists left right and center, is is very hard to get a share of people’s attention.

Get people to optin (single vs double)

The most important thing to do is to build the initial relationship with your subscribers, and the best way to do that is getting them to opt in. You might think that all email addresses on a list would have opted in, but that’s not true.

People sometimes do list purchases or list swaps. These might seem like nice quick hacks to build up a list, but it is not a good way to start off a relationship with your leads.

If people have opted in to your email list via a newsletter signup or lead magnet offer, they will be much more likely to open, read and click links in your emails.

If you haven’t figured out how to get opt-ins, check out my article on lead magnets for ideas.

Do a good subject line (use curiosity, urgency / FOMO, ask questions, use emojis, short)

A good subject line will not only encourage people to open your email, but will also encourage them to click the links inside. And if they don’t open it in the first place, they obviously won’t be clicking any links. So subject lines are very important for both open and click rates in email marketing.

Doing good email subject lines is a whole topic in itself. But  here are some tips for improving your email subject lines.

  • Use curiosity such as open questions or strange and cryptic comments (“Did you see what they did?” “Want to know about the time I got slapped by a monkey?”).
  • Suggest a sense of urgency or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) (“Last chance to get these bonuses”, “This offer finishes tonight”)
  • Ask questions to your readers (“Want to know a shortcut to growing your list?”, “Have you seen this offer yet?”)
  • Include emojis or symbols to make it more eye-catchy and fun
  • Make them short so they can be scanned quickly

Sender name (person from org)

This is a classic mistake that a lot (a LOT) of people make – they don’t change the From name for their emails. So if they are sending it from, the From of the email is by default just going to be

The problem is, that just doesn’t work. Studies have shown that people are much more likely to open and interact with an email if they feel that it comes from a real person, rather than a generic company email account.

You also want to keep it branded and connected to your business or service, of course. So the best practice here is to change the From name for your emails to be “Name from Business”. So my emails for example are all send from “Leon from Citizen Affiliate”.

It’s a simple but surprisingly effective change that will really lift the click rates on your emails.

Preview text

You can also choose to show some preview text that will show up underneath or next to the subject line in certain email clients. An important one is the Gmail app for iPhone and Androids – you can see a bit of text underneath the subject line.

By default, this is just the first sentence of the email body. But you might want to tweak that. You can think of it is a sort of “second subject line” – some extra text to entice people to read the email. And that might not be the first sentence of your email body.

If your email auto-responder like GetResponse allows it, try putting in a line of preview text that follows the rules for good subject lines above. You might be happily surprised at the results.

Good formatting

Nobody is going to read or interact with your emails if they look sloppy or are difficult to read. So make sure they look great!

First, check your email formatting in mobile and tablet viewports. Any decent autoresponder will let you preview your emails as if they are being seen in a smaller screen.

Check this before you hit the Send button on those emails! The last thing you want is an email that can’t be seen or interacted with on a phone, which could be half or more of your audience.

Make sure the content is easily scannable and readable too. Your font size should be pretty big, with lots of paragraph breaks and headings to break up long blocks of text.

Try to use some images too, but not too many, and make sure they are quality and relevant to your message.

With practice, you will quickly be able to see what formatting works and what doesn’t. Keep testing, iterating and improving.


marketing segment

It is important to segment your email list

Sending the same emails to everyone is a sure-fire way to get bad responses. Different people are interested in different things!

So segment your list. Use tags, groups or segments (whatever is relevant in your auto-responder) to carve up your list into chunks.

Then you can send the most relevant emails to the relevant segments. For example, I have different tags applied to subscribers based on what lead magnet they signed up for, then I send emails to people with those tags based on that lead magnet.

So if someone signs up for my guide on how to start a blog, they go into a sequence of emails that are all related to blogging, SEO and web traffic.

If someone gets my guide to growing on Instagram, I send them email after email about Instagram tools, guides and tricks.

This is pretty simple but not a lot of people do it and it will not only increase your open and click rates, but decrease your unsubscribe and complaint rates too. And that is important to building up your account health with your email provider.


If you have some personal information on your audience, such as their first name and location, you can put that information into your emails. A common tactic here is to begin the emails with “hey” and the first name of the subscriber.

This can increase open and click rates, but you have to be careful. For starters, collecting first name at the point of opt-in (and you are getting your subscribers from opt-ins, right?) will decrease your conversion rate, because it is adding friction to the sign-up process.

Secondly, if something goes wrong, then you can end up with embarrassing emails I sometimes get, that start “Hi {FIRSTNAME}”!

That is not a good look at all. So you need to apply some caution here.

Get the email send time right

People open emails at different times, but apparently from 8pm to midnight in the local timezone is the best time for getting a good response from subscribers.

Some email auto-responders like GetResponse actually have a neat feature that will adjust the sending time of the emails for each person in your list so they arrive at the best time for that person’s timezone. Neat!

Sender reputation

If you are following good practices, cleaning up your lists and maintaining a good relationship with your list, then your auto-responder will like you too. They will keep your services running on their premium IP addresses (they run their services across many servers) and will help you ensure your emails get to where they are supposed to.

Basically, if you do the right thing by them, they will do the right thing by you. So follow good practices and keep your list healthy and up to date. Don’t be afraid to clean out the non-openers.

Include a sender photo in the email

Email isn’t just about text. Part of building a good relationship with your subscribers is putting a face to the name. So create a simple logo that includes your face. This goes a long way to not just making an impression but also getting people to think about and remember you.

If you aren’t completely happy with sharing a photo of you to people on the internet, get someone on Fiverr to produce a cartoon caricature of your face for a few bucks. Lots of people do this and it works a treat!

Don’t forget social media links

social media links

Adding social media links will improve your click rate

Adding social media share buttons has been shown to increase email click rates by over 100%! I find that hard to believe but there you go. And they will help your content be shared and maybe go viral.

So add them in or you are leaving clicks and therefore money on the table! Most email services have a simple way to add these automatically to the footer of your emails.

Strong call to action

Probably the single most important factor in click rate is having a strong compelling call to action. There are a few components to this, but a few tips to get you started:

  • Make the call to action relevant to the email and your audience. Don’t ask people to visit your article on dog training to your fitness email list!
  • Use words that directly connect the call to action to the reader. One simple way to do this is to use the word “my” instead of “your” – e.g. “Get my cheatsheet” instead of “Get your cheatsheet”
  • Make the primary call to action a button rather than a link – they convert better.
  • Make the button text simple and directly related to the subject and body of the email
  • Place a link (going to the same URL) just below the button that explains the call to action in a bit more detail. For example, if you send an email with a subject and body that talks about an SEO cheatsheet, then your button text would be “Get my cheatsheet”, with a link below the button saying “See our 20 tips to increasing on-page SEO performance” or similar.

Give people a reason to act e.g. discounts or coupon codes

Just offering people value might not be enough to get them clicking. So see what else you can throw into the mix. Try giveaways, offering bonuses or discount coupon codes to get them really interested.

Be careful though – if you do this all the time, people will expect it every time and you will have trained them to only act if you are offering them a bribe. So use it sparingly.

Multiple links

Put two or three links / buttons in your emails to give people a few chances. Putting one at the very end in a “P.S.” paragraph can be effective, because some people quickly skip all the way to the end of the email. Just don’t overdo it. Some email services like Gmail don’t like it when you put a lot of links in an email, and it could increase the chance you’ll end up in the dreaded Promotions or Spam folders.

Test everything

Don’t forget to test! Check your emails before they go out (not in a preview window, actually send a test email and open it on your computer and on a phone to make sure it looks right).

And try different things in your emails. More images or less, shorter subject lines or longer ones. For even better results, run continuous A/B tests (if you have a big enough list to get a statistically significant sample, e.g. 1000 or more people) and refine as you go.

Resend to non-opens

This is an old trick to increase opens but this will increase click rates too: re-send your emails (with a slightly different subject line) to people who haven’t opened your email within a 24 hour period.

Just be careful, this could annoy people and increase unsubscribes. So keep an eye on your numbers and stop doing this if people start leaving your list.

Clean your list

This last point is crucial. You need to keep your list healthy and in good condition. Your subscribers, your auto-responder and your business will all benefit from this.

Every week or so, clean out all the people who haven’t been opening and clicking your emails. How strict you want to be with this is up to you. Aweber suggests flushing out people who haven’t engaged with your content in six months, but I feel that is way too lenient.

I actually remove everyone who hasn’t opened in the last two weeks. I send an email every day, at least, and if someone hasn’t even opened an email in the last 14 days, I’ve obviously failed to build a connection with them.

We will both be better off if we end the relationship. One thing to consider is whether you want to retain the email address. You can unsubscribe them rather than delete them.

The reason for this is that you can later on add the list of email addresses to Facebook to build a retargeting audience (and/or a lookalike audience based on that retargeting audience). So keeping the email addresses around could be valuable if you are interested in Facebook advertising.


I hope you found these tips for improving your click rate useful! Let me know in the comments if you can think of any others.

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