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We’re excited to finally share the results from our recent newsletter redesign! To recap, Part 1 of our series took a look at how marketing, design and code came together across multiple continents to envision a new look and format for our monthly mailer. Part 2 focused on the use of techniques like bulletproof buttons and responsive layouts, plus the challenges that come with the territory. In this 3rd and final chapter, we’ll be looking critically at the whether all this effort was “worth it.”

This post will share some of our learnings around:

  • Optimizing your primary call to action
  • The impact link placement has on things like social sharing
  • What happens “beyond the send,” and
  • Judging the performance of a redesign

Making the call-to-action king

Two things that both our previous and updated newsletter have in common are that they’re headlined by an image and a call-to-action (CTA) announcing the main thing we want that issue to communicate. So we decided to take a look at how these fared, by comparing the distribution of clicks from one announcement to the next. For example, here’s the header from our August 2013 newsletter:

August newsletter: Header and CTA

Now here’s the header from our November newsletter – also announcing a new feature release. Note the attention that the “See it in action” bulletproof button received:

November newsletter: Header and CTA

While the header images received roughly the same share of clicks between these versions, it’s the CTA that really saw a jump. While August’s “send more targeted campaigns” link nabbed 8.13% of total clicks, November’s “See it in action” button scooped up a whopping 32.22%! Clearly, updating our CTA to a button had an immediate impact on subscriber behavior.

Social sharing skyrockets

Another behavioral impact we looked at was how the redesign altered the likelihood of the newsletter being shared and forwarded. There were two reasons this mattered to us. First, we changed the location of the share & forward links from the top to the bottom of the message and were curious to see if placement made a difference. Second, shares can be used as a rough gauge of reader sentiment – if subscribers like the new design and content, they’ll be more likely to pass it on to their friends. So we wanted to look at social sharing behavior to determine whether our redesign struck a chord with our readers.

Tweets jumped up 16x, Facebook likes climbed 133%, and the number of forwards more than doubledIf November’s counts are anything to go by, then the facelift we gave our mailer was a huge success. Tweets generated directly from the newsletter link jumped up 16x, Facebook likes climbed 133%, and the number of forwards more than doubled from our average across the prior two sends. We were shocked: we assumed that moving those links to our footer would decrease clicks, not cause them to skyrocket. Perhaps having those links in a spot where they could be used after the newsletter had been fully read made for a better subscriber experience. Or perhaps it was simply a positive reaction to our redesign. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens with our December issue.

Beyond the inbox

Finally, the third thing we considered when weighing the results of our redesign was the reaction the broader design community had. By all measures, people really liked the November newsletter. We got some great shout outs on Twitter:

Then, our friends at Litmus featured a really great Q&A with Stig and Tim on the design and code techniques they used. Ever since, both these guys have been swamped with inquiries and praise – which may not be ideal for their work-life balance in the short term, but is certainly indicative of the interest our redesign generated.

And what about those core email metrics: open rate and click-through? When we started digging into those, we didn’t see a huge lift – both metrics remained steady. So despite our improvement in driving response to our central CTA; the incredible bump in social sharing; and the overall reaction from the community to the new Campaign Monitor newsletter, the question remains: was this redesign a success?

Our answer? Without a doubt, yes. The purpose of our newsletter is to engage with our subscribers, and by all accounts the redesign drove a deeper engagement. Had we looked only at open rate and click through, we’d be overlooking the true impact.

That wraps up our in-depth look at the impact of our redesign. If this series has made you curious about our newsletter, sign up and check it out.

Our key takeaways:

  1. Try using a button for your CTA – and make it the most standout feature in your design.
  2. Don’t automatically assume that placing things at the end or in the footer will decrease performance.
  3. Look beyond the inbox. Your newsletter may lead to further marketing opportunities.
  4. And above all else: consider the purpose of your newsletter when analyzing its performance. Sometimes, it makes sense to look at more than open rates or CTR!
This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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