Article first published March 2013, updated February 2019.
Folks like us regularly trumpet on about featuring relevant or catchy copy, but sometimes, it takes a little bit more than just words to get subscribers to engage with your email newsletters. While offering incentives like guides and blog posts can be great for channelling extra clicks, how effective are they, really?
Our metrics-minded friends at Bluewire Media recently decided they’d take the uncertainty out of their content strategy, by running a series of marketing experiments on what kind of content generated the most click-throughs. The methodology was simple – each week, they sent a newsletter to over 6,300 subscribers, featuring a useful resource, like a template, e-books or blog post, alongside their regular news. Following each send, they collected and compared the results, to determine which resource had been deemed most valuable.
Useful content comes out on top
While it’s hardly surprising, the offers that generated the most clicks were templates and eBooks, being items that helped their subscribers (mostly marketers and content creators) with their jobs. They observed:
Resources like templates and tools bring the house down compared to any other email offers. Our most popular downloads are the Editorial Calendar Template with a click through rate of 34.5% and the Content Marketing Checklist at 26.2%.
Do you believe your industry or brand isn’t one to create eBooks? Look no further than to Flywheel, a company that manages online WordPress migrations and may have started with the same hesitation.
However, they do an incredible job of offering additional resources to their customers. Take a look at this email that features their line of eBooks that cover topics from blogging to business:
Image: Really Good Emails
When it comes to templates, the sky is the limit, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Simply think about who your customers are and the templates they could benefit from in their lives or business.
Look to Design Files’ announcement of new design templates for inspiration:
Image: Really Good Emails
Notice how both of these emails feature streamlined design and specifically spotlight the additional content resources that they’re offering. After all, this study shows that’s the biggest value-add to these emails!
While a common source of newsletter content, blog posts only attracted half as many clicks as the downloads that Bluewire included in their tests, attracting a 5-14% click-through rate.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on blog post email content—You should just fine-tune it, do some testing, and see what works for you. For example, Morning Brew is an email newsletter that has done a really great job of keeping content-centric emails bite-size and easy-to-consume.
Minimalistic and clean design keeps the reader’s attention on the most important part—the copy.
Content marketing : Is it worth the effort?
Of course, creating things like templates takes time, effort and expertise, so how do you justify such an investment? Potentially by having markedly better results than you would otherwise have, say if you were to put a just-passable amount of care into your campaigns. Again, from Bluewire:
“Industry-average click through rates are 4%… (our) click through rates range from 9.8% to 34.5% and typically average 20+%”
Receiving five times more clicks than other marketing-industry newsletters isn’t too shabby a result, especially if lead generation is your thing. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Bluewire’s resources fit into a bigger inbound marketing strategy; by sharing their knowledge, Bluewire not only presents themselves as domain experts, but makes their site a must-visit destination for anyone who needs a helping hand with their own marketing. So in short, they’re not only incentivizing engagement with their newsletters, but are also creating valuable resources for both keeping existing clients and roping in new ones.
Many thanks to cool customers Bluewire for sharing their results – if you’re keen to find out exactly what content did and didn’t work, check out their blog post. Finally, we’re keen to hear about your content strategy—what offers, articles or giveaways have been successful in your newsletters? Let us know in the comments below.