Could you benefit from increasing your email click-through rate?

Campaign Monitor customer SitePoint recently ran some tests on one of their popular email newsletters and were able to repeatedly improve their click-through rates, whilst learning about their subscribers in the process.

In this post, we’ll share with you the story of how they used A/B testing to get a 32% increase in their email click-through rate, and how you can do the same for your campaigns.



Introducing Versioning

SitePoint are a huge believer in the power of email and have a sizeable roster of newsletters containing web design news and opinion delivered weekly and fortnightly.

Recently, they launched a new offering called Versioning. It’s a daily newsletter aimed at offering web developers all the news they need in a simple, attractive and well-written package.

The email was a deliberately stripped-back affair, with no headers, images or other extraneous elements. The idea was to offer as simple an experience as possible – just some links to interesting content and nothing else.

The first iteration looked like this:

But nearly 40 emails into the newsletter’s life, the design was starting to look a little plain, and they decided a re-design was in order.



The redesign process

SitePoint have always conducted A/B tests with Versioning, usually pitting two different subject lines against each other to try to maximize the number of email opens they receive each send.

So with a bit of experience under their belt, they decided to approach the re-design process the same way.

They used Campaign Monitor’s drag and drop email builder to test new designs against their original one to see which received the most clicks. Then, if a given design did well, they tested others against it until they found what worked best for their audience.

To help inform their decision making, they also asked readers to get back to them with their opinion on the new designs. This feedback helped them understand what people liked about each design, and help informed them on what they should test next.

They ran their design tests for an hour, used 50% of their audience as test subjects, and picked as a winner the template which received the most unique clicks.

Here’s how their 6-day testing process unfolded:

Day 1: Testing a new template

For the first test, SitePoint wanted to see if using an entirely new template would lead to big gains in conversions, and then use the data and customer feedback to understand what caused the change and what their next tests can be.

So they selected a new template from the library and used the email builder to create the campaign, and then A/B tested it against the original template. This is what the new email looked like:

The new template won the A/B test convincingly, receiving a 16% increase in click-through over the old template.

Interestingly however, the feedback from recipients on the new design was less supportive, with people questioning some of the color choices and the added frame around the content.

This told the SitePoint team that while redesigning the email was definitely resulting in improved conversions, perhaps the specific design they’d chosen wasn’t quite right.

Day 2: Testing images vs. no images

Versioning had always been a deliberately sparse email, and the team had purposely avoided including images alongside content as they felt it wouldn’t resonate with their audience.

However, like all good marketers, they knew testing was the only way to validate their assumptions.

So in the next version of the email (sent out the very next day), they decide to test whether including images alongside content would increase the email’s click-through rate.

Turns out their original assumption was correct, as the variation with images ended up reducing conversions by 3%.

They also received some negative feedback on the image variation as well, with people preferring a simpler email that focused on the content.

Day 3: Switching templates

Learning from the results and feedback of the first two tests, the SitePoint team knew that a redesign would increase conversions if they got it right, but that images and the first template weren’t resonating with their audience.

So for the next email, they listened to their subscriber’s feedback and chose a new template from the library. This time they opted for something that had a plain white background, no borders or boxes around the content & beautiful typography that would draw attention to the content.

This version of the email looked a bit like this:

The new template outperformed the old one in their A/B tests, giving SitePoint a 5% increase in conversions. It also resonated better with their subscribers, who gave much more positive feedback on the new template.

Day 4: Testing different header styles

With such a positive result in Day 3, the SitePoint team decided to take the new template and run with it.

However, they were a little unsure about the header they’d designed. Should it have both the logo and the header image? Or would it perform better with just the logo?

The only way to answer that question is to test, so they built two variations of the next email. Variation A had both the header logo and the hero image, while variation B had only the logo.

Here’s what it looked like:

Not surprisingly, given what they had learned about their audience in previous steps, the stripped back variation with just the logo won the test, increasing conversions by another 13%.



The redesigned newsletter

At the end of their testing, SitePoint’s email newsletters had gone through several revisions and had transformed from this:

to this:

Not only have they seen a significant increase in click-throughs as a result of these tests, but the new design is resonating with their subscribers as well. Some of the feedback they received includes:

  • ‘I like this new design. It’s bigger and easier to read on my device’
  • “I have to say, this looked amazing on my iPhone. Great newsletter – I’m hella getting into it :D”


How you can get a similar result in your own emails

In the past, conducting A/B tests at this speed would have been close to impossible. SitePoint would have had to code each different design as a new template and spend hours testing it to ensure it looked great on all devices.

These days however, marketers like you can use tools like Campaign Monitor to make this kind of testing really easy.

You simply select the template you want to use, drag and drop your content to where you want it to be, set it up as an A/B test and click send.

Within hours you’ll have actionable data on what variation performed better, and you can use that data and insight to optimize your very next campaign.

Do this over a couple of campaigns and, just like SitePoint, you’ll also be able to significantly increase your email click-through rate.



In conclusion

A/B testing your email campaigns is a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing and drive increased sales & revenue.

With tools like Campaign Monitor’s drag and drop email builder, it’s really easy for marketers like you to create different variations of your campaigns and see what works best for your audience.

So start A/B testing your email campaigns today. You might just find you get a significant increase in conversions like SitePoint did.

Start A/B testing your email campaigns

Increase your click-through rate by using Campaign Monitor's drag-and-drop email builder to A/B test your campaigns.