LaunchBit Blasts: can we improve your clicks & opens?

By Jennifer and Elizabeth

Last month, we wrote our first LaunchBit Blast, a competition where we see if we can beat newsletter publishers on engagement in their emails.  So, start your engines, we’re gearing up for LaunchBit Blast #2!

For this competition, the publisher wanted to compete in two ways:

  • Increase open rate
  • Increase click-through-rate
The Background 
The publisher sends out a digest-style newsletter that reports the most popular articles on their site from the last week.  They also use the newsletter to tell their subscribers about new features and to highlight users and discussions.  
Our Rocket Boosters

 

image credit: jurvetson

 

One of the first things that struck us was the sheer number of images in the publishers’ newsletter.  A typical issue had 70 images!!!  The average word count was roughly 125  words per issue.  Though spam filters are largely a black box, best practices ask for a healthy text-to-image ratio of 7:3.  Frankly, this is not an exact science, but we thought that it was plausible to improve engagement by reducing the number of images in the layout.  We decided to make these changes:

 

  • Slim down the newsletter by removing extraneous images
  • Increase the text-to-image ratio by using CSS wherever possible
  • Add alt text to all images
  • Move clickable items above the fold
  • Make the email easier to read by making it more list-like

 

Start your engines!
We split tested between the publisher’s layout and our version throughout January and randomly assigned half the list to their layout and the other half to ours.
image credit: Norlando Pobre

 

Game 1: Improving overall open rate

 

The publishers’ newsletter is represented by A, and ours is represented by B.  

 

After 4 weeks, the data shows that we were able to get higher opens overall. LaunchBit 3, Publisher 1.  

 

Game 2: Improving overall click-through-rate
These competitions are not rigged!  We tied in this battle.

 

 

LaunchBit 5, Publisher 3.  Overall, this was a challenging match for us, but we found that by slimming the newsletter, we were able to drive them more opens, possibly by reducing the susceptibility of the email from going into spam (though this is speculation).  Although an analysis of their open rates by email clients was inconclusive, for 3 of the 4 split test campaigns, our layout also yielded fewer spam complaints.  FINAL: LaunchBit 5, Publisher 3.

 

Takeaways 
At the close of this LaunchBit Blast, we recommended that publisher adopt our layout as a starting point for continued tweaking to increase click-through-rates.  
Who’s next?  
Email us to compete in a LaunchBit Blast: hello [at] newsletterdirectory [dot] co.  
  1. Hoi says:

    Curious to know how email design for image ratio would effect open rates? Surely this would impact CTR rather than open since the user may not even open the email to see the different design. The impact on open rate would have to be on the long tail as users know what the design would be and would be less/more inclined to open it knowing that there are more/less images?

    BTW, we’ve done similar A/B tests and discovered, less images increase CTR. Open rates more influenced by subject line.

    • Elizabeth Yin says:

      Hi Hoi — good question. Right, so while it is true that the user has not yet seen the inside of the emails prior to opening, we suspect that spam filters may ding your emails if you have too many images. If these spam filters do ding your emails, then readers would not have a chance to open, thus causing a lower open rate.

      Thanks for sharing your results on your experiments around images vs CTR — very interesting!

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