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Study explores e-mail creative that works

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A study of b-to-b e-mail marketing messages by e-mail marketing company SilverPOP identified several creative elements that boosted open rates and click rates.

The study was based on an analysis of 147 e-mail campaigns sent by 115 b-to-b marketers between April and August. SilverPOP evaluated creative elements ranging from content in the subject line to the design format of e-mails.

One of the first places marketers can begin to use creative effectively is in the subject line, according to SilverPOP.

The study found that e-mails that included the company name or brand in the subject line had significantly higher open rates—32% compared with 20% for messages without the company name or brand in the subject line.

“This is highly reflective of the fact that the brand or the person who it’s from is what matters over the long term,” said Elaine O’Gorman, VP-strategy at SilverPOP. “When you treat your customers well and they anticipate your content, that drives open rates over the long term.”

Also important in b-to-b e-mails is the design format. SilverPOP studied various e-mail formats, including one column, two or more columns, letter format, postcard format and varied cell blocks.

It found that postcard-style and varied-cell e-mails received higher click rates (both had an average 7.9%) compared with the other formats, which each had an average of less than 5%.

Postcard-style e-mails contain a large single image, usually with a call to action, rather than columns of text. Varied cell e-mails have different size blocks of text and images.

The number of links in e-mails also impacts click rates, SilverPOP found.

While most b-to-b marketers included between one and three links in their e-mails, some included as many as 10, according to the study. The number of links resulting in the highest click rate was three. Adding more links can actually cause results to deteriorate, SilverPOP reported.

The study also examined the use of text and image links. It found that text-style links averaged click rates that were 2.6 percentage points higher than image-style links.

The study also found that for those b-to-b marketers that included an offer in their e-mail messages (roughly 60%), the top offers were a percentage off the purchase price, a dollar amount off the purchase price or a free gift.

Also, placing the call to action “above the fold”—on the top portion of the screen—resulted in higher click rates.

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