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What makes a small business customer click on a link when reading an email has been revealed. The latest research from Constant Contact, Inc. uncovers the ideal number of images and lines of texts small businesses should include in email marketing campaigns to optimize click-through rates. Compiled from the analysis of over 2.1 million Constant Contact customer emails sent to more than 100 recipients over the course of 13 weeks, the research finds that—with some industry-specific exceptions—emails with three or fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text result in the highest click-through rates from email subscribers.


“Click-through rates are perhaps the truest measurement of the quality of an email’s content and its effectiveness as a marketing tool,” said Christopher M. Litster, senior vice president, sales and marketing at Constant Contact. “Regardless of industry or customer base, click-through rates convey how often you are able to get your email subscribers to go where you want them to go and complete your call-to-action. This new research is a big step forward in helping small businesses craft email content that will result in even more successful campaigns going forward.”

Industry Deviations

Considering that many nonprofits have email subscribers who are volunteers or active members, nonprofits generally enjoy higher click-through rates from their email subscribers, many of whom also exhibit a preference for more text and images:
  • Association click-through rates don’t drop off as quickly as other industries, with click-through rates remaining consistent between 20 and 30 lines of text.
  • Membership organizations have an even broader range; click-through rates for those organizations are consistently high for those using between 15 and 30 lines of text.
  • Religious organizations saw little fluctuation in click-through rates based on the number of images.
This stands in contrast to the for-profit sector, where consumer expectations of different types of small businesses impact optimal click-through rates. For example:
  • Business product and services companies see the highest click-through rates in emails with between 13 and 16 images, presumably because email subscribers expect to see visuals of the products being offered by the company.
  • Restaurants and salons/spas can afford to test more images of menu items/services in their email campaigns: both industries have peak click-through rates in emails with 15 images.
  • Office supply companies are best served in keeping the text of emails concise, as click-through rates peak at 15 lines of text.
  • With listings a focal point of their email marketing campaigns, real estate agents and services see the highest click-through rates at around 35 lines of text.
  • Retail businesses have a very small window in terms of the number of lines of text that drive optimal click-through rates. Click-through rates improve over 50 percent between emails with 17 lines of text and 19 lines of text. Click-through rates then drop by 50 percent among emails between 19 lines of text and 21 lines of text.
“These findings further validate our ‘less-is-more’ hypothesis when it comes to crafting online marketing campaigns,” said Litster. “In today’s mobile-dominated society, consumers want content to be straightforward, concise, and easily readable on all screens. While small businesses in some industries can afford to test more images and lines of texts, and others less, generally by sticking to three images or less and about 20 lines of text, they can craft their email campaigns in confidence, knowing that they are optimizing click-through rates.” Last modified on Wednesday, 11 March 2015
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