3 Tips For More Clicks and Website Traffic

Sometimes our email marketing campaigns are focused on a single goal, aiming the entire message at driving to a specific landing page.

Other times when our purpose is more general, it makes a lot of sense to take a broader approach, aiming to get our subscribers back to nearly *anywhere* on our website. We can let them choose their own adventure from there, hoping they’ll eventually complete a site goal (e.g. ordering, membership sign up, etc.).

For those times, here are 3 techniques that could significantly boost your click through rates back to your website:

Include Some Website Navigation Links

Screenshot of newsletter with website navigation links

If your site uses a navigation bar, most likely every page of your website contains those links in a predictable place, allowing visitors to select from at least a few things that might catch their interest, so why not experiment with adding them to your email newsletter?

Adding links to the most popular sections of your website in a consistent way across all messages might bring more overall traffic to your site.

As Chris Lovejoy points out, even if the specific topic of your newsletter doesn’t speak to someone, they may be interested in checking out more general (or specific) information section at your website.

Great tip, and definitely worth a split test.

Link More of Your Text

Screenshot of newsletter with a lot of text links

It’s called “the web” for a reason. Most websites aren’t structured hierarchically or in a linear way where a single page leads to just one other page, which leads to another, and so on.

Instead, pages are linked together from one another in a web, where a single page can link to many others, and many others pages can link to a single one.

A single email can link to several pages in this same way.

Hyperlinking Contextual Words and Phrases

The -> Click here < - type of linking strategies have gone out of fashion in favor of more relevant and contextual approaches involving words and phrases found directly within the paragraphs of the content (often strategically placed).

You probably already do this to some extent on your web pages. Have you ever tried this out in your emails with your headings and paragraph text?

Link Your Images to Relevant Web Pages

Screenshot of newsletter with linked images

This tip is like icing on the cake, and because plain text messages are just that — plain-text — it’s an option only available to those of us sending HTML versions of our newsletters.

If you are sending in HTML, take a look the images in your messages. Readers’ eyes are naturally drawn towards them, and often times, so are their mouse pointers.

So, the difference between them seeing a Mouse pointer (non hyperlinked) or Clickable pointer (hyperlinked) pointer can ultimately make a minor or sometimes a significant difference in the click through rates for your campaigns.

It is especially important to link your logo, which people tend to expect is directed to your homepage, whether its seen on your website or in your email.

Related Resources

The above tips are for the established newsletter sender who already has a regular flow of traffic to their website. Not there just yet? Here are a couple of Knowledge Base articles that could help you out:

How Can I Drive Traffic to My Website?
How Do I Put Links/URLs in Messages?

What Works Best For You?

Have you experimented with different tactics and strategies to drive traffic to your website using email marketing? I know I haven’t covered them all, so I hope you’ll join the discussion.

Become a Better Email Marketer

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49 Comments

  1. Back in 2005 or so there was a study done showing that emails having more than 20 or so links get far more click-thrus than emails having less links.

    In my html newsletters I link to articles on my site. I have the article title, a summary, an image and a URL link. I link the title of each article, the URL of each article and the image for each article to the full article on my site.

    I also found several years ago that even though I send in dual format (html and text) some people were viewing my html newsletters as text. When the only link I used was the title (without a copy-able URL) I was losing traffic. Now I supply both–even in an html newsletter.

    5/2/2008 1:50 pm
  2. wow, thanks for the tips. I do this quite a bit with my websites and blogs but I hadn’t thought about this for email. duh!

    5/3/2008 9:00 am
  3. I’m a little bit worry that this get’s too smammy.

    I hate long emails and to include in a average
    300 word mail 20 hyperlinks looks a little bt too
    salesy for me.

    Just my opinion.

    5/4/2008 6:56 pm
  4. Guido,

    I wouldn’t put that many links in a promo email, just in a newsletter.

    Here is a sample:

    http://www.fulltiltmarriage.com/news/

    I think you’ll see how the links work well with the content.

    5/5/2008 10:38 am
  5. Email campaigns are very important, and so is content and linkage.

    5/6/2008 9:08 am
  6. Aaron,

    Thanks for pointing out this important distinction. This tactic should apply to email messages where we’re taking a general approach (e.g. what is typically found in newsletters) rather than one with a specific call to action we don’t want to distract from.

    Again, I implore you to think of how you design your webpages. On many pages, you link around to lots of other pages on and off your site. You want to allow visitors to "choose their own adventure" (sorry if I’m being redundant).

    On the other hand, you might also design landing pages, order pages, and other pages where too many options are detrimental, and you’ll want to minimize the number of links that could take people away from the main goal.

    If this article and these great comments leave you with anything, I hope it’s that we should be looking at trying different approaches for different situations in our emails. This is the best way to learn more about our subscribers and to learn email best practices first-hand. As educated and experienced marketers, we’ll get better results.

    5/6/2008 12:20 pm
  7. Thanks for the tips.

    5/6/2008 8:00 pm
  8. Links are very important but I also see Guido’s point that it could look too spammy.

    Here is a tip:
    Make the links a lighter colour so that they don’t stand out as much.
    This way the links are still there just not in your face as much.

    5/6/2008 11:56 pm
  9. Rob

    Isn’t some of this overcome by just using a simple e-mail which only has a click through to the article on the site.

    I’d say that there was an argument on both sides here. I notice that the AWeber mail that I clicked through on was a short e-mail which was designed to lure me onto their site. Good strategy, because I probably wouldn’t have bothered to respond to this post otherwise.

    An e-mail which delivers the whole message has the advantage of being immediate and capable of entertaining, whereas a click through suggests that the target has already decided that the message from the sender is likely to be interesting.

    Does anyone else have an opinion on click through vs In your face marketing?

    5/7/2008 5:42 am
  10. In marketing emails I tend to use short emails that create curiosity or have some other emotional incentive to click through to the site. For marketing I find this generates the highest number of click throughs leading to purchase.

    In newsletters/credibility building emails I use article teasers with links to several articles in an html format. I follow this up with a brief text email teasing the newsletter in general. I have found over the years this combination to create the greatest number of click throughs.

    5/7/2008 6:51 am
  11. Personally I skim thru the long emails, if there are too many links which become a distraction – I just delete the entire letter.

    A shorter email with repetition of the same link
    2 or 3 times will convince me to click on the link.

    Don’t confuse me with too many options
    The mind confused moves on.

    5/7/2008 8:13 am
  12. I tend to use one link in the email, plus another in the signature (which is always the same and the one I use in my personal emails, too).

    Click-throughs: I don’t measure them, for a couple of reasons. I’ve found the fact you’ve got click-though tracking on means some people won’t click when they would otherwise. It’s a case of the measurement actually affecting the experiement.

    To be honest, the style of marketing I use is rather more transformational than transactional: meaning, I sell my readers on "me" by a process of education and relationship building. Plus email-only marketing is vastly overrated. Too many business rely on the Internet as their sole source of customers; hell, they treat the Internet as a business all of its own, when really it’s nothing more than a medium.

    Sigh… probably got off track there.

    5/7/2008 8:20 am
  13. CEO

    Great feedback and article.
    Something is missing….. what works for me is to post our newsletter on the site. Even with HTML/text links some people may not see it correctly so creating that option is an excellent way to allow people who may be at work or in other parts o the country to see the HTML and add trafic to your site. I am reworking one of our sites where we event have a archive of our newsletters.

    SALES
    My ultimate goal is to convert traffic to sales so if it is a email about music we sell etc. I will have a ton of links on HTML/Text with a link to view the newsletter on the site.

    People love simple options with a lot o variety,,,yet not too much!

    INFO/NEWSLETTER
    Depending on the amount of news we can send out the suggestions to link to title I think would be best. People have short attention spans in our drive thru society. Give them simple options.

    5/7/2008 8:46 am
  14. Rob

    AWeber just sent me another e-mail inviting me to join this discussion. (See above I already have:-).

    The interesting thing here is that this new e-mail was absolutely littered with links, most of which just didn’t hit the subconcious. I did click through the most prominant one, and them realised that I had been nabbed. Now I have clicked through on both e-mails although I have to say that I read more of the earlier shorter post than the current one.

    Any statistics coming out of this could easily be skewed. After all, did I click through on the second e-mail because the link I chose was the most prominant one, or did I click through because it has loads of links… I don’t think it was because of the second option but unless you ask everyone who clicked though nonone will know how effective the ‘mass link’ version was.

    5/7/2008 8:48 am
  15. On my regular email I keep only three links as not to over load the person that I send email to, I offen modify it according to who the reciever is and the thought of what they might be interested in most.
    In email marketing campaigns I use a short creative to link back to a sign up page to my news letter or a splash page to a promotion that I am running.

    5/7/2008 8:54 am
  16. Just like reading blogs. I prefer to read emails with content which eventually leads you to clicking the links. :)

    5/7/2008 9:02 am
  17. Lots of good comments already on this, thanks!

    One thing I find curious is email messages which try to straddle the fence – they try get the clickthrough near the top of the email, but also go on to be quite long, sometimes with a bunch of links interspersed, sometimes with just one or two more near the end.

    Rob,

    Thanks for the input on what tactic works for you when it comes to inducing a click through on an email. (Though you did click through on both, which I suppose suggests they can both work.)

    BTW, how did you get that 2nd email? Did you get it at a different address? I suppressed blog subscribers from the customer newsletter (at least, I thought I did).

    Jon,

    Interesting point about measurement affecting response – I’m curious: have you tested whether this is equally true for both text and HTML? i.e. split test a "text-looking" HTML message where you link up text so the subscriber doesn’t see the tracking URL in the body of the email. If you did test this, what did you find?

    5/7/2008 9:22 am | Follow me on Twitter
  18. There’s an interesting distinction that has yet to be made here.

    Some emails have a lot of links that go to all different pages.

    Other emails have a lot of links that go to a single destination.

    (The aweber one we clicked through from to get here had… five prominent text links to get to this page… one un-compelling text link to another site… and one text link in the signature to the aweber main page… plus the obligatory links in the bottom for legal/customer service purposes and the linked image in the header).

    It’s been my experience that emails with a single objective (like the one we all just got from aweber) get the best response — although you can have multiple call to actions (links) pointing your reader to fulfilling that objective.

    I often break this rule when doing something like a newsletter… but ultimately if I want to give myself the best odds of response, my choice is to define a single objective or goal page for the email, and link to it multiple times throughout the text of the email.

    If you try to create too many goals for your readers, they’re more likely than not to fail at accomplishing a single one.

    That’s my two cents… be interested to hear anyone else’s perspective on this distinction.

    5/7/2008 9:22 am
  19. These are real people we are dealing with. Unless the beginning of your e-mail holds their attention no matter how many links you have will not not make them read on. Be a friend first. The longer it takes to get to a point the less likely a person will continue to read.

    5/7/2008 9:31 am
  20. I think it is important to differentiate by the type of email you are sending.

    If it is an email newsletter, then I say use pretty much the same linking strategy as you would for an online newsletter (which I favor as being much more flexible). Email newsletters are limited by size.

    The other type of email is one in which you have just one purpose in mind, and that is to get the reader to go to your website. You can’t "sell" in an email, but you can promote and encourage the action of clicking on a link.

    Regardless of the number or type of links you have, each and every one of those should go to the same place on your website, and that is where the sales pitch is located.

    Every image in the email should also be linked to that sales page.

    I will probably get some argument about not being able to sell in an email so I offer a single argument: How do you take a credit card in an email? :-)

    Take care, be safe, have fun!

    5/7/2008 9:42 am
  21. The only problem I have seen by putting in 3 or more links in my newsletters is that spam engines, hotmail, AOL and comcast block or place the e-mails in a spam box, or they just disappear ( though all denie this happens ). Any comments here?

    5/7/2008 9:48 am
  22. @Jon,

    When I track links I don’t use obvious tracking links, I create a folder on my site to do the tracking then redirect to the proper page. It’s a little more time consuming but it avoids the problem you mention.

    @Roy,

    If I send an email designed to create interest and to build my expertise, I may link to several articles (as in my newsletter example above.) When I am wanting to get peopel to a sales message, I will have a single link, usually once in the body of the email, once at the very end in a PS.

    My goals for each are different and each is designed to create a different response.

    @Richard,

    Good point–you can’t take a CC in an email! That pretty much ends the argument, huh?

    @Ted,

    Using many links in my newsletters has not had a significant impact on my deliverability. Most newsletters I send are at a 1.0 or less Spam Assassin score. It seems to be far more important to avoid certain phrases that are "catch phrases" for spam as well as sending in dual format rather than HTML only. Aweber makes it simple to do all of these plus see your score.

    5/7/2008 10:09 am
  23. Hi,

    Thanks to anti-spam things, most of the emails in my inbox are ‘important’ ones from clients, partners and friends but there are still dozens every day.

    If you produce a newsletter that appears very helpful to me in achieving my objectives, you will also get a coveted spot in my inbox, after I voluntarily sign-up.

    However, I have less time and attention to spare every day.

    Some of the newsletters I receive contain many links and some just a note with a link, or maybe a few links sprinkled in the email that all point to the same place (like the Aweber one to this conversation).

    I find that I hardly even read the ones with lots of links and frequently unsubscribe from them but if someone – even an otherwise complete stranger in a newsletter – just drops me a quick line with a useful link that says ‘come and take a look at this one thing that’s really related to what you’re doing’ – I click through a lot.

    I find this analogous to all of those friends’ emails full of powerpoint presentations, youtube video clips and jokes that you absolutely must read.

    I barely look at emails from these friends when the subject line starts with "Fwd: Fwd: …" and many of them get deleted.

    When a friend who doesn’t forward rubbish sends me a link, I gladly click on it – just because it’s from them and they’ve thought of something specific which they believe will be useful to me.

    Anyone interested in this topic should also check out a guy called Barry Schwartz and his ideas on the paradox of choice:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/93

    5/7/2008 10:24 am
  24. In my testing, I’ve seen that inclusion of the same link 3-5 times in the email yields very good results in comparison to only 1 or 2 links.

    Additionally, including a visible link at the very top of the e-mail has increased our click-thru rates significantly. For some reason, it appears that some people simply click the first link they see, and this technique plays to that tendency.

    5/7/2008 11:16 am
  25. The amount of links is secondary to how does it reflect on your brand. If you have an editorial piece and you want to link to an external site then you’re building someone else’s awareness and showing that they are the definitive resource on that subject. Why not create a link to your site with an excerpt from the article on a discussion board page? Why not offer a commentary on the article from your website where you dissect the information? It may be time consuming to the latter but it still positions you as a resource worth trusting. I think the other thing is that you can create links on your site that contain editorial references as well as sales opportunities connected to the content and an authentic way so you’re not coming across as too salesy.

    5/7/2008 11:31 am
  26. Three things come to mind here.

    Ad copy giving focus to benefits rather than features is key.

    Seth Godin had an nice blog post about Owen Wilson and how he might or might not plug his movie. It goes like this…

    Watch this because I’m in it
    vs.
    I’m in it because you’ll enjoy watching it.

    Or,

    I published a book so I need you to read it
    vs.
    There’s something you need to read, so I wrote about it.

    Or

    I’m fifty and I just made an album because it was time for me to make one.
    vs.
    These songs won’t let go of me and I want to share them with you because they matter.

    I read this everytime I write an email expecting a click thru, it helps me change my focus from what I want to a reader benefit focus.

    Create a little mystery as to what is there. Do you know why some guys are really successful with women? They don’t try too hard. Does your email try too hard?

    Using one link that leads to a well written sales letter or landing page that is focused on what you want your reader to do, buy or sign up to another list is the way I go.

    I see many marketers use the same URL at the top of the email, again in the middle and then at the end, especially in long sales letter type emails.

    Only testing will tell and AWeber’s split test feature is what you want to use to test this.

    Every list, product and website has different demographics and user preferences, so only testing will tell.

    Hope this helps.

    5/7/2008 11:47 am
  27. So far, it sounds like most commenters favor sending email messages with a minimal amount of links. In cases where we have a specific action we want subscribers to take (ie. promotional email), I couldn’t agree more.

    However, I think there are benefits to buffering promotional messages that say "go here!" with ones that are a little less salesy and allow subscribers to seek out what they find interesting.

    For those who send them, these messages are typically sent as newsletters. I think that for these types of messages, where the main goal is to keep our subscribers engaged and a secondary goal is to get more traffic to our websites — overall traffic, not one or two specific pageviews — including contextual hyperlinks that are subtle and don’t read like "click here" or "do this" calls to action can be very beneficial.

    This is what I advocate in my article, but I’m glad to see such a wide range of opinion on the matter. It just goes to show it’s something well-worth thinking about, and as Chris so rightly points out is well-worth testing.

    Thanks for all the great comments so far. Can’t wait to hear more of your feedback!

    5/7/2008 12:49 pm
  28. Ryan

    In our newsletters, we promote new products on the site and include interesting information on promotions, etc. We put in DOZENS of links. In the newsletter, I link a given product page on the product headline, a picture of the product, in the text and in a "Read more about this" bolded text. We promote 5-10 new products per newsletter. We get big traffic to our on-blog promotions, etc. too.

    Our open rates are around 65-80% – list is in the 10Ks. Our Clicks average around 40%. We experience a 2-3X increase in sales the day after our newsletter.

    I think that the idea that the number of links relates to the number of clicks is way off base. I think the number of opens and clicks you get is far more influnced by how well you relate to your customers in your copy and how well you’ve aligned your offer to your buyer. If you don’t have anything of substance or are vague about your target, your results will be subpar. We are very targeted and very "zero-ed in", so I prefer to give them more opportunities to act – more links.

    5/7/2008 12:57 pm
  29. I’ll typically use one link and have found short, sweet text emails to work best. But once in awhile I’ll use multiple links to multiple sites and get multiple sales.

    5/7/2008 1:27 pm
  30. @Bryan,

    Interesting point–I’ve never tried putting a link at the top of an email before I explained what it was about. I’ll test it. Thanks.

    5/7/2008 1:49 pm
  31. Ryan,

    Wow! Of all the posters, YOURS is the comment that I saved in a dedicated document.

    I would really like to see your newsletter.

    What I’ve done in the past is to email an article, but have
    three links to other articles right underneath the header
    of the enclosed article. There is a one line description of
    each article. I include the links again at the
    end of the email.

    Click through rates are 67% on one of the three articles once
    the email itself is opened.

    Hope this helps someone.

    5/7/2008 2:12 pm
  32. One of my challenges was getting subscribers of my newsletter over to my blog, and then leaving comments when they arrived. I’ve experienced success by doing the following:

    1. Rather than just urge readers to visit my blog with a link to the home page of the blog, I’ve listed three blog titles with links to the posts that are most related to the topic of that newsletter issue. That has worked like a charm. Readers always click the specific related titles.

    2. To get more comments on my blog I put a request on the last lesson of an e-course asking subscribers to post a review of the course over on my blog. Everyone who did got a free report. Not only have the comments increased, but by asking for a review of the course I got quality comments that I can use as testimonials on my website, newsletter and blog.

    5/7/2008 3:32 pm
  33. Hi All,

    I agree with Christine McIvor – "Make the links a lighter colour so that they don’t stand out as much"

    OR…..Not have that Long Link String, have a simple -

    "Button"

    or

    "Visit Here"

    "View Here"

    "Visit, See or Go Here For Further Details"

    (If idea/similar idea is implemented give us a select option of more such cloaked/short strings)

    This would be less aggressive to reader and would also cloak the links for us.

    Best Regards

    5/7/2008 3:42 pm
  34. We are launching the Interdependent Project which is an organization dedicated to the sustainability movement and we plan on not having too many links in our newsletters because we want our community to have a sense of safety – too many links are spamming and tacky if your organization is information based like ours. But if we were "selling" products then we would probably use more links because that is the expected norm and if someone subscribed to what they knew would be a sales list then the more links to products and information about how to get a particular item/service then the more helpful it is to the buyer. Thank you for sharing information with us and we wanted to say that we really appreciate AWebers service and community here. It’s the best!

    5/7/2008 4:22 pm
  35. Hope this blog will help some one including me. The distinction you made is valuable and I think it is useful for every one if every one go through the blog. Thanks for sharing with us.

    5/8/2008 3:52 am
  36. First, recipient perception affects the response. Long lists of anything including links turns people off because most are scanners. Long lists indicate a weakness in the business–subliminal–it just ain’t doing so well.

    Second, since most customers are looking first for information it seems wise to not only make the links about information which is an extension of the info in the primary email message, but also provide a tag line to each link giving the reader a magnetic need to find out what the link is about—like, "If you want to learn about red haired lizards….." click here. Actual links rarely tell the reader what they will find when they click it. For them it’s a guess. So, why not clue them in before they click. Readers respect the help you provide them—not wasting their time by linking to something that turns out not to be what they expected or wanted.

    5/8/2008 10:50 am
  37. Stay focused on why you contacted the person, and keep the links relative to it. You will find the suitable amount of links by following these simple rules.

    5/8/2008 3:48 pm
  38. I tried to include some website navigation links in my newsletter. I put four button links on there and linked each to a different page. It keeps changing all the links to whatever link I did last. Do you know what may be causing this?

    5/8/2008 5:13 pm
  39. Ryan,

    I think we’d need to take a look at your newsletter to see what the problem is. I’ve sent you a private email to get some more specifics from you, in case you are an AWeber user.

    5/9/2008 8:29 am
  40. Carl

    Hi to all:

    I am brand new to all of this and reading through all of these comments was a great help – being a newbie can be frustrating as getting started is the toughest part (you have all been there I am sure) Thanks to all of you this email link issue is making more sense to me.

    As a newbie I prefer to read the shorter emails and I find the source from where the email came seems to be more of an expert when there is not a ton of links in the email, as there is a focus within the email itself instead of a "yard full of links" which seems like a marketing scheme just to make a sale stick on something.

    5/19/2008 10:06 am
  41. E

    I have implemented this tactic on several of my blogs and it works!

    5/29/2008 8:32 pm
  42. Good information Marc.

    I do agree with you but it also depends upon the niche you are in. Only testing and further tweaking as per the results will show that this strategy bear fruitful results.

    6/2/2008 5:55 am
  43. Thanks for the tips some useful things to try out in my new business.

    8/29/2008 5:19 pm
  44. Just a note on something I haven’t seen mentioned here.

    The number of links, what they look like and how long
    your message is should really relate to your product.

    I write ebooks and so my prospective customers are
    people who buy books and read. So I write
    longer emails and usually include a personal story
    to get my subscribers interested in learning more and also
    to build trust. I do very light html emails and basically
    most of my emails look like a personal letter.

    On the other hand if I was selling computer games
    I would make an html email with graphics and buttons
    similar to the game I was selling to make it fun to click them.

    Besides my email list I also offer bonuses if people purchase a
    product and these include the option to subscribe to a series
    of movies and also a series of radio shows (on two different lists).

    I line with what I have suggested above I keep these
    lists seperate and have each look different.

    For instance the movies list has a screen shot of the movie as a
    button and so when you go to click the movie to play it
    you are redirected to a page with the movie on it. The radio show has
    one button that says listen and one that says transcript.

    I also keep them seperate so if the subscriber gets tired of the
    radio shows (which are longer) and unsubscribe they will not be
    unsubscribed from the other lists. Having three lists all with a different
    look and focus also helps my subscribers to feel better about
    getting a lot of information from me.

    I hope this is useful!

    11/1/2009 7:48 pm
  45. Great info and suggestions on making email marketing easier. There are several good tidbits of info that I can definitely incorporate into what I’m doing. Thanks!

    3/29/2010 12:37 pm
  46. Your strategies are very good, I want to add one that also mention Alternate text on links and images. And make images linkable to relative pages and use clear picture of your products.

    12/11/2012 11:08 pm
  47. thanks for sharing nice tips!

    10/6/2013 9:03 pm