As an e-mail marketer you're surely wondering what happens with your email after it is sent. Did your subscribers open it? How many people opened your message and clicked on your links? Not only do such metrics help us identify active and inactive subscribers on…
Do Tracking Links Reduce Click-Through Rate? (Case Study)
One of the greatest things about e-mail is that we can track how our recipients act upon our messages. Email tracking statistics – opens, clicks, and click-throughs – tell us whether our audience likes the email and what part of it they are mostly interested in.
While open rate primarily depends on the email From and Subject, click and click-through rates are determined by your offer. It’s simple. If a recipient likes the offer, he clicks the link to get it.
But… you must admit that people are now very careful to open unknown emails and click on strange links.
Here is an example of a regular link:
The link looks normal and clearly shows at which page on which website it leads.
To track how many subscribers clicked on this link in the email, a regular link is converted into a tracking link. So, we end up with something like this in the email:
Below are a couple of examples of real links I received in emails I subscribed for:
And this one…
With all that said, I decided to do an A/B split test to discover if:
- the link design impacts a click rate; and if
- ugly tracking links really decrease a click rate.
For my test I used 3 versions of the email. They had the same From, Subject and the content.
Test versions differed by one thing only – tracking links inside the email, more specifically, the way links are shown inside the email.The test version 1 included the tracking links from our own domain glocksoft.com. The links were hidden behind the anchor text:
Here is how the version 1 looked like when received:
The test version 2 included the full tracking links from our own domain:
And the test version 3 included full tracking links from a generic domain safeclickpro.com:
To conduct the split test, I used G-Lock EasyMail v6.50 which supported a split testing capability. Plus, I used G-Lock Analytics – email tracking service – to calculate email opens and link clicks.
I sent 3 test versions to the equal quantity of recipients within the control group (30% of the whole list). Each test version was sent to 426 recipients.
I set G-Lock EasyMail to determine the winner version by the number of clicks 4 hours later. This is reasonable because the goal of my case study was to determine the impact of the URL design on the click rate.
So, 4 hours later I got the results as below:
You see the test version 1 with links from our domain hidden behind the anchor text was the current leader by opens and clicks.
Now let’s look at the split test statistics 4 days later:
Now the number of opens for the version 1 and version 2 are the same, the version 3 is only one open behind. But the number of clicks differ.
The version 1 with the tracking links from our domain which are hidden behind the anchor text was still the leader by clicks. The version 2 with full tracking links from our domain glocksoft.com took the 2nd place. And the version 3 including links from a generic domain was at the last place.
- The way you show the URLs in the email does matter and has impact on the click-through rate. People are more willing to click on clear and trustworthy links. A generic domain and a combination of generic characters are not the things that instill trust. They may be confusing for many people so they do not dare to click.
- If you think you could get a few additional clicks if you use friendly URLs, look at your tracking links, and contact your service or software provider to ask if there are any alternatives. If they give no alternatives, you tried at least. The value of tracking emails is worth a loss of several clicks. But if you can make your tracking links look attractive, don’t lose the chance. Each click counts.