7 Ways to Push Your CTR to the Next Level


You’ve likely heard the news by now– Apple changed its privacy settings in a big way in September 2021. These changes are likely to affect 40% of your email marketing list and have an impact on one of your favorite email marketing metrics– open rate.

Recently, we sat down with accredited partners M+R, Mal Warwick DonorDigital, and Engaging Network’s email deliverability expert, Gwynne Dixon to unpack these changes– the who, what, why, when and most importantly what nonprofits should do about it. Here is a blog that summarizes the changes and you can find the session recording here.

Simply put, this change will affect anyone using the Apple Mail app on their iPhone, iPad, or Mac Desktop regardless of their email provider– Gmail, Yahoo, AOL etc. Apple will pre-load email content, including open tracking pixels for everyone who opts in to an email list, which means that even if a person didn’t look at an email it will register that they did.

Yes, this means any audience segmentation or targeting based on the last open date will be rendered useless. While this sounds like a terrible and downright scary thing to marketers far and wide, there are positive benefits to this change. One being, it can actually help your email marketing program to become more engaged. Instead of focusing on email opens which is a baseline engagement, we now recommend you focus on click-through rate which is a far more engaging metric. This means the people you have on your list will be active participants and one step closer to donating or taking action for your organization.

To begin, we recommend you take notice of your baseline CTR and do A/B testing to work towards increasing it. Here are seven email tests to deploy to work towards increasing CTR.

1. More links in the email

This is an obvious suggestion, but you’d be surprised how many nonprofits are hesitant to include “too many” links in their emails. Testing can help you find that happy medium. We also recommend choosing only one link to send your email list to and not diffusing clicks to multiple pages if you can help it. This is especially important for donation asks.

2. Different formatting of links

This one might not be as apparent as the first one, but including links in various mediums can elicit curiosity which in turn would lead to more clicks. Sometimes your links appear in a sentence, sometimes they appear in summarized bullets or maybe a beautiful bright button. Choose your own adventure, and see what works for your nonprofit.

3. Alternate CTA language

We’ve all received one too many emails with the same CTA language. However, sometimes email CTA gets stale, and freshening up with some test CTA language can help keep your supporters curiously clicking. Spice it up by asking supporters to help a specific campaign or go the opposite direction and create language around thanking them with a clickthrough with campaign results. They’re so used to asks, they could be genuinely impressed with a hey, thank you– this is what your help did for us which could lead to long-term retention and engagement.

4. Alternate button formatting

Subtle changes in button formatting can go a long way. Maybe at the top of the email you have one button and at the bottom of the email you have two buttons. Each button can lead to the same page but perhaps different parts of the page. For example, one button can be “Learn More” and the other button could be “Help Now”. Learn more can lead to the part of the page that tells supporters about the campaign and “Help Now” could lead directly to the part on the donation page that has payment options.

5. Animation on buttons

While this should be used sparingly, it certainly would catch attention. Perhaps add animation to a thermometer that shows incremental growth towards the goal and how far off the campaign is from the goal. This could simultaneously show social proof and could project a sense of urgency to donate now.

6. More visual content, experimentation, and shorter emails

Less is more. Test what your supporters engage with the most– short copy, imagery, GIFs? Then, give them what they want. Once you find a formula that works, try other forms of content to keep things fresh. You can introduce these click-orientated messages throughout email schedules to balance giving emails. Here are some examples:

  • One click quiz
  • Share a video
  • Save the date
  • “Click here” to see pictures
  • Top 10 List where you know the top most wanted items are hidden
  • Downloadable freebies
  • Surveys
  • Vote/poll

7. Larger font size

Capture attention with a bold header and ask. However, use this design tactic sparingly or supporters could get burned out.

Happy testing! We hope these ideas will spark some successful campaigns for you. Be sure to let your Account Success Manager know what is working for you.

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