Text Links in Mailings Beat Image Buttons

Now that more and more companies use HTML in their e-mail marketing campaigns (instead of text only mails) we also see more and more text links (to products for example) been replaced by image buttons.

The technology makes it possible, so why shouldn’t you use it, you may ask? This is in it self a good question, but a better question is: Does using image buttons (instead of text links) give us more clicks and thus a higher conversion?

You may think so, because it stands out more or it looks prettier then text links, but the answer is it does not. The click trough rate is even lower then normal text links.

A resend case-study by the Aweber Company shows it clearly; text links beat the image button by a whopping 67% (long term test.)

(Note: for people that do not know. Aweber is a leading mail delivery/auto-response company that delivers a lot of newsletters for many websites, including this site. They make sure that the mailing isn’t marked as spam, by always providing a UN-subscribe link!)

The Test
The mailing list (that was used for their weekly mails) was split in half. In one half of mails they put the text-link “Read More” and in the other half (exact same content) they replaced the text-link with an image button. (The image button also contained the text “Read More”.)

The Results
As the result of this case-study shows, testing is crucial in email marketing (as it is in all internet marketing activities.)

In the first week the click through rate on the image button was much higher than on the text link. But they wanted a fair test, so they run the test longer. The weeks went by and each week the conversion on the image button got lower and lower.

(One reason why the conversion was higher in the first week was that the people where used to a text link. The image button was something new, so people clicked it.)

After weeks it was clear, the conversion on text links was higher.

In Conclusion
One thing is certain, if you want to run a successful e-mail campaign, then testing is one of the most important things you can do. What works today may not work tomorrow. And always test for a longer period.

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