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Monday, February 11, 2008

Too many links spoil the broth

I am currently challenging conventional wisdom in email. This week, my subject is links. Most people agree that a high degree of consistency between web design and email design is important. One area where that often carries through is in site navigation – boxes of links to part of a website appear in the email template.

3 years ago we conducted a survey on user behaviour. One of the most interesting results was that the more links that existed in an email, the more people clicked them. The novelty of receiving email newsletters, and following their links was still high. This trend has now reversed. The best results, in terms of click-throughs, come from fewer links.

In fact, I would suggest that if the purpose of your email is to get recipients to click through a particular link, then you would be best served by having only that link, and by focussing the direction of both layout and content towards it. Anything else is a red herring.

So when designing an email template, think about links. Yes, have one through to your home page, but do not replicate the navigation menu of your site, as you may lose people who might otherwise have clicked through your key message link.

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