Tendo Dev Blog

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The inside scoop on the Tendo View redesign

In January 2008, we redesigned Tendo’s monthly email newsletter, The Tendo View.

If we developed a new email approach for a client, we’d certainly follow-up with some analysis on whether or not the redesign was successful and adjust our strategy accordingly. So, we’re doing the same for our internal effort and want to share the results with you.

(Some call this “eating your own dog food” but we think it’s just fair play. If we’re going to hold our clients accountable, we should do the same for ourselves.)

What Did We Do?

The Tendo View is an email newsletter that we send to approximately 1,000 recipients each month. Our audience includes past, present, and potential clients as well as freelancers and marketing professionals that are part of Tendo’s extended network.

Given our business, we have many marketers and Web-savvy folks on our list—the type of people who receive a LOT of email newsletters.

In 2007, our newsletter metrics were very respectable. We averaged a unique open rate of 20.71% and an average click-through rate of 12.21%.

We believed that the content we delivered was good. It provided value to our users and we had a nice mix of different content types, from feature pieces to site reviews to our popular “jargon watch” to blog entries.

But we wondered if the look and feel of the newsletter was inhibiting our ability to generate even more opens and better click-through rates. So we decided to make some tweaks to the design—not a wholesale redesign, just tweaking some elements—to see if we could improve our metrics.

Here’s what we found…

1. Size Matters

We did something simple that made a big difference—we increased the font size of our headlines in the newsletter. It makes them “pop” more, they’re easier for people to scan at a glance, and it’s obvious where they are supposed to click if they want more.

The result: average click-throughs jumped from 12.21% to 17.09%.

2. Placement Matters

In our original redesign, we placed “jargon watch” in its own box on the right-hand side. We thought we were giving it a special feature spot. But the “jargon watch” click-throughs in that first edition were just .44%, one of our lowest performers in the issue.

We moved the “jargon watch” back to the left-hand side, with the other feature content (and larger headlines) and the click-throughs went way up—an average of 2.87% over the last three issues. (“Jargon watch” was actually our best performer in the May issue.)

3. Subject Lines Matter

The subject line is the single biggest factor in your open rate. (Although, with email preview panes, people can also get a visual hit and may see some of the headlines within the newsletter itself, but for the most part, you must grab interest with the subject line.)

We use the subject line to highlight the reader benefit offered by the main feature article. Recipients should be able to quickly answer the question, “What’s the value here and is it worth my time?”

The result: average unique opens jumped from 20.71% to 25.89%.

4. Call to Action Matters

What do you want your readers to DO? There has to be a clear call to action. We did two things in this area.

First, is the aforementioned font-size change on the headlines. Again, the size and color makes it obvious where we want people to click to read and learn more.

Second, we added a new feature called “The Tendo Tip Sheet,” where people could actually download a practical guide to address a particular Web marketing challenge. We made the button to download obvious and large: “Get it Now.” We use this as a lead-generation tool and can develop better insight about what type of help our customers are seeking. (Of our openers, 3% are downloading the tip sheet.)

5. Less is More

We try to keep each monthly newsletter short and sweet, with five or six links to content. You can see almost everything above the fold and it’s clear at a glance what’s available.

We believe that the increase in open rates and click-throughs is a confirmation of this strategy.

The Bottom Line

By making some small changes, we’ve seen significant improvements in our email metrics. We encourage our clients to do the same. —John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

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June 6, 2008 - Posted by | Email Marketing, John Kovacevich, Metrics/Web Analytics, Tendo View | , ,

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