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Why Triggered Email Campaigns Have a Higher Click-Through Rate Than Newsletters

Why Triggered Email Campaigns Have a Higher Click-Through Rate Than Newsletters

  • Messaging and Automation

The hard data says triggered email campaigns have a higher click-through rate than newsletters, by just over 40%.

Better yet, a triggered email with 2 or 3 links is 120% more likely to convert than one with just a single link.

Last week we examined whether emails with an image converted better than those without. This week we examined over 8,000 campaigns to find some super-practical tips on whether newsletters or triggered emails get more click throughs and why.

A few things to note:

  • We compared hard data from newsletter (blast) campaigns and triggered (transactional) campaigns. We’re lucky in that not many ESPs have data that spans both of these campaign types but we do.
  • 95% of our triggered emails are specifically setup for marketing purposes (as opposed to being receipts or system announcements) giving this data a very relevant perspective.
  • We only looked at ‘true’ links (we removed ‘View online’ and unsubscribe links as well as their related click values).
  • The ~8,000 campaigns used were a subset of those we’ve sent on behalf of our customers, picked at random.

Triggered email wins every time

Click rate triggered email

Triggered emails are 42% more likely to be clicked than newsletter campaigns.

Whilst this is clear from the data above, the real question is what we can get from this data. What information can you use to to make more informed decisions in the future. Here are two key hypotheses:

  • Triggered emails sent from Vero are usually triggered by things such as user sign up, user inactivity, a previous purchase or a similar event. These are all highly engaged activities with a lot of ‘context’. In many instances the customer is potentially ‘expecting’ an email (e.g. it’s becoming fairly standard to send out a series of emails as part of a SaaS welcome series and in all cases these emails speak directly to the customer about something relevant at that specific point in time. They’re also segmented virtually one-to-one.
  • Newsletters do not perform terribly and Vero’s customers seem to do well. Many newsletters target at least two segments which suggests that Vero customers are actively breaking down their customer-base into relevant segments. This too increases context which, in turn, increases click-through rates. By comparison, Mailchimp suggests their average click-through rate (globally) is around 3%. Segmentation works!

We went one step further and analysed whether the number of links in a transactional email had any impact.

Link count click rate

It turns out it does and that 2-3 links in the email is the sweet-spot to increase click through rates.

In all instance emails with more than one link have a higher click rate that those with only one.

Based on some qualitative review, many triggered emails use a simple HTML template format that includes a logo at the top or link in the footer back to their senders’ website. Out of 2 or 3 links, this counts for at least one link. It appears likely that emails with 2-3 links are those that truly have a single call to action in the actual body of the email.

Campaigns with 4 or more links (the maximum was just above 30) are generally of a slightly different nature and have a different goal. Rather than being a personal email or a highly focused one they often have product recommendations or variations that encourage the user to click through sheer volume.

Elizabeth Yin and the team at LaunchBit pulled together a bunch of statistics on email click rates and link counts. They found all sorts of things but certainly that digest-style newsletters (correllating to our data on campaigns with more than 4 links) had a much higher click through rate than those of other formats.

The number of links you have in an email newsletter affects the click-through-rate on the primary link that you want people to click.

In other words, if you have a link you really want people to click, it isn’t enough to place it at the top of your emails in a prominent place. Reducing the number of other links that you have elsewhere in the email improves your click-through-rate on that top priority link.

Elizabeth Yin

The number of links definitely has a big impact on the click-through rate. Emails with 2-3 links convert at a rate that is 120% better than those with just one and 46% better than those with 4 or more.


Triggered emails get more clicks than newsletters: there is no doubt about it.

That means you should leverage every chance you get to send triggered emails and harness them as a marketing opportunity.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send newsletters. If you segment correctly you still achieve really high click through rates and there are obviously so many opportunities to use newsletters to your advantage.

In the case of transactional emails its also important to plan and test different styles of email and focus on the number of links: having one or two key links tops is the key to success for triggered emails.

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