Functional vs. emotional links

When creating an email campaign, it's best to keep a clear goal in mind, right from the start. For many, that goal will be to drive people to your website. Making sure your readers have something to click on is very important: it allows you to get to know your readers and their interests better. 

That means that you need to improve all elements that have an impact on your click rates: like subject lines, content and call to actions. Why do those clicks matter? They are much more reliable to open rates and can be analyzed and compared to other media in many different ways: 

  • Absolute number of clicks: show the volume of direct traffic to your landing page and can be easily compared to other traffic-generating activities, like social media posts
  • Total and unique clicks: show the relevance of the content to targeted recipients
  • Total clicks as a percentage of unique clicks: measure how relevant your content is and how many times a user clicks on average
  • Clicks can be used to get up-to-date preference data on a contact's interests and needs, which may have changed a lot since they registered to receive emails.
  • Clicks are used to qualify contacts interesting for follow up 

Since those clicks are so important, it's best to know a bit more on how call to actions and links drive conversions. You can divide links into two types: functional and emotional links. 

Use functional links

Functional links are practical. Functional links, like a navigation bar, a header or a company logo, provide readers with direct access to places they want to go to. Any link with an anchor saying ‘Click here to see…’, or the social media icons at the bottom of your message, or the logo located at the top of your message, which should bring the reader to your website.

All of those have a clear intent, and clear direction. There is a high level of expectation. The contact knows – If I click here, I know exactly what will happen.

Use emotional links

In contrast, emotional links work through memories, curiosity and excitement. Emotional links are the more prominent, strategically written links that work much harder to encourage users to take an action. 

As you would expect, the majority (78%) of clicks are generated by emotional links. These are typically the links a marketers puts most effort in. In strategic places we include a call to action to make sure a contact finds his way to more relevant info, when we think he is ready for it. 

However, when revenue is included in the analysis, it is disproportionately in favor of functional links. While typically generating an average of only 22% of the clicks, functional links tend to generate over 30% of an email campaign's revenue.

Don't forget about your functional links 

As marketers we usually mainly focus on those emotional links. We put a lot of time in writing copy that offers value and sparks interest for or product or service. And we create call to actions that are as visible and convincing as possible. But what if your reader isn't interested in the specific product you're trying to promote in this email? Don't you want to offer them alternative pages to visit? 

Functional links tend to be placed in your template in the very beginning, only to be forgotten afterwards (or not get included at all). You don't have to copy the exact same navigation as can be found on your website. You could create and test different versions in your emails, to find out what works best for your audience.

That way, subscribers who are ready to purchase can do so quickly and easily using functional links, while emotional links will cater to the needs of subscribers who need more convincing of the benefits. They offer a cheap and quick way to attract more people to your website (and those people tend to be ready to buy!)

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