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Why You Should be Investing in Functional Links

Find out how the hidden functional links in your marketing emails could be driving a surprising amount of revenue.

For many, the role of email is to drive people to a company’s website. Then the site can do what it does best and convert prospects. Getting email recipients to click is the primary goal for many email campaigns. So it’s not surprising that KPIs (key performance indicators) for email are often centered on click rates, with subject lines, creative, content and calls-to-action all crafted with maximum clicks in mind.

Why do clicks matter?

Clicks are one of our favorite metrics. For a start, they are much more reliable than open rates, and can be analyzed in a variety of ways to provide a significant amount of insight.

For example…

The absolute number of clicks shows the volume of direct traffic to a website, and allows your email to be compared to other traffic-generating activities.

Total and unique clicks are typically presented as a percentage of delivered and opened messages, and show the relevance of the content to targeted recipients. Total clicks as a percentage of unique clicks (click quotient) is also used to measure how many times each user has clicked.

Clicks can be used to get up-to-date preference data on a subscriber’s interests and needs, which may have changed a lot since they registered to receive emails. Clicks are used to qualify leads for follow up which can be done either through triggered mailings to subscribers who have shown an interest in a particular product or service, or via other channels.

Functional vs. emotional links

To get a better understanding of this valuable metric, we have been looking more closely at links in our analysis. We’ve found that all links typically fall into 2 types functional links and emotional links.

Functional links, like a navigation bar, a header or a company logo, provide subscribers with direct access to places they want to go to. Emotional links are the more prominent, strategically written links that work much harder to encourage users to take an action.

For example, ‘find out more’, ‘buy now’ or even simply ‘click here’. As you would expect, the majority (78%) of clicks are generated by emotional links in B2C mailings. However, when revenue is included in the analysis, it is disproportionately skewed 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.

Emotional links are typically a marketer’s main focus. A significant amount of time is invested in developing content that provides value to the subscriber while generating desire for certain products and services, and calls-to-action that are as visible and compelling as possible. We do whatever we can to fill our readers with a sense of urgency they must click that link!

Meanwhile functional links typically found in navigation bars and footers, are given little consideration once in a template, and at times are not included at all. Investing in functional links In order to get the most from campaigns, marketers should be sure to include both functional and emotional links in all mailings. 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.

Knowing the difference, and analyzing the revenue impact of these links for your own mailings will be likely to build a case for making sure functional links are always included because typically they provide a very cheap and quick way of generating revenue. Make sure your templates favor functional links Navigation bars are often taken directly from a website. However, email marketers can maximize this opportunity by optimizing the functional links that work best in their emails.

Testing can be used to identify the optimal structure and content of functional links within templates, so you can pick the best ones to drive the performance of future campaigns.

The length of time between when an email is deployed and when a user clicks through from it can also affect revenue. Clicks immediately after deployment, as well as those generated a significant period of time afterwards, tend to have a high click-to-purchase rate. We’ll be reporting more about this soon.

Last updated: Aug 24, 2017