As fancy and well put together as your email campaign might be, it’s all just set dressing for the real star of the show: your call-to-action. Interaction with your CTA and, to a lesser degree, the other links in your email are most often the real indicators of whether or not an email campaign is successful. The question now is “What makes for an appealing link?” Do people respond more positively to text links or image links? We did some research on the behavior of financial advisors and have pulled out trends in their preferences to help better inform your email design and layout choices. Here’s what we found…

Text links are most common

Image vs. Text

In the graph, the X-axis represents how far down the page the links appear (with 0% being the top and 100% the bottom) and the Y-axis represents the prevalence of links in that area. As the chart demonstrates, text links are about twice as common as image links in email campaigns. This is the case for a number of reasons, most notably because text links are always visible while image links often require permission to load.

It may seem like a more eye-catching image link would be the best option to draw clicks, but consistency is another crucial factor to consider. Consistent with our findings in our link positioning article, there is an abundance of links in the header and footer of every email and the most common placement of CTA links takes place in roughly the top 35% of the email. As we pointed out in that article, the reason behind this anomaly is most likely due to the banner links to the sender’s homepage, social media links, and a “view online version” link at the top.

Text links get the best results

Image vs. Text clicks

As you can tell by the graph, text links are twice as successful as image links. This trend may vary from industry to industry, but in the context of financial marketing we have found text links dominate the landscape. Email recipients are often wary of allowing images to appear, especially on mobile devices, which results in a lackluster click rate. Even if an image has ALT Text, which allows a small text link to appear in the place of an blocked image, the results are still more favorable for a pure text link.

This is also likely due to the trend of text links typically being the primary call to action in an email, as well as the fact that CTA buttons are usually coded with text. Speaking of which…

Bullet proof buttons: the best of both worlds

image vs. text buttons

So this graph may seem like it goes against everything I’ve already established in the previous two sections, but there is a method to this madness. This graph demonstrates how the data swings the other way when you add “Bullet Proof Buttons” into the mix. Bullet Proof Buttons are a peaceful mediator between the feuding factions of text and image links since they share attributes of both categories.

Like image links, they look great, are eye catching and are simple to click. Like text links, they are consistent and load no matter what. This straddling of the line is due to the fact that bullet proof buttons are not actually images but instead HTML code built to look like images. You can code in the color of the button to make it visually in-sync with the style and will appear regardless of the recipients image-blocking preferences. It is clear from the results that buttons are the best way to go when designing your CTA link and, since they are the best of both worlds, bullet proof buttons are far and away your best option.

While it is important to make your emails look visually appealing and stylish, you must keep in mind your target audience is financial professionals whom, based on the above data, prefer more straightforward designs as shown by the majority of engagement with text and buttons.

Find out more about the intricacies of email anatomy from the following articles: