How to Improve your Email Click-Through Rates by 12X

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A few weeks ago we launched a new drip email campaign for Feast. You can see it on our homepage.

It’s a 7-day crash course, teaching the basics of cooking.  Every day, we send you an email with a lesson.

It’s far exceded our expectations.  The average click-through rate in our industry is 3.4% (check yours here).  Our top email gets 41%.  That’s 12x higher than the average.

Now that those stats have remained consistent for over 1000 subscribers in the first couple weeks, I wanted to share why I think it’s working well…

First, here are the lesson subject lines and their stats:

In 7 days, you’ll Feast like a champion

Open rate: 59%

CTR: – (no links)

Lesson 1:  How to use your tongue

Open rate: 63.5%

CTR: 41%

Lesson 2: Master the knife in minutes

Open rate: 55.1%

CTR: 36.6%

Lesson 3 – How to cook anything without a recipe

Open rate: 53.3%

CTR: 28.4%

Lesson 4 – In what order should you cook your ingredients?

Open rate: 49.5%

CTR: 22.9%

Lesson 5 – How to fix any broken dish

Open rate: 47.8%

CTR: 21.5%

Lesson 6 – Make it sexy 

Open rate: 46.3%

CTR: 20.0%

Complete your Feast training

Open rate: 44.4%

CTR: 16.8%

Now…A couple things worth mentioning:

1. There’s a steady drop off over time.  That happens in most drip email campaigns.

2. After the crash course is done, we continue to send little “cooking hacks” every day and the open rate hovers right around 45% and the CTR around 20% indefinitely.

3. This was just our first stab at it.  There’s still room for improvement.


So now that you’ve got a good idea of what we have cookin (heh heh), here are a few things we did that I *think* contributed to its success.  I can’t say for sure, but having run at least a dozen email campaigns like this in my career, I’ve picked up on a few trends.

Here’s why I think it’s working (#3 is the big winner):

How to use your tongue
1. Users know what they’re getting when they sign up

We didn’t just say “sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send you cooking tips!”.  We actually tried that first.  It worked, but about half as well.  Now, users know they’re getting 7 lessons, in order, and it’s going to teach them how to cook.

They also have to confirm their email address with the double opt-in keeping our list nice and tidy.

For another good example of this, check out the Summer of Design emails from David Kadavy.

2. Subject lines

Since you can’t A/B test subject lines for autoresponders in mailchimp, we haven’t done a lot of comparisons here.  But we purposely put the lesson number in the subject lines.  This way, users know if they missed one (maybe they didn’t see it or spam caught it). They also feel a sense of progression.

Using subject lines like “make it sexy” doesn’t hurt either.  Always good to create curiosity as long as it’s actually in line with the content of the email.

Noah Kagan is really fricken good at this.  The last email I received from him was titled “I got naked 3 times last weekend”. I opened it.

3. The emails are just the lead in to the content

We set up the crash course so that the emails would be a delivery device, leading into the lessons. They might have a tidbit of info to warm you up, but the actual lessons live on the blog.  So you’d have to click through to see the whole lesson.

This works extraordinarily well.  Try it.  Instead of saying everything in the email, just give an intro, and then ask the reader to click through to get the full lesson, video, post, whatever…

4. Being witty

The voice we use at Feast is like that witty, sarcastic friend we all know and love to have around.  We keep it funny and punny.  It’s entertaining.  With emails, that kind of voice works REALLY well.  Check out Joanne’s style in the Copy Hackers email for another good example.

5. It’s simple

Every lesson focuses on one thing.  One.  That’s it.

If you start reading up on email marketing, you’ll inevitably hear something along the lines of “Most spam emails are only one line and a link because that’s where they get the highest conversions”.  That doesn’t mean start spamming.  That means keep it short and focused.

6. It’s actually valuable

May sound like a pompous thing to say but I get emails every day from people who loved our crash course (and occasionally some who don’t…can’t win em all). It wasn’t easy to find that value.  We’ve been experimenting for months with different class formats, videos, we even delivered boxes of ingredients to people’s homes for 6 weeks.  We’ve been digging in, every day, to learn more about what our audience wants and likes.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard.  Just think about your audience and what problem you’re actually solving for them.


If you want to see the emails for yourself, you can sign up here for the free Feast crash course.  You can pick up some email marketing tips, and maybe you’ll even learn how to cook while you’re there ;)

Happy emailing!


It looks like you launched about 6 months ago, if your fist blog entry was in January.

You have high CTRs most likely because your list is still relatively small. We ran a group buying site in 5 countries and 15 cities and our experience was similar until we  hit 50k subscribers on a city list . After that it leveled off ranging from a low of 12-13% to high of 21-22%.

How many links does an average mailing have? What is your churn rate? (churn is an important number to be watching).

As your list grows you will see both Open Rates and CTR rate drop. Hopefully you'll still be much higher than the industry averages ( 

DavidSpinks moderator

@louishatzis One link. Churn rate is about 3% each day. Levels off at about 45% open and 20% click through.   

Makes sense that early on with the early adopters the conversion rates might be higher.  I'll let you know when we hit 50k ;)


@DavidSpinks That startuo was 3 years ago and now its over. We went beyond 50k and hit 1m subs long ago :) Anyway, good luck!


Why do you  think #3 is the big winner?

DavidSpinks moderator

@k because we've tried both and making people click through to get the real content clearly increases click through rates like woah.

Is it worth it?  Depends.  Is you goal to just get people to consume the content as quickly as possible?  Maybe it's better to sacrifice the click through rate and just put it all in the email.  If you want people to be clicking, taking action, engaging, then making them click is a powerful method.