Scratching An Itch for Increased Engagement Rates

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Innovative, beautiful, and—let’s be honest—even awful emails are frequent topics of conversation in the Litmus office. We like to admire and get inspired by the good ones and, on occasion, get a laugh out of the bad ones. Paul recently shared an email from Plywerk that was simple and sleek, but what really caught our eye was the unusual and engaging landing page.


Plywerk makes customized bamboo photo mounts and art panels—and recently featured a customer creation in an email campaign asking subscribers to guess “what Jane Plywerked” for the holidays. Subscribers can reveal the image on the bamboo by clicking through to a “scratchable”  landing page:


Appropriately, this interactive and engaging approach is named Scratch-it.

The Scratch-it Experience

If you’ve ever used a lottery scratch-off card, the experience of using Scratch-it should be familiar. Scratch-it brings that suspense and anticipation into the digital world, specifically for email. After the subscriber scratches off enough of the surface, a button appears. Try it out!


Before scratching


After scratching

Scratch-it is effective on both desktops and touch devices, although people tend to spend more time “scratching” when using touch-enabled devices due to a more realistic experience. Scratch-it’s CEO, Robert Haydock, explains:

Scratch-it works because it takes advantage of our natural human curiosity by using a very simple reveal base interaction to satisfy that curiosity.

It definitely worked on me! In the example from Plywerk, I was extremely curious to “scratch” and see what Jane had Plywerked.

Email Support for Scratch-it

While Scratch-it’s technology doesn’t work directly within the email client, their customers have seen significant increases in click-to-open-rates (CTOR) and open rates. Robert believes that requiring the click to the landing page to see the technology in action hasn’t lessened the effectiveness of Scratch-it.

There are currently only a few extremely unique email formats that are commonly used in email marketing today. Scratch-it delivers a new way to engage your email subscribers…Scratch-it is providing an experience that’s delighting email subscribers of all kinds.

What about the results?

Robert reported some pretty amazing results for customers so far!

On average, Scratch-it enabled emails see 85% of clickers “scratching” the landing page. Multiple sends to the same subscribers have resulted in decreased bounce rates and over 90% of subscribers “scratching.” In December 2013, Scratch-it averaged over a 30% CTOR (click to open rate) across all campaigns.

The Plywerk example from above saw some amazing results as well—the CTOR of that campaign was 47.3%. Their highest previous CTOR was 17.6%—a 169% increase! In addition, their total open rate was double the unique open rate, meaning that subscribers kept re-opening the email. Conversion rates also increased—the email delivered a 200% increase in sales over previous emails. Wow!

Exactly why “scratching” works so well has a lot to do with effective storytelling and psychology. Robert explains,

The effort it takes to scratch is minimal, but it’s enough to make people feel invested in the result and that feeling of investment is what delivers outsized returns. Scratch-it uses a combination of a story and the scratching interaction to engage people with a marketer’s message leaving the subscriber a lot more likely to take action since they have “earned” their reward.

Non-retail clients have also seen performance increases. Recently, a B2B company that sells expensive software solutions to ophthalmologists and optometrists saw an 18.5% CTOR—a major increase over their typical CTOR of around 3%. In addition:

  • Over 80% of subscribers who clicked-through the email “scratched”
  • 48.3% clicked-through after scratching
  • 8.5% of those people filled out and submitted the company’s lead generation form

Scratching strategy

While it depends on your audience and their level of engagement with your brand, Scratch-it gives marketers the opportunity to add something unique to their ongoing campaigns. It seems like a great idea for announcing discounts and sales, as well as providing early/exclusive access to something. Robert explained that “an element of discovery and accomplishment” is needed in order to make a Scratch-it campaign successful.

Like any new content strategy, we suggest doing some testing to make sure a new approach resonates with your subscribers. Like other experimental email tactics, like symbols in subject lines, over-utilization may have negative results, so use novel approaches sparingly as a reward for engaged customers.

Have you seen “scratchable” emails in your inbox, or any other unique engagement techniques? Let us know!