Puppies, Kittens or Seals?
Puppies or kittens? That age-old question inspired a recent study by Blue State Digital, in which it conducted a double-blind variable-controlled test to determine which pulled better response rates — the image of a puppy or a kitten — for an e-mail advocacy effort around toxic pet food.
With the help of a focus group made up of "Sasha and Malia Obama, and our grandmothers and kindergarten teachers," the company chose pictures of a puppy and a kitten for test petition signup and fundraising e-mails, which it sent on behalf of one of its high-profile clients.
For the petition signup e-mail, the kitten appeal had a slightly higher open rate, but the clickthrough and action rates of the puppy e-mail were higher. But for the fundraising appeal — for which it used the same graphics, switching out "sign the petition" button with a "donate" button — the kitten e-mail outperformed the puppy e-mail, with a higher clickthrough rate, double the number of donors and more than double the amount raised.
The report shared the following tips, with comments:
- Pick a cute puppy. Or kitten. "This isn’t the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree — looks matter."
- Pick a sad puppy. Or kitten. "Happy animals are adorable – but sad animals are heartbreaking. I mean, who can resist those puppy dog eyes?"
- Tell people there's a picture of a cute, sad puppy. Or kitten. "Make sure your subject line and alt text tells people they’re missing a really cute picture of a puppy. Or kitten. We suggest, 'Hey, look at this really cute, sad puppy!' or 'This cute puppy is cuter than your cute puppy.'"
- Don't use too many pictures of a cute puppy. Or kitten. "One cute puppy grabs people’s attention. Two is a distraction."
- If possible, don't use a cute, sad puppy. Or kitten. Use a seal. "Furry little seals trump everything."
To read this almost-too-cute-to-be-real report in full, click here.
Editor's Note: Please note that the original date of the report was April 1, 2009, or April Fools' Day. It was too cute to be real after all!