byEmailBandDC05-30-201310:31 AM - edited 01-23-201512:02 PM
If you’re looking for quick, easy wins with your email marketing program, testing is where it’s at. If you haven’t been testing, you’re not alone: according to Hubspot, only about 20% of marketers are regularly A/B testing their emails. While possibly intimidating at first, testing can be relatively labor-light and pain free. And, of course, the great upshot is gaining better insight into your audience and how to engage them.
Cramming for the test Before jumping right into what to test, a note on how to test: an A/B split is generally the most straightforward and easily implemented approach. If your email service provider has A/B split capabilities built in, awesome. But be sure they’re randomizing your list for you. You want your most engaged recipients evenly distributed through both lists. Without this, your results will be skewed and all your hard work goes down the drain.
When it comes to deciding what to test, to keep your life less complicated and your results easily interpreted, test only one item at a time. And unless you’re testing time of day, launch your tests at the same time for an apples-to-apples comparison.
5 Tests to Try 1. Subject Lines As your first statement to your audience, what impression do you want to make? How do you want your recipients to react? I’ve found the audience I mail to tend to shy away from pithy and cute Subject Lines, reacting with as much as a 10% increase in opens for emails that clearly delineate what’s included and how they’re going to benefit. Play around with your tone and approach to see what your audience responds best to.
2. Time of day/day of week There are a million theories out there on what constitutes the best time of day and day of week to launch your emails. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so testing is the best way to determine what’s best for your audience. I recently tested a Saturday versus Sunday launch: the Saturday open rate was a whopping 45%, while Sunday about 13%. I think a good rule of thumb to use when deciding on day of week and time of day tests it to start with what you want your recipients to do as a result of the email. If you were asked to do the same thing, when would you be most likely to?
3. Calls to Actions How are you asking your recipients to do what you want them to? Think about incorporating an incentive. What’s in it for your audience to click? “Save today” could prove a more appealing notion than the very directive “Buy now”.
4. Pre-header A pre-header is the short summary text that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in your inbox. This bit of info becomes especially noticeable when viewed on mobile devices and can be the difference between a click and a skip. If you’re using short, pithy subject lines, the pre-header is great way to provide a little more of a clue as to what the recipient can expect when opening your email. That advance knowledge for recipients has also been shown to decrease complaint and unsubscribe rates.
5. Images While it’s true that images are disabled in many email clients, requiring an additional “click” for your recipients to see all the pretty pictures you’ve included in your emails, when done right, images can add a lot of value and appeal to your emails. Consider testing not only the image itself, but its placement and the copy used in the image.
When it comes to testing, to keep learning and keep improving, keep testing. What had great results six months ago may not be working as effectively today, or six months from now. Audiences change, and so do their reactions to what you’re sending. And little tweaks along the way can make a big difference in improving the success of your email program.
Coming to the 4th Annual Rainmaker Event? Testing and other email related topics will be covered during my session, so be sure to attend to learn more.
About the author: Vanessa Meincke is the Sr. Email Marketing Manager for Data.com Connect.