Email marketing: key concepts in email testing

Last month, Stefan Pollard, a senior strategic consultant for marketing solutions provider Responsys, wrote an article about the three vital elements of email to test for It inspired me to write this post.

Email allows marketers to keep a record of subscriber’s actions and track them. These data allow for so much more testing in terms of smaller focus groups or A/B testing.

Tests and focus groups can be costly. Marketers that are a bit savvy can find ways to cut these costs and run more effective and efficient first-run tests. Test selection is crucial.

The experienced marketer realizes the variants and understands what works in this situation may not work in another. Most email testing program suggestions seem to carry the phrase, “It depends; test it”.

In most email marketing testing processes, the element to test is the key question

The point is that every single situation and marketing idea is different and test subjects may react dramatically different to each. Small-scale testing to ensure success is key before rolling out campaigns.

Email testers that are successful use a hypothesis when they begin a test. Tracking the results carefully is crucial to any testing process and the ultimate idea, is to see if your results align with your original hypothesis.

In most testing processes, the element to test is the key question. The objective of a test in terms of success is a test that will produce results. These results are desired to be results that can be duplicated and create repeat business.

If you test A versus B and you find that A has the winning element, you may decide to use A for a mass rollout. However, if you don’t know why A was won, how can you repeat the process?

Getting full results that give you the information needed in the long run helps reduce testing costs and resources.

Audience segmentation

Audience segmentation uses targeting different groups of subscribers. This can be done by changing none of the information and only gathering the data based on the groups or by using different information specifically catered to the groups to gather your data that way. The groups are gathered in the acquisition process.

Subject lines

Subject lines are a key element to email testing. Most people choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. There are three different types of subject lines; brand-specific subject lines, benefit-driven subject lines and action-oriented subject lines.

Breaking the subject line up into a beginning, middle and end can also provide additional testing points. You can gather data based on certain portions of the subject line to reuse keywords versus solely analyzing the subject line as a whole.

Calls to action

A call to action is what you want the person reading the email to do. The elements of a quality call to action include three things.

The physical appearance is the first thing as most of us are graphic driven individuals. The second is the words used for the call of action. If the wording is poor, confusing or too bland, people are not going to act on this. The final thing is what you are asking the reader to do. Saying things such as, Click here or sign-up here, doesn’t really tell the reader what you want them to do and they may decide not to go any further.

Email testing can be really resourceful in terms of marketing, but you have to have a strategy.

When you attempt an email test, you should have a result that you are expecting. Conduct tests that can produce repeatable results. Testing just to test without the proper planning and research is going to be costly and in the end, wasteful.

As your testing improves and you gather the results you are looking for, use your logs/records to improve even further.

This will greatly help in your future marketing campaigns.

You can read Stefan’s post here.