One of the best things about email marketing is the ability to test elements in a campaign and quickly receive actionable data. Moreover, the results of email tests can apply to other marketing efforts or to a website generally.
Testing for email marketing is typically done in one of two ways.
- A/B test. This is simply when you divide your file into equal segments and each segment receives a different version of the element you are testing. It can be more that two segments, so long as the test size is statistically significant.
- Percentage test. This is when you test a percentage of your file, say 20 percent, which is then divided by the A/B segments. The test is run for finite time, perhaps 6 hours, with a method of determining the winner based, typically, on the number of opens or clicks. When the winner of the test has been established, the remaining portion of the file will receive the winning version. This tactic is good for optimizing within a single deployment. Many email service providers have automated testing platforms.
In this post, I’ll explore three email-marketing elements to continually test, to optimize their performance.
An email is effective only if people open it. Testing your subject lines constantly can greatly optimize your email marketing. Test subject lines on different segments to determine how subscribers respond, on the following metrics.
- Open rate. The higher the open rate, the better the subject line. However, consider this metric in conjunction with other metrics — such as click-to-open rate and conversion rate, discussed below — to know how successful the subject line was.
- Click-to-open rate. This measures the percentage of recipients who opened the email and then clicked on it. This metric is important, as low click-to-open rates will help identify catchy subject lines that produced few conversions.
- Conversion rate. Conversions are the ultimate goal of most email marketing campaigns. Low conversion rates suggest a more direct and actionable subject line is needed, to inform subscribers of the action you want from them.
Offer or Call to Action
Every email-marketing message should have a specific goal or objective. Perhaps you are communicating new products for subscribers to browse, or you are promoting discounted items. Regardless, an email’s design and call to action or offer should reflect its objective. Testing multiple offers or calls to action will help you understand your subscribers. For instance, some subscribers react to deadline-oriented offers while others respond to discounts.
Day of Week and Time of Day
Prior to widespread mobile adoption, email engagement followed a typical 40-hour workweek: people opened and read emails at their work computers. Today, many brands see the highest engagement on nights and weekends. Regardless, testing and optimizing the deployment day and time can help boost open, click, and conversion rates.