Testing your email campaigns isn't easy. There's a lot that goes on: determining which pieces of the campaign to test, selecting message to test, finding time to execute the test, and analyzing results. In fact, according to Econsultancy's Email Marketing Census 2011, only one in three responding companies (32 percent) carry out regular testing for email marketing; one in four said they infrequently carry out testing, while 13 percent don't test at all.
If you test your campaigns - keep it up! If you're not testing, why not? Testing your campaigns can give you invaluable, actionable information to improve future campaigns immediately.
Starting today, pick one of these six components and test your emails to find ways you can improve for your clients and customers. It will likely pay big dividends in the future.
From line. The from line is the unsung superhero of every email. It's the first thing a recipient sees in his inbox, and it's the first impression the recipient has of your brand and message. Test your brand's name against a more personal connection (a sales rep's name, for example) to see which garners a higher open rate. But, be sure to avoid the random marketing person's name no one knows. One of my agency's clients tested personalization in their from line and achieved much more engagement than a generic from - their sales reps' phones started ringing within minutes after the email was sent.
Subject line. This seems like a no-brainer, but it's often overlooked. Testing your subject line is easy to do and can provide interesting results to help guide your copy for future campaigns. Many in the industry think that having a short, specific subject line with no mention of the brand and including only a message will provide the best results. While this may be the case, why not test it to be sure? Try testing long vs. short, specific vs. vague, brand vs. no brand, etc. Use Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads to test the message that gets the most clicks.
Mobile versions. Experts from highly regarded organizations including Gartner, Nielsen, and eMarketer all predict unprecedented growth in smartphone purchases and usage. You need to know what your audience sees on these devices when they read your emails. Develop a mobile version of your emails to accommodate your audience and their needs. For one of our clients, my agency developed both a desktop and a mobile version of the email that delivered basically the same message, but was easier to read for mobile users:
Your data security. With all of the recent news of security breaches, it's more important than ever to ensure your email list is secure. Talk with your email partner to learn how they test their data security. Ensure their teams are doing everything they can to stay one step ahead of the spammers that would like nothing more than to have your customers' email address and other personal information.
Opt-in form and process. How easy is it for someone to sign up for your emails? Can they do it in one of your stores/restaurants/locations? How soon after they sign up do they get an email from you? Ask your friends and family to go to your website and sign up for your emails, and then ask them about the experience: Was it easy for them to find the sign-up box or link on your home page? If it's not on your home page (it should be!), then was it easy for them to find? Or, if not online, was it easy for them to sign up in your locations? Is it in a logical place such as an "about us" or a news section? Did they know what they would receive even before they signed up? When they clicked "submit" or dropped their completed form in the box, how soon did they receive a welcome message? Getting answers to these and other questions about the email sign-up process can give you an objective peek into ways you can improve for your customers.
SMS process. When executed properly, SMS can be an easy, quick, and efficient way for your recipients to manage their email subscriptions or join your list. I tested the SMS unsubscribe process of 10 brands, and only one worked. While SMS isn't the end all, be all of email subscription management – it's clunky, includes costs for some recipients, etc. – it should be a more efficient way to get new subscribers or allow them to manage their subscriptions, including updating email addresses and unsubscribing.
Which one of these have you tried or will you try for your email campaigns? Do you have any other tests we could all be doing today?
Simms is off today. This column was originally published on May 19, 2011 on ClickZ.
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Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.
Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.
Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.
He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.
Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.
Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.