Home  › Email › Email Marketing
email-tricks

15 Types of Email Marketing Tests You Should Be Doing

  |  August 5, 2013   |  Comments

How email marketers can go beyond just testing subject lines and look at other elements that might improve response.

I was recently asked to develop a "testing protocol" for a client. The deliverable was a worksheet that would document tests for a particular send, but they wanted it to do more than just that. They wanted it to educate on the value of testing and spur these groups within their organization to truly leverage testing to their advantage.

Not a simple task.

One of my observations, both with this client (who I've been working with for more than two years) and with other clients, is the focus on subject line testing. My personal goal, with this project and in general, is to get email marketers to go beyond just testing subject lines and look at other elements that might improve response.

There are a lot of "100+ things to test in email" lists out there. But these leave me a bit flat. Many of the items they list are specific to an industry or type of email, and many aren't things that will normally drive large increases in response.

So here's my much-less-impressive sounding list of 15 types of email tests you can do, along with some narration on my personal favorites and least favorites. The list is roughly organized from what generally provides the most to least value in terms of increased performance for the long term.

  1. Lists
  2. Landing page elements (which could spur another list of 15 or more)
  3. Completely new creative (multiple elements)
  4. Preview pane view
  5. Customization (targeted content)
  6. Offer/offer copy/placement
  7. Call-to-action copy/placement
  8. General wireframe/layout
  9. General copy
  10. Personalization (data merge)
  11. Subject line
  12. From line
  13. Design (fonts/colors/images)
  14. Time of the send
  15. Day of the send

List testing tops my list of 15, because if you aren't reaching the right audience it doesn't really matter what content the email carries. This is a broad category - you can test to indentify segments of your house list, which are more and less responsive to certain offers, and use this knowledge to boost your revenue per email sent by targeting offers. See my recent case study on this.

You can also mail to third-party rental lists to not only boost your immediate performance but also grow your own house list with qualified names via opt-in. Infusing your house list with qualified names on an ongoing basis is a key to success in email. According to MarketingSherpa's 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Survey, only 17 percent of marketers have email lists that are growing rapidly. Another 50 percent say their lists are growing slowly, and a third of respondents are seeing neutral to negative growth.

Landing page elements, which you can see could have a list of 15 or more elements of its own, is my second favorite thing to test. Email conversions tend to happen on landing pages, microsites, and web-based conversion funnels. It's important to keep readers engaged and moving toward the end goal of your email once they click through. Even a small boost in performance here, getting 5 percent or fewer of visitors to convert, can have a large impact on your bottom line. The results of many landing page tests you do can also be applied for future campaigns, in both email and other channels, producing true long-term value for the money spent.

Now on to some of the items at the bottom of my list.

I'm not a big fan of day and time send tests, nor do I pay much attention to those reports released periodically that tell you the best day and time to send email. I've found common sense to be the best guide here. For B2B email, I shoot to have it arrive during the business day based on the time zone of the recipients. For B2C email, I set send day and time based on the audience and when I imagine they'll have a few minutes to read it, which is typically late afternoon/evening or weekend days. I've done day and time testing for clients, but assuming they are starting with a "common sense" control time for their audience, I haven't seen huge, sustainable lifts.

The same is true for design, which I consider fonts, colors, and images. This is not to be confused with wireframes/layouts, which I have much higher on the list. I love good email design; but I have also found that as long as common sense is your guide, the fonts, colors, and specific images used don't tend to have a large impact on response. For me, common sense design is about using readable fonts and colors and images that compel readers to the action you want them to take. Testing magenta instead of maroon as the accent color on the email isn't something that typically provides you a large lift.

A challenge to readers: when you plan your next email test, start from the top (not the bottom) of my list of 15 and choose a type of test that you've never done before. Then build the test, see how it does, and let me know!

Until next time,

Jeanne

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

This column was originally published on April 1, 2013.

Tags:

ClickZ Live New York What's New for 2015?
You spoke, we listened! ClickZ Live New York (Mar 30-Apr 1) is back with a brand new streamlined agenda. Don't miss the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will make you re-think your strategy and revolutionize your marketing campaigns. Super Saver Rates are available now. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is one of the World's Top 50 Email Marketing Influencers (Vocus, 2014). She has more than 20 years of experience in the email and online marketing and product development world. Jeanne's direct-response approach to email strategy, tactics, and creative direction helps organizations make their email marketing initiatives more effective and more profitable. Clients include: ConsumerReports.org, FDANews, Hasbro, PRWeb, Scholastic, Verizon, and WeightWatchers. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Google My Business Listings Demystified

Google My Business Listings Demystified
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a new offering: Google My Business Locations. This whitepaper helps marketers understand how to use this powerful new tool.

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line
82 percent of shoppers say they would buy more items from a brand if the emails they sent were more personalized. This white paper offer five tactics that will personalize your email beyond the subject line and drive real business growth.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • Customer Service Consultant
      Customer Service Consultant (Bonner and Partners) - Delray BeachBonner & Partners: Full-time Customer Service Consultant Position Who we are...
    • Financial Editor
      Financial Editor (Confidential) - DurhamSIX FIGURE EDITORS WANTED: To enforce lofty NEW editing standards. Easy Conditions Unlikely. Promotion and...
    • Information Processing Specialist
      Information Processing Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreInformation Processing Specialist – The IP specialist position ensures the successful...