Home  › Email › Email Marketing
email-testing

Strategic Testing: Tips for Success and Sources of Inspiration

  |  May 12, 2014   |  Comments

Testing is extremely important for a successful email campaign, so here are some tips to make sure you're testing in the right ways.

Last week I attended and spoke at Which Test Won: The Live Event in Atlanta (the European version of the show is taking place in London later this month). As the name suggests, the show is dedicated to testing to improve performance. If you know me, or if you've be a regular reader of my articles over the years, you'll know that I am a huge fan of testing. So this has been a fabulous experience!

Here are some tips on performance testing - both for those just starting out with A/B split or multivariate testing, or for those who have been doing it for a while.

1. Have a Solid Hypothesis

This has been one of my rallying cries for years - so it was so great to hear other speakers say it from the stage. Without a solid hypothesis, you're just guessing - and guessing is rarely as successful as having an informed point of view about what you're testing and why you think it will boost performance.
Sometimes the hypothesis is there, in your head, and you just need to massage it a bit and get it down on paper. Other times you're grasping - and there's no rhyme or reason to support your test. This latter situation is where you need to go back to the drawing board, come up with solid reasons why certain changes will boost performance, and change your test (see item three below, where I provide places to go for testing inspiration).

Here's an example: testing colors, let's say red versus green, for elements of your email. If you can not only explain why you're testing this but defend it, you have a solid hypothesis.

I did this type of color testing years ago when I worked in the stock advisory publishing industry. My solid hypothesis there was that "in the red" in relation to money was bad, while green was the color of money and was good. So I felt that making the calls to action and highlight color green, instead of red, would boost response because subliminally people would feel better about the chances that they would make money off our recommendations.

2. Technology Alone Won't Make Your Testing Program a Success

I'm a big fan of technology, but that alone won't make your testing program successful. It's the strategy behind your testing program that will make or break it, not what you use to implement it.

Garbage in, garbage out certainly applies here. If you don't have a sound hypothesis and you don't set up the test to get reliable, statistically significant results, you're wasting your time. It doesn't matter how sophisticated or expensive your technology solution is.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a fan of technology. My agency, Alchemy Worx, has a new Subject Line Analyzer Tool in beta. You input your idea for a subject line and it provides feedback based on past performance of your own email marketing as well as third-party email marketing specific to your industry. It's not something I see taking the place of traditional performance testing, but it can give you a leg up and help you fine-tune what you test to optimize results. If you'd like to learn more, feel free to email me.

3. Look for Inspiration From Other Marketers

So where can you get ideas for things to test that will move the needle and improve your bottom-line performance?

One of my favorite sources is WhichTestWon.com. They post a new test on their website each week and invite visitors to weigh in on which of the creatives they believe was more successful. Even better, the website will then tell you which test actually won and provide you quantitative details on the lift that was reported. Sign up for their email newsletter to get their tests delivered to your inbox on a regular basis. They also have a database of nearly 500 case studies you can peruse.

Not all the content here is about email marketing - but it's still a great place to go to see what others are testing and how it's working out for them. And a lot of the ideas here are very easy to adapt to email.

Another place I love for inspiration is MarketingSherpa.com. Their case studies are top-notch; they cover many channels but they have a newsletter dedicated to email marketing which is worth signing up for. But once again, don't limit yourself. See what people are testing and how it's doing - and then think about how you can adapt it to email.

Until next time,

Jeanne

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanne Jennings

Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. 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

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

WEBINARS

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Downers GroveWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager...
    • Internet Marketing Specialist
      Internet Marketing Specialist (InteractRV) - DallasInternet Marketing Specialist InteractRV - Anywhere Telecommute, USA SEM | SEO | Content Creator...
    • Tier 1 Support Specialist
      Tier 1 Support Specialist (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreThis position requires a highly motivated and multifaceted individual to contribute to and be...