Test for Success in Email Marketing

Almost everyone buys into the value of testing.  It’s a basic premise of marketing, including email marketing. 

One thing that’s often forgotten, though is why we test…which is… that great marketing is about anticipating what the customer wants, needs, and desires, and finding a way to provide it so both you and the customer win.

Testing can help you do that…if you’re using the right tools.

Not everyone understands the methodology of testing.  So I thought I would spend a few minutes visiting about the basics of testing for success.

To make a difference in how you anticipate wants, needs and desires; in how you provide service for your email customers, and in your conversion rate, you’ll want to make the right changes, at the right time and  in the right order.  Then, every time you make a change, evaluate what happened before you make any further changes.

These few guidelines can help you focus:

  • Know what you’re testing.  There’s a well-known management saying “You can’t control what you don’t measure.”   If, however, you measure the wrong things, or don’t measure what really matters, you’ve lost before you’ve begun.  So, first you need to have a clear idea of what success is…to your customer..and  to your organization.  Be clear about what you’re testing, and how you’re going to interpret the results before you start.
  • Keep your tests groups equal.  You won’t have valid results if you measure 20 results in one change, and 50 in another.  Google Analytics or other web analytic software can help you  ensure you’ve set appropriate testing parameters. 
  • Test one element at a time.  The only way to accurately know what’s working is to test each change individually.  If you make several changes at the same time and collectively they show an improvement, you can’t predict the actual change element the improvement came from.
  • Test against a control…except of course for your first launch, where you’ll have nothing to test against.  Once you’ve got a benchmark, however, you can start making changes to improve your success ratio.  Unless, of course, your conversion rates starts out well beyond your goals.  Then, you might want to think long and hard about “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.”  Just ride it out until your conversion rates begin to drop, then look at making changes.

Email marketing metrics generally include the success of offers, coupons, guarantees, calls to action, message layouts, graphic images, subject lines, opening sentences, and P. S. messages, along with message delivery time… time of day, week and month. 

One of the best known way to test these metrics that you have determined are measurements of success is to use A/B or split testing. 

To do an A/B test for example, on your subject line, you would prepare two separate emails that are exactly the same except for the subject line.   The email with one subject line goes to half of your recipient list, while the second email, with a different subject line,  goes to the other half.  Then, measure the open rate of each to determine which one had the more positive impact on your market. 

 The winner becomes your benchmark.  You can then continue to test other subject lines against your benchmark until you’re convinced you’ve found the very best subject line possible…for now.

Using this process, you can test various metrics…one at a time…until you’ve arrived at the optimal email message. 

Then…keep testing…everything.  With every measurement tool available…as long as it makes sense.  

Remember your goal…is to anticipate what your prospects and customers will want, when they will want it, in the way they will want it. 

Test everything… so you and your customer are successful…together.

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