What to Test In Your Email Marketing Campaigns

With all of the discussion around digital advertising and the constant attraction to the next hot social network (hello, Meerkat!), it's still email marketing that is the reliable veteran method for contacting your customers online. According to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud report for 2015, 73% of marketers say that email marketing is "core to their business," while almost the same amount attribute existing or future return on investment to the channel. When almost three quarters of your professional peers agree that a marketing medium is working, it's not something to ignore! Even though it has been around so long, there's still plenty you can do to improve your next email marketing campaign. [caption id="attachment_3542" align="aligncenter" width="324"]open email icon You've got mail... now get more out of it![/caption] 

Your Email Marketing: Room for Improvement?

Improvements in email marketing are usually achieved incrementally. You make small enhancements on each email and eventually open rates, then clicks and conversions, should begin to rise. Testing changes is a crucial part of this process, but first you need to know where to aim your experiments. Think about the areas of your email marketing that you know could be better and consider the following areas to start experimenting.

  • Subject Lines: Your subject line is easily the most important element under your control to make this happen. Think about what drives your customer's interests; list out words more likely to convert, then integrate some of them into your subject line to see which work best.

Try A/B testing to test the results. Compare a standard subject line sent to one half of your subscribers, with a new subject idea sent to the other half. If the new style seems to improve results, test again on the next send to verify. If you see a similar result, implement the updated subject style for all subscribers on your next campaign.

  • Format and Layout: Once you have subscribers opening your emails on a regular basis, the question becomes whether or not they like what they see. The style and layout of your emails contributes greatly to the actions that readers take, so it makes sense to switch things up here and there to see how click-throughs and conversions change.

Use the same A/B testing described above to test minor changes to format and layout. Most email marketing programs offer a variety of templates to do this, but you can even experiment with something as simple as including an image instead of a text call to action, or altering the color scheme of your email. Because there are so many potential areas for experimentation in this category, it makes sense to ask readers for their ideas on what to improve. Make a master list of the most common suggestions and test them one at a time so that you know which ones move the needle.

  • Types of Content: You can use all kinds of content to make your communications useful to customers, but it's easy for them to miss one or another if they use a social network or section of your site to find it. Collecting content together in a newsletter, or making a series that is announced by email, is one way to bridge this challenge.

Experiment with adding something new to your next newsletter, such as a new style of writing or perhaps video or audio . Analyze how it performs relative to what you usually send. For example, you could include more detailed pieces that answers common questions, or a more amusing take on a topic related to your industry.

Stay Confident, Stay Curious

The key to great email marketing is to stay curious and always be adjusting, even on seemingly small items like color of text or type of image. Don't be discouraged when an experiment fails to move the needle, or even when it performs worse compared to previous results. Think of each experiment you undertake as an opportunity to learn more about your subscribers; what they respond to, what stalls performance, even what causes them to unsubscribe. All of this is valuable to inform your next experiment and understand more about your customers, which can then be applied to other areas of your business, like improving the way your sales team converts inbound calls or how customer service reps handle service issues. Email is a powerful tool in your marketing kit, so take the time to study your results and learn what makes your subscriber list tick!

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