Email marketing is more popular than ever before! Almost all companies seem to be utilizing email campaigns these days because they are a relatively inexpensive marketing approach. But some businesses are not getting the most out of their email marketing.
In a recent eMarketer study more than a third of email marketers surveyed said they did not test their email campaigns at all.
While testing can be time-consuming, it is the most vital part of running a successful email campaign. With that in mind, why don’t all marketers take the time to test their email campaigns? Most reported that they simply didn’t know how!
I sat down with Ashley Boening, an email marketing specialist, to discuss email testing. Here is the information he shared with me:
- Body Copy
- Personalization vs. Standardization
- Personalizing emails with customer names or by user level can be very attractive for email marketers because it offers the appearance of a personal relationship with the customer. While certain personalization efforts like touting membership level perks and rewards standings can excite customers and encourage them to buy more frequently, overtly personalizing based on things like purchase history can actually achieve the opposite.Sometimes personalization can feel fake to customers or make them worry about what you are doing with their personal information. In general, you should keep personalization genuine and only use it if it will actually benefit the customer. The key to achieving this is subtlety. Instead of saying, “You bought X so you might be interested in buying Y as well!” try simply sending them an email advertisement for Y.
- Calls to Action
- Images (buttons) vs. Text (links)
- People are more likely to click on buttons in emails rather than links. If all your calls to action are in images, however, and customers’ email clients block those images, your email success will be limited. The best compromise is to have some calls to action in buttons and some in links as backup in case the images don’t make it through to the recipient.
- HTML vs. Text
- Text-based emails have the best chance of being delivered to inboxes (HTML-based emails can end up getting marked as spam or blocked), but they are far less attractive than HMTL emails.
As a rule of thumb, only use HTML emails if the following apply:
-You are emailing a loyal customer base that trusts you enough to want to download your images.
-The product(s) you are trying to sell must be seen to be fully appreciated or understood.Just remember that if you do choose to use HTML, set a fixed width that is appropriate for the email so that customers are not forced to scroll left and right to see the images and read the message.
- Navigation menus vs. No navigation menus
- The most important consideration when deciding whether or not to include a navigation menu is whether or not you want the email to look consistent with your website. Many times marketers find that keeping their communications consistent helps to establish legitimacy and trustworthiness with their customers. Consider testing emails that have navigation similar to your site to remind past customers of their shopping experience and prepare future customers for their upcoming visit.
- Above the fold vs. Below the fold
- The term “above the fold” is used to describe the portion of the email that a reader can view without needing to scroll down into the email.Above the fold, make sure to include a header, contact information for your company, a navigation bar (if you choose to include it), a greeting, and the primary message. Below the fold is the proper place for your secondary and tertiary messages.
Don’t forget to include customer testimonials as well. Sometimes these are best placed prominently above the fold, and sometimes they work well below the fold because they encourage email recipients to read further into the email.
- Incentive vs. No incentive
- Offering incentives has become very popular in email marketing, but in most cases they should only be used to drive sales, not to generate feedback or mine marketing data. The types of offers that give discounts off of purchases or free gifts in exchange for customer feedback surveys often generate plenty of responses, but the data gathered is often of very poor quality.
All businesses are different, so an incentive that works for one company may flop with another. Just remember to test incentives; don’t simply assume they will have a positive impact.
- Subject Lines
- Straightforward vs. Teaser
- Email subject lines can either be straightforward (ex. “Save 50% on All Sweaters This Weekend Only”) or a teaser (ex. “Stay Warm with These Hot Deals”). Generally, bigger deals lend themselves well to a straightforward subject line, whereas smaller promotions can gain more interest with a vaguer subject line.
- Primetime vs. Non-primetime
- Prime email times occur earlier in the week (Monday through Wednesday) and earlier in the business day. Generally the “sweet spot” of email marketing is Tuesdays at the start of the business day or right before lunch. Be sure to account for this when you send email correspondences.Regardless of when you choose to send emails, remember that customers can get used to a certain rhythm. Once you figure out what day and time works best for your customers, make sure to maintain a reliable delivery time and a consistent delivery pace. Customers may be put off if they get an email three weeks in a row and then no emails for the next two months.
With more accessible resources, small businesses will hopefully have the direction they need to effectively test their email campaigns and optimize their results.
Note: This list of important aspects to consider when testing email is by no means all-inclusive. If you have recommendations for other aspects of your emails to test, make sure to leave a comment to share with the rest of our readers!
-KatePierce eCommerce Specialist