Email Marketing & Testing for Success

Is your email marketing working for you?
Email Marketing - Analytics
Email Marketing – Analytics

Why is email marketing successful?

2.9 billion people have access to email, making email marketing is one of the most powerful resources for businesses to keep in touch with their customers and generate leads.

Curating a valuable email list, and ensuring that your e-newsletters entertain without overwhelming your contacts, are useful practises for any organisation. But how can you tell if they’re working?

How can you tell that your email marketing works?

A/B split testing is a useful way to investigate performance of an email marketing campaign. An A/B split test involves sending two versions of an email to sample groups of your subscribers and seeing which performs better. If email A performs better than Email B, you can then send email A to the rest of your subscribers, and take what you’ve learned from the successful email forward to future e-newsletters.

Periodically running tests on your email marketing campaigns will let you continually improve your performance with your subscribers. A sequence of tests, each examining one aspect of your campaign, will allow you to refine your emails until they perform in the optimum way for you.

Select a test

How will you test your campaign? Bear in mind that even very subtle changes can be valuable to track. The time of day and the day of the week you send out your emails are often tested, but there are other things to consider, too. Variables that can be useful to test are as diverse as the copy in your subject line, the location and presentation of calls to action within the email, your visual design and imagery – even font size and colour.

You should also ensure that your sample groups for both Email A and Email B are large enough to make your statistics valid. If you have a large email list, this might mean only using 20% of your subscribers, sending each email out to 10%. But to gather valid data from a smaller list, the A/B test might need a 50/50 split of all of the subscribers.

Choose your question

In order to provide valuable data, each test should answer one question. Focusing on one metric per email will allow you to gather valuable data. What is most valuable to you? The open rate, or the click-through rate? Are you looking for revenue or particular conversions?

You will need to formulate a question that matches up a test variable with a metric that is valuable to you. You could be asking: which day will open rate be higher – Monday or Friday? Which subject line produces a higher open rate? What headlines lead to higher click-through rates?

Success is more than testing

You should be careful to replicate the same conditions for both emails, so that the data is valid. If you want to find out which font colour gets a better click-through rate, but you send Email A on a Monday and Email B on a Tuesday, you won’t know whether it’s the font colour or the day of the week that’s changing your result.

Remember, too, that sometimes ‘secondary’ data will be valuable to you. You may run one test to see which subject line gets the highest open rate, because you’re looking to see whether your email marketing is helping to promote your brand. You may find that while Email A gets a higher open rate, Email B generates more clickthroughs. It’s up to you to decide which email promotes your organisation better. Email A may have performed better on the test, but Email B leads people through to your site, which could be better for you.

David McElligott
Web Developer
Date Posted
13th November 2015

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