Getting Started With Email Testing
Sometimes a simple testing plan is the smartest way to grow and retain your email subscribers. Columnist Eric Dezendorf offers tips on subject line testing, date/time testing, and more.
If you’re like many email marketers out there, you send your regularly scheduled batch and blast email to your entire list each day, week or month to your active segment of users. You crunch your opens and clicks data for each mail, and then move on to the next one.
Though this is a good start to your email marketing program, with a simple testing plan you can take your messaging to the next level.
Since you only have a limited amount of chances to connect with your users, it’s best to apply a small test to each email to maximize the results of your marketing efforts. Below are a few easy tests to get your started and a plan to keep you on point.
The Subject Line Test
The most obvious test is always the subject line test. It’s tried and true and can help you understand which type of subject works best for your list. In my mind, there are two main type of subject, one with a direct call to action, and one with more of a mysterious, intriguing message.
When you’re testing, think about what your goal is. Do you want to test one type against the other? Or do you want to test the wording in one type of the two lines?
Either way is fine, but remember to remind yourself which type of test you’re performing when comparing the results. Subject line testing is usually best measured by opens. However, if comparing a direct subject line to an indirect one, it’s usually good to keep an eye on clicks as well.
Content testing can be done in a multitude of ways, and it’s easy to get carried away. It’s best to constantly test and evolve one’s template as often as possible.
With content testing, try to focus on only one element at a time. Try doing simple things, like removing the navigation from one version of the email, or placing your call to action above versus below your main image.
If you’re pushing a sale, you can also test an offer, like free shipping against 10% off. The biggest pitfall to avoid with content testing is to try too much at one time. Two different creatives will muddle your results. Remember, you’re just after one piece of information.
The third quick and easy type of testing is date/time testing. Many email marketers fall into a rut of sending at the same time each day or week. This can be good so that your subscribers fall into a habit of expecting your email, but it’s also good to throw a gut check every once in awhile.
If you’re in the habit of sending in the morning, try a small deployment in the afternoon. If you send every Monday, try a Wednesday for fun. It can be surprising to see the differences between days and times for your send, so don’t hesitate to try 10% of your list out somewhere else to see if your results vary.
Put Your Testing Plan To Work
So, how do you implement your testing plan? Decide which of the three tests you’d like to perform and define exactly what you want to learn from your test.
It’s usually best to define a clear statement like, “I want to see if my click rate goes up or down if I remove my secondary content block.” Then decide how to test.
Though a pure 50-50 test can be enticing, I prefer tests be sent to 20% of the list, with the remainder going quickly after to the winner. This way, you can maximize the effects of the immediate results. In this method, you can easily perform a test each week and easily apply the learnings to the next week.
Remember, it’s called “testing” and not “science” for a reason. Just because one test worked one way doesn’t mean the same type of test the next week won’t show completely different results.
So, don’t become complacent. Keep testing and evolving your template and messaging to the next level so your content never becomes stale.
Also, remember to test one thing at a time. You spent a lot of time and energy to build your perfect template already, right? So don’t blow up the established work — just tweak one little thing at a time to keep improving and keep your emails fresh for your subscribers.
With a simple testing plan, you can make sure the maximum amount of subscribers are retained and actively engaged with your emails.