How to Test Your Marketing Emails

Testing your emails can mean different things. I’ve always encouraged frequent testing of subject lines, copy, images, and links to try to improve the efficiency of your emails. And when I do, I’m usually talking about testing them on live users, using one of your mailings as a test and applying the findings to future emails.

Why do we “live test” our emails? Why don’t we have designated testers who can do this for us so we don’t have to “waste” a live mailing?

These are questions that I hear from time to time when talking to people who are new to email marketing. The questions are fair. For many things, such as web design and other forms of messaging, we test things before they go out to the public. But with email we prefer to use all or part of our subscriber group to test.

So what’s the difference?

For one, email is easy to test live. We have tools at our disposal that make it easy to send two versions of an email to a small subset of our list and send the winner to the remaining subscribers automatically.

Second, we test emails on live users because that’s who the email is for. The marketing team that creates the email is too close to it. They won’t have the ability to see it through the eyes of the public. Nor will anyone who is used as a regular “tester”. An email must be seen through the eyes of the subscriber. And so we rely on true subscribers to steer us in the right direction.

Test your emails in real time, with real people, and you’ll get the most applicable results. There is nothing worse than testing something on the wrong group of people and learning the wrong thing.