Email Marketing: 5 Things Worth Testing

Today’s marketers are testers. We need to constantly test new offers, new processes, new campaigns, new pricing, and new headlines. Consumer behavior changes faster than we can keep up, and we need to outthink and outperform our competition in the battle for attention.

Email is a tool that marketers have long found to be effective in boosting web traffic and sales. It’s also quickly becoming one of the easiest ways to test new things. It’s easily trackable, and gives you immediate results.

If you’re using email as part of your marketing strategy, here are 5 things you should consider testing with your next batch.

  1. Subject Lines – there are plenty of different things that you can test in your subject lines. You can test a new way of wording the same offer, using shorter subject lines vs. longer ones, and using punctuation or dollar signs. The subject line is one of the most important aspects of your email if your primary concern is getting more readers. Test a couple of subject lines and find out which one has the highest open rate.

  2. Images – using images in an HTML email can be a good way to make your email look better, but it can also have negative effects. First, it marks your email as marketing (I don’t include images in emails to coworkers or friends). Second, it can affect the way your email displays with certain email providers. I suggest testing the same email with no images to see which has a higher click-through percentage.

  3. Number of Links – I have personally found that the number of links in an email can have a direct impact in a reader’s likelihood to click through. There is no magic number. Too many and you run the risk of either confusing your message or annoying the reader. Too few and you run the risk of missed opportunities. Try testing an email with 3 links vs one with 6 and compare the click-through rate on each link. The key is getting people to the one place where you want them. A click-through to the homepage may not be as important as a click-through to the checkout page.

  4. Link Display – this is a new one. Are people more likely to click on a word that is hyperlinked or on a fully written our URL? I don’t know, but I would like to find out. Test it!

  5. Signature – this is an often overlooked aspect of a marketing email. Do you add a signature or not? I find that a signature at the bottom of the email makes the email look more formal and more personal, usually lifting the response. If you don’t include a signature, try testing one. If you do, try testing an email without one or using a different signature entirely. The CEO’s name might have a different kind of effect than a generic staff message.

The service that I use for all of my email marketing campaigns at the moment is iContact. They have a new split testing tool that allows you to easily set up multiple versions of an email and send the test to all our part of your list to find a winner.

And, through this offer, you can sign up with iContact and get started for free.

The Key to the Inbox

Marketers want it. Email delivery companies have it.

Email as a marketing tool continues to grow in popularity, and any company that is not using email to contact customers and prospective customers has missed the boat (though it's never too late to get started).  It is a quick and easy way to get in touch with a large group of people to let them know about anything.

A restaurant can get a list of patrons and email them about specials or new dishes. A pet supplies chain can email customers about new locations, promotions, and discounts.  An accountant can create an email newsletter for people to sign up for in order to receive tax and investing tips.

It has many different uses, and any company should be able to find at least one.  We've all seen how Groupon has used email to amass huge lists of potential customers which receive daily deals from companies in their area.

The key to email marketing is to do it in a way that does not anger people.  Spam rules being what they are, there are things that you must do in order to keep your lists current and active, and to ensure that your message gets read and clicked on by more people.  Find easy to follow tips for email marketing here.

I recommend finding an email delivery company that can help you.  They already know what it takes to get into peoples' inboxes, and they're doing it full time for all of their clients.  There are many of them out there, and the number keeps growing.

iContact, founded in 2003, is one that I personally recommend.  You'll notice them in my featured marketing services on the right hand side of my blog.

iContact is fairly inexpensive compared to some other providers, and make managing email as simple as can be.  You can create, upload, and edit lists easily.  You can manage the content of your emails without any knowledge of HTML or programming.  And they have excellent support which can answer your questions or assist you in anything that you need.

They have the key to the inbox, so borrow it from them instead of trying to fashion it yourself.  And get started communicating with consumers the way that they want to communicate.