The Ins and Outs of Email Testing

triggered-emailsDespite the money, time, and numerous MBAs that have gone into studying email marketing, your customers are a unique dataset. The subject headers, copy content, and types of multimedia that your customers respond to may be different from another company’s. The only way you will know that you’re getting the most from advertising by email is by testing your emails.

When to Test Your Emails?

Every time you change an aspect of your email campaign, you should check the effectiveness. Look for changes in open rates, click-throughs, and conversions to sales. You can also check unsubscribes.

How to Do an A/B Test

A/B testing is simple yet important. Split your list in half, and then send each half a version of the email you want to test. It’s best to limit the number of factors that could affect why your customers respond differently to the test emails, so only modify one aspect of the email to test at a time, like the subject header. ¬†Further, only split a group that is demographically similar and send the emails at the same time.

What to test?

Some important variables that affect how customers respond to an email include:

  • Short or long subject header
  • One column or two column format
  • HTML or plain text
  • Images or no images
  • Size and placement of images
  • Color of link text – standard blue or another color that pops? Or not colored, just underlined?
  • Embedded or linked multimedia
  • Time of day sent
  • Day of the week sent
  • Amount of text overall
  • Length of email — do you need to pack everything important above the fold, or do your customers respond well to skyscraper emails?

A few more tips

Emails ‘trend,’ just like Twitter hashtags, as they are saved and forwarded, so check these rates over time: an hour after you send, the days following, and up to a month later.

  • Use short surveys on your webpage, social media, and in-store to find out what is important to your customers.
  • If you are going to make a big change in your media campaign that affects readers — like discontinuing a mailing list, or changing coupon fine print — give readers a heads up in advance, and respond to their comments.
  • Keep track of your most successful emails and how they measure up against your company’s goals with regard to email marketing revenue. Have a goal for your email marketing campaign and eliminate email marketing tactics that don’t make the cut.
  • Testing your emails across platforms by sending them to colleagues and friends. There are also web tools to do this for you.

Email is a less forgiving format for HTML and CSS code errors than websites. Validate your code in your editor, or with this tool .

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