Emails are a powerful tool in B2B marketing. Whether your database is large or small, every organization should have an email campaign going at a given time. It could be a monthly newsletter, nurture cadence or a special campaign, there is always something going on in an organization’s email marketing. With all these efforts ongoing, it is important to ensure they are hitting marketing goals and engaging the audiences they are intended for. One way to do this is through email testing. Testing a variety of variables to see what engages audiences most and improves email performance overall. From increasing open and click rates to seeing more conversions take place, implementing an email testing strategy can get your organization results and take audience engagement to the next level. This three-pronged B2B email marketing testing approach will guide your team on the path to improved email marketing through a powerful email testing strategy.
Effective Email Testing Strategy
It is easy to jump right into testing email variables and measuring results. But like all B2B email marketing efforts, it is important to first form a strategy before implementation. Here are a few big-picture steps to forming an effective email testing strategy:
- Establish Testing Objectives: Know what you are going to evaluate for each email and why. For example, testing variables on newsletters might be different than nurture emails. Have a clear strategy and timeline for your goals.
- Predict Testing Outcomes: There is always a reason behind testing certain variables and thinking about the outcome of testing certain ones can help with strategy formation. For example, if a subject line is changed from what we traditionally use to “Top Industry Content from October,” it will increase the open rate by 5%.
- Define the Audience: Think about what has worked in the past for specific email lists and think about what needs to change from an email perspective to make that happen.
- Establish Goals: These goals should be measurable and obtainable. Is the goal to increase the open rate? Click rate? Ensure the variables being assessed help in reaching any set goals.
Email Variables to Test
With a B2B email marketing testing strategy solidified, it is time to define what email variables to test. Here are a few key email variables to test and things to consider.
- Subject Lines: This is likely one of the first variables that marketers think of to test. The subject line is a strong influence on the open rate and is a sign of how engaged the audience is with the email subject content. Testing variables can include brackets, personalization, emojis and even the length of the subject line.
- Email Copy Length: Different emails have different lengths. For example, the monthly newsletter might be longer than a simple new lead nurture email. But it is an innovative idea to test changes in email copy length and see how audiences react. Shortening an email newsletter and notching the “fluff” might keep the scrolling to a minimum and the engagement to a maximum.
- Send Time: Send time is also another common variable for marketers to evaluate, and a good one too. Various times of day may see different open and click rates. For example, sending an email early in the morning, like 7 am, might not see as many opens or clicks as sending the email during the middle of the day, like 1 pm. This variable can be tricky though. Different audiences engage at various times, and it always depends on a person’s schedule, which likely changes every day. There are a few best practices for testing send time, which you can read more about here.
- Send Day: Like send time, send day of an email is a key testing variable. Different days mean different things depending on an individual. It’s important to have a deep understanding of which days your audience engages with your emails the most, and the detail can only be discovered by testing the send days.
- Images vs. No Images: It depends on the type of email being sent, but another variable to look at is images. Certain emails might not be fit to include images and others might be designed to include them, but it can be worthwhile to see what happens if images are or are not included on those sends. Does it change the click rate? Is there less time spent viewing the email?
- Call to Action: One of the most principal elements of an email is the call to action (CTA). Testing different CTAs can provide many insights including what CTAs audiences interact with most, what CTAs do not necessarily resonate and what inspires them to act. Taking the action called out by an email is big time, so knowing what CTAs resonate and which do not can go a long way with email performance moving forward.
Email Testing Mistakes to Avoid
There are many things to do when it comes to B2B email marketing testing, but there are also a lot of do-nots. Here are four mistakes to avoid and what to do instead:
- Analysis Shortly After Testing: It is great to be eager to see how email testing goes, but sometimes being too eager can be detrimental to the overall results. Analyzing results one hour after the email has been sent yields different results than analyzing results a few days after testing. A best practice is to wait at least 24 hours after sending out the email and then analyze the results.
- Analyzing Too Many Metrics: Was the goal to increase the open rate? Increase click rate? Decrease unsubscribe rate? Whatever primary goal was set should be the primary metric analyzed. Did the testing yield the results that were aimed for? It is great if the non-primary goal was met but focus closely on the primary goal to ensure that one was met.
- Analyzing Too Many Variables at Once: This is one of the biggest mistakes B2B marketers make. Organizations want answers as quickly as possible as to what works best for their audiences when it comes to email marketing, but that is not how it usually works. Email testing takes time to narrow down the most effective components when it comes to email marketing. Analyzing too many variables can cause confusion. For example, if the goal is to increase open rates, focus on testing the subject line first. Do not move on to testing other email variables, such as the CTAs or image type until the most effective subject line was discovered and implemented. Establish one variable that is most effective before moving on to the next, which can often take several weeks to a few months depending on how detailed the email testing strategy and timeline are.
- Not Retesting Certain Variables: Proving what works for certain variables is a great step, but not retesting variables on occasion can affect performance. As audience preferences evolve, trends appear and change happens, what was once working before, might not be as effective as it is today. Retesting variables, such as the subject line, email copy and CTAs periodically can help ensure your organization is always delivering the most effective and engaging content to audiences.
Effective email marketing starts with a strategic email testing strategy. Ready to kick-start your email marketing efforts? Contact us today or request a free marketing consultation! We’ve helped many of our over 200+ clients elevate their email marketing efforts and reach their audiences.