Email marketing is one of the most cost efficient ways to market to prospects and customers. Are you taking full advantage of this opportunity and ensuring that you make the most of every touch? To do this, you need to really understand your audience, and know what is considered of value to them. Even more, you need to understand preferences and performance drivers when it comes to emails received.
Understanding Your Audience
Do you know what day, what time of day or even how often you should send your emails to members of your database in order to maximize performance? Do you know where you should place a button, what you should offer and what colors your audience responds best to? While assumptions are a great way to get your email efforts started, they should not be your operating norm.
When it comes to email marketing one of the most significant performance drivers is understanding your audience and tailoring your emails to appeal to their likings. While, you won’t know what works best with your audience immediately, you can use variable testing, also known as A/B split testing, with each of your emails to ensure ongoing insights and increased sophistication.
Best Practices for Variable Testing
With the right tools for tracking and a strategic plan in place, you can easily begin testing key variables, such as open rates, clicks and conversions, in your emails. When implementing variable testing, there are a few key best practices to keep in mind to ensure the results you receive are valid and the outcome accurately portrays your audience’s preferences.
- Test One Variable at a Time: When it comes to testing emails, it is important that you only test one variable at a time so that you can get an accurate understanding of how the variable affected your email performance. For example, you can test the “from” name of your email, and gain insight into which your audience responds best to by analyzing the open rates. Once you have identified the top performing “from” name, you can apply it to future emails and in the next email test a new variable, for example the subject line. By limiting each test to one variable, you will be able to accurately assess the results of your test and fully understand how simple changes can affect your email performance.
- Have a Large Enough Test Group: In order for your test to be accurate, you must have a large enough sample size. For email variable testing, a sample size of 500 is good, but could be considered on the low side. The larger your sample size, the more likely your results will be statistically accurate. This means, if you don’t have enough members in your database, the results you experience may be inaccurate and send your email marketing strategies in the wrong direction.
- Randomly Select Members of Your Test Groups: When splitting up your recipient list for variable testing, do so randomly. If using an email marketing platform, it is likely it will have a random list generator function. If, on the other hand, you need to manually select members, make sure you sort them in a way that it is truly random. For example, it is not recommended that you sort by company name or titles, as you are likely to have too many similar contacts in each list. However, if you sort by email address or last name, you are more likely to have a random sample.
- Track and Analyze Results: It is important to monitor what variables you have tested and how they have changed your email marketing results. To do this, it is recommended that you keep a log of the variables you have tested for each campaign, the results you saw and any observations you have made along the way. Doing this will help you keep track of what you have tested and provide great insight into what you should test to continuously improve results.
Test and Test Again
Email marketing continues to evolve, and so does your audience, so once you’ve tested, test again. The more you test, the more insight you will gain into your audience and the better your emails will perform. Get creative with your testing and test everything from design, layout, subject lines, content length and format, personalization, offers and frequency, to colors of links, button designs, graphic usage and more. You might be surprised how even some of the smallest variables can truly impact the performance of your emails and can help you to continuously boost your email marketing results.
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