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To Be Your Best, Test

Nov 27, 2012   |   2 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

Testing enables you to refine your content to boost reader engagement, response rates, and revenues.

However, as Mike Hotz on notes, while email marketers list testing as one of their top priorities year after year, “most do no testing at all.”

By not testing, marketers may be missing an enormous opportunity. Indeed, a company that could serve as a poster child for the value of testing is the Teaching Company, which has increased sales of its lecture series The Great Courses by significant percentages through continual and intensive testing.

As Matt Schifrin wrote of CEO Brandon Hidalgo’s methodology, his team “takes a surgical approach to direct marketing-and that means nonstop testing, online and off, of every message that customers see.” The Great Courses, said Schifrin, mails 50 million catalogs and flyers and sends out 25 million e-mails per year.

The aim of testing is to achieve maximum open, click-through, and conversion rates, and experts generally agree about the email elements that are most important to test, which include:

• From name
• Subject line
• Creative: layout, images, placement, colors, etc.
• Copy
• Offer
• Calls to action
• Landing pages
• Best time to send

After you’ve done the basics, try Corey Eridon’s 25 email testing tips including link placement, using a P.S. vs. no P.S., using a sender headshot for B2B emails, incorporating personalized information gleaned from social media, and providing “social proof” to support the attractiveness of an offer.

Segmenting your list also is recommended by many experts, including separating engaged from inactive readers, as well as segmenting by user demographics and email service provider. Each segment is then split, and two different test versions of an email are sent to each half. Analytics then comes into play, which should be in place before sending, to gather and analyze results.

In analyzing results, says Hotz, “Look beyond the numbers to find meaning. Even small percentage differences can mean large gains in response rates:”

Experts also advise testing only one element at a time. While Hotz advises you to keep it simple, he also warns against drawing conclusions based on one test alone. “Repeat tests where possible over a set time period. Aim for at least three controlled tests before drawing a meaningful conclusion.”

Email hygiene is another must-do to achieve the best test results. Prior to testing, make an effort to prepare the cleanest possible list-including the use of email validation and correction.

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