With all the elements that are out of our control in marketing (and in life), one thing you can do that’s completely within your power to significantly improve email campaign results is to conduct A/B testing. Interestingly, only just over half (59%) of companies say they use it as part of their regular email campaign process.
As a refresher, A/B testing is when you create two different email messages for a campaign (version A and version B), alter just one aspect, and send each version to a small, different portion of your database to determine which generated the best response. That “winning” version can then be sent to the rest of your list for improved results.
The A/B test isn’t only for testing content. It can test placement of your call to action (CTA), image ratio, and many other aspects of your email. The key is to have two identical versions of your message with only one aspect changed as noted above. That way, you can easily see the impact of the variable you are testing.
I’ve written before about the importance of A/B testing and how to apply it. Here are four more email elements you can A/B test for improved campaign results:
- “From” name/email address: A majority of people say they open an email based on the "from" name over anything else. That’s why this is an important aspect to test. For example, if you send a general invitation to an event or webinar from your standard company address, you might follow up that message with a more personal one from a high-ranking executive within your company. This approach might also work well if you’re a non-profit agency soliciting large donations. If you test this approach, be sure the name you use is one your audience will know or recognize. Tests have shown the perceived age or even gender of the name can impact open rates.
- Personalization: Including your recipient’s name in the subject line can increase opens over 14%. To take subject line personalization a step further, mention the recent item they purchased or the event you know they attended. In addition to the subject line, you might also include your recipient’s name in the body copy or graphic of the email itself. Best of all, these personalized elements can be easy to set up and automate with your email distribution software or provider.
- Demographics: If you’ve segmented your audience by gender, location, expressed interest, preferences or purchase history, you might test a message that is more customized to speak directly to them to see if this sparks more interest. (It should.) For example, if you’re targeting a specific region, including pictures of the recipients’ city may lead to more click-throughs.
- That crazy idea: You or your team might come up with a new approach, suggestion or “out of the box” idea. Don’t immediately fear or dismiss that your audience won’t go for it – test it with a small sample set of your audience to see what the results are. Who knows, your creativity may lead to an influx of prospects who respond well to your novel approach. If not, and the idea is a dud, you’ll have actual data to show why the tactic should not be repeated. This concept is especially important in an era of over-saturation where everyone is bombarded by advertising every single day. You need to stand out, so test that new idea on a small sample.
If your company is among the approximately 40% who do not conduct A/B testing, now is the time to give it a try. With these example elements, testing and applying some science (not rocket science) to your campaigns should lead to improved results. You can even make a game of it trying to beat your results each time.
As always, we stand ready to offer our support with all your email initiatives.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.