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Split Testing Emails; Why You Should And How It Can Help

September 26, 2011

I know you’ve heard this over and over again about split testing but I can not stress enough how important it is to constantly fine tune your email marketing campaigns in order to improve them. Below is a list of suggestions to get you started.  It is by no means a complete list and can be tweaked to fit your particular industry. From Line: Common sense will tell you that people are far more likely to open an email from someone they know.  That being said you should still test this.  See if there is a difference in open rate if it comes from a company name rather than an individual in that company.  If there is a marked difference use the method that is most popular. Subject Line: The subject line is the first thing to catch the reader’s eye so it is vitally important that this is both interesting and engaging.  Try split testing the subject line with one that is very simple and straight forward and another that is more ‘quirky’.  Or maybe one includes a discount while the other includes a deadline. Content: Once you have enticed the reader to open your email you need to make sure that you deliver something of relevance to them.  This not only makes them want more but also prevents them from unsubscribing from your list.  I am a firm believer in giving them what they asked for.  If you told them that they would receive special offers and discounts that’s what you need to write about.  If they are expecting to see educational/how-to pieces then make sure that’s what they get.  Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t split test the content. If you normally tell your readers about upcoming specials why not send half your list certain specials and the other half different specials.  By monitoring the click thrus you will be able to see which of the specials were more popular.  Armed with this information you can then promote more of what they want to see. If your emails normally contain editorial topics of interest these can be tested by including only part of the article; have a link to a landing page with the rest of it and see how many people were interested enough to want to read more.  Split test this by using two different topics.  You could send Topic A to 50% of the list and Topic B to the other 50%.  The following month switch them over and send Topic B to the ones who read Topic A the previous month. Similarly you can include the same topic in all emails but lead into it differently.  In one batch it could be a paragraph summarizing the article, in the other it could be just a sentence and an image. You will soon begin to see what interests your audience more. Calls To Action: Before you even put an email marketing campaign together you should have an overall strategy of what you expect from it.  Is it merely a reminder of your existence or do you want to actually make a sale right there and then?  Whatever it is can be influenced greatly by the options of interaction you give to the reader.  If you are selling products or services split test the ‘buy now’ button.  See if a button works better than a line of text.  Does a button with an image get more clicks than plain button?  You are not going to know unless you test. Color: One more thing to think about is color.  We all have a color scheme that we follow on our marketing paraphernalia and most of us carry this through to our email newsletters.  Why not shake things up and split test your email; one with your traditional colors and one with more vibrant colors? As I said at the beginning, this is not a complete list but it should give you enough information to help you get started.  

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