3 Things Every Retailer Can Learn From Email Test Sends
In the age of the customer, personalization has become critical to retail marketing success. Email personalization, specifically, has proved particularly effective, improving clickthrough rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent, according to Aberdeen Group.
Despite the proven value of email personalization, however, many retail marketers continue to rely on inefficient legacy tactics. The creative teams churn out emails based on what worked last year or what merchandising wants to feature and highlight a single category (e.g., black dresses) or theme (e.g., casual shoes) for the day and "batch and blast" to their entire email list. They blindly repeat this process with each email, and perhaps — best-case scenario — they implement some form of segmentation, or incorporate product recommendations (e.g., “You May Also Like”) at the bottom of their email to “personalize” it.
To improve email marketing campaign effectiveness, some retail marketers employ A/B testing to help them identify which content they should send to whom. While A/B testing is helpful in understanding what content resonates best, test sends take this one step further, revealing new customer segments and building up profiles of each customer over time.
Here are three important insights you can glean through email test sends:
- Whether your creative is any good. Test sends help you identify whether your creative is going to resonate with the intended audience. If you have two versions of an email about pima cotton tops, for example, sending both out in test form to a small group of customers will tell you which piece of creative will perform better when you roll out the full campaign. Furthermore, the test send data empowers you to provide objective feedback to your creative team about what’s resonating with customers.
- What activity is incited and, therefore, who this email is good for. Imagine a piece of email creative for a department store that includes a top, skirt, shoes and handbag. As a marketer, you’d likely label all four items in the data for the email, sending the piece out to people who you think will like all four items. But maybe, based on the way the model is standing, all the action from this email campaign is driven by the shoes. Now you know it’s the shoes that drive all the activity and can reclassify the email based on that activity, rather than how the data was previously described, ensuring the shoppers most interested in shoes receive the email.
- Which products should be featured in your campaigns. I’ve talked to many retailers that have only ever exposed about 20 percent of their product catalog in email campaigns. Test sends can be highly valuable if you’re looking to feature new or underexposed products. When you feature new things, you learn more about your customers. For example, an office supply retailer may not know whether a customer that orders copy paper is a small business because most businesses order paper. However, customers that click on the Labor Laws posters in an email campaign can easily be identified as a small business.
Test sends are an incredibly powerful way to learn more about your customers and what creative and content will resonate with each of them. Along with enabling you to start thinking about the customer, not the content, test sends build profiles of each customer over time based on what's resonating most. And by conducting them in advance of a campaign, you can confirm who specifically is interested in a certain product or theme, and whether the email creative and content is compelling enough for a click!
James Glover is the CEO of Coherent Path, the email marketing calendar company for retailers.