E-mail Marketing: Test for Success
In setting the stage for the session “Testing Tells the Story: Using Analytics to Improve ROI” at ACCM held earlier this month in Chicago, moderator Patti Freeman Evans, a retail analyst with Jupiter Research, pointed out that there’s a direct correlation between e-mail marketing performance and e-mail testing.
She then turned the podium over to Doug Williams, director of marketing for outdoor products catalog Sierra Trading Post, who detailed some specific tests he’s run and lessons learned from each.
* Wait for results. While e-mail marketing often can allow you to make quick decisions about a program’s fate, Williams cautioned not to act too quickly. To see whether a 10 percent-off coupon or free shipping offer, both for orders totaling more than $75, would garner a better response, he ran an A/B split test that launched at 2 a.m. one night to a small sample size.
When he checked the results at 8:30 a.m. the following morning, the free shipping offer was winning the test, so he instructed his team to set up the creative using that offer for a full scale launch that evening. But it would turn out that he was acting too quickly: On a whim, he checked the test again eight hours later, at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, and found that the discount offer ultimately had outperformed the free shipping offer. But it was too late to change the creative and still launch the e-mail campaign that day.
* Don’t waste good creative. Sierra Trading Post often will launch an e-mail campaign on a Monday, and find that 75 percent of recipients don’t open it. Williams admited that the e-mails could be getting trapped in spam filters or simply are deleted. But on the chance that customers don’t see the message, he sends it again on Friday to the 75 percent that haven’t opened it. Although the open rate usually is low--no more than 5 percent usually--Williams said during his presentation that clickthrough rates for those who open the second e-mail are much higher than normal.