Leveraging Email Testing to Drive Response Rates
You have a beautifully designed email, it's on brand and hits all of your objectives, but when you hit send do you really know what happens? All the effort to get the email perfectly designed to your selected audience is pointless if it doesn't drive the desired results.
As an online retailer, it's easy to turn into an email mill, cranking out email after email, hoping one of the messages sticks and subscribers purchase. You're not doing your brand any favors if you aren't optimizing the content, design or user experience of the email itself or its landing pages. "Optimization" is a word that gets overused in the marketing industry, but what does it really mean?
Optimization focuses on results rather than subjective qualities or best practices. Optimization drives down costs for acquiring customers. Optimization generates incremental revenue from existing customers. You get these optimized results through testing, which requires you to create a learning culture in order to foster continuous improvement. The goal is to identify what resonates with your customers.
Start with your automation programs. If you're running any automation or trigger programs, you should test them quarterly at a minimum. Automation programs are a great tool to recapture revenue and drive incremental value, but they're too easy to set and forget. Even the simplest of changes — revisiting business rules and refreshing the creative — can have a huge impact.
Elements you can test are endless: offers, content, design, buttons, calls to action (CTAs), size of CTAs, subject lines, landing page content, layout … and the list goes on. On top of considering what elements to test is how to test. Using a small holdout group (let's say 5 percent) as a control and testing the new elements on the treated group can help determine whether the changes drove any incremental revenue. While changing a call-to-action button from blue to green may not change your email program, personalized and custom email content can drive higher response rates.
Ultimately, you're trying to drive conversion and engagement within any campaign. Test the elements that will move the needle often.
Does "we tested that, it didn't work" sound familiar? Don't buy it. What you found in your testing yesterday may not be true to your customers today. Email testing is a process for validating or verifying an idea about your email program or finding optimum solutions. In order to find optimum solutions, you have to challenge what you know because of the following:
- your assumptions are wrong;
- best practices aren't best; and
- optimum is only optimum today.
The consumer world is ever-changing; therefore, your marketing techniques and campaigns should be as well. Go back to that welcome email stream or abandoned cart email that hasn't been looked at in months (if not years) and test some of the elements within them. Keep on testing and continue that culture of learning throughout your marketing programs. You may find the next time you hit send will drive higher response rates and incremental revenue.
Melanie Davidson is the vice president of digital at Merkle, a CRM agency specializing in data-based marketing solutions. Catherine Jolly is a Senior Manager of Digital Strategy at Merkle.