June 4, 2009, 12:00 AM

E-mail marketing expert offers tips for testing campaign effectiveness

Do large images in e-mail marketing campaigns help or hinder the marketing message? That’s just one of several things marketers should routinely test, says Kelly Lorenz, e-mail marketing strategist at Bronto Software.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Do large images in e-mail marketing campaigns help or hinder the marketing message? That’s just one of several things marketers should routinely test, says Kelly Lorenz, e-mail marketing strategist at Bronto Software Inc., an e-mail marketing services provider.

“Testing can be a powerful tool to move your e-mail marketing program forward,” Lorenz says in a posting on a Bronto blog.

Before beginning an e-mail marketing campaign, Lorenz offers the following insights to typical preparatory questions:

1. Am I testing for the sake of testing or testing to learn? This may seem like a dumb question, but all too often the plan for next steps post-test are not put in place, making testing moot.

2. Am I ready to implement results of the test? As a follow-up to the first question, you need to have a plan in place to implement and scale the result of the test. Whether that means a small tweak or a massive overhaul, you have to be ready.

3. How do I know when a result is conclusive? After testing, you should be taking a hard look at your metrics and determining what margin decisively proves the end result.

4. How many times will I test an element of the program/campaign before declaring a winner? Testing an element, like a subject line, one time is often not enough to draw conclusions, but how many times makes sense? The answer to this question will be based on your individual business model (and through testing).

“After you have answered these questions, it’s time to establish a plan for which elements you will test,” Lorenz says. “It’s important to only test one element at a time so the results do not get muddled.”

She offers the following tips for conducting tests:

A) Time of day or day of week – Have you always sent e-mail Monday morning at 7a.m.? Maybe it’s time to try 3 p.m. or sending on Tuesday instead if you’re seeing low open and interaction rates.

B) Personalized subject lines - Some e-mail recipients respond more than others when their first name or other identifier appears in an e-mail subject line. Conduct A/B tests to see if a personalized subject line works.

C) Calls-to-action, which can include preheaders and moving Gif file images. A preheader at the top of an e-mail message, for example, might invite e-mail recipients to “shop now” with a link to a special promotion related to content of the main e-mail message. But marketers should test multiple versions of strong and passive calls-to-action to see which produce the best click-through rates.

D) Images/graphics - If you are using a large hero image, is it taking away from the main message of your e-mails or should you include many images to create an experience with your brand? Or does an “image-light” e-mail work best?

E) Products/sales message - Would placing more emphasis around education and information increase your sales? Don’t be afraid to mix up your e-mails once in awhile.

 

F) Landing pages – Test whether sending subscribers directly to product pages increase conversions.

“At the conclusion of the test, implement what you’ve learned and move on to the next element to test,” Lorenz says. “Never test once and be satisfied with the result as you can always improve on the status quo.”

 

 

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