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BizReport : Email Marketing : December 17, 2011

10 email variables you should be testing

Despite the onslaught of social media and mobile, email marketing is holding its ground as one of the top marketing channels used today. Email messages must stand out in a crowded inbox or risk being renegated to the trash. How can this be achieved? By testing, testing and even more testing.

by Helen Leggatt

The vast majority of marketers plan to increase the size of their marketing budgets in 2012. Almost two-thirds of executives recently surveyed by StrongMail cited email as a channel they plan to increase budgets for next year.

A significant benefit of email is it's easy to test and refine. A simple tweak could result in additional clicks, opens or even extra revenue from subscribers.

Many email marketers are guilty of testing just the basics but there are far more variables than just the subject line, offer and copy.

To help you get more from your email testing I've put together a list of 10 different variables that can be used to fine-tune email campaigns and produce the best results possible.

1. Target audience

No amount of personalization or offers will get a disinterested recipient to open an email so make sure you hone your lists to ensure the target audience has been selected.

2. Personalization

Basic personalization is standard but testing a more in-depth approach by including previous order history or local area information can improve click-through rates.

3. Landing page

Even well-constructed and engaging emails can fall flat on their face if the landing page to which the reader is redirected fails to hit the mark. Expectations have already been set by the style and tone of the email and landing pages must continue this theme.

4. Call-to-Action

Consider testing an action-based call-to-action versus value-based. Other tests might pitch buttons against text links and placement of the call-to-action. Best practice is generally to place the call-to-action above the fold to avoid the need to scroll.

5. Time of Day

Whether sending a business or consumer email there will be a better day, and perhaps even time of day, to engage a target audience.

6. 'From' Field

Are open rates better when emails are addressed from a human, i.e. Dick Smith, or from a company?

7. Subject Line

Probably the most-tested variable in emails, and rightly so. After the introduction ('From' field) this is the start of the conversation and needs to generate enough curiosity and emotion to move the recipient to read the email content. Testing this variable may consist of subject line length, content, personalization and value.

8. Copy Length & Style

What works best for your target audience? Short and to-the-point, or informative and lengthy? Perhaps one font, or layout, performs better than another? Graphics or no graphics? And do remember to view emails with the graphics option turned on and off.

9. The Offer

There are different ways to express an offer and testing will reveal which has the most impact. Pitching free delivery against a discount, or a limited-time offer against a more open-ended alternative, may reveal interesting results.

10. Email Format

How does your newsletter render in different email clients and mobile browsers. An email that doesn't render properly is an email that won't be read.

Tags: a/b testing, email campaign, email marketing, email testing, email variables, html

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