(Guest writer: Téa Liarokapi)
A great email message consists of a plethora of things that, upon testing, could or could not work out.
Maybe you’ve got the perfect copy for your email marketing campaign, maybe you’ve personalized everything, and surely, you’re working towards this goal here:
However, researching your audience and creating engaging content, interactive email campaigns, or even emails tailored down to a tee won’t really work unless you have a solid email testing plan in place.
How will you work towards that impressive ROI and achieve all of your goals through testing your email marketing campaigns? And how can you be sure that your tests are going to give you meaningful results?
Well, you’ll need to craft an email testing strategy first.
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What Is Email Testing and Why Is It Necessary?
When it comes to email testing, the first thing one would think of would be A/B testing various visual elements of email marketing campaigns to ensure that everything works on every platform.
However, visual elements are only one aspect of email testing. CTA buttons, colors, fonts, send times, and design and delivery tests can and should be parts of your email testing strategy. This is why most marketers are after email marketing and marketing automation platforms that can offer testing tools like Moosend does.
Through an email marketing platform that provides email testing, you can ensure that the quality of the email campaigns you send out is exactly the one your brand is going for.
What is more, you can gather data to see what works, create an educated strategy, and ultimately provide the best customer experience.
What Are the Tools You Can Implement?
The most popular tools are the ones used for A/B testing. To implement A/B testing, you will need to create two emails that would be identical, apart from one key element. This is the element you need to test.
It could be anything, from your email subject line to your CTA button’s color, your headline, anything at all. The results will give you a solid idea about your recipients’ preferences and what works best for them.
Another category of testing tools is the one for those dedicated to testing one specific element. Such a testing tool could be a subject line tester that uses AI and machine learning to predict how your subject line will perform against others in your industry.
Lastly, the tools used for multivariate testing are also sought-after by most marketers. However, multivariate testing is a little more intricate.
Tools for multivariate testing are great for brands with a large email list that can provide a good statistical result. With multivariate testing, marketers can test many different elements at once.
But what elements should be part of your email testing strategy?
Crafting an Email Testing Strategy
To understand how and why your emails convert, you will need to determine the winning combination of elements that binds everything together.
You could use A/B testing for your email copy all you want and be stumped as to why your CTR is not what you’d expect. Your email testing strategy will allow you to take a data-driven approach and figure out exactly why this happens.
Determine the Elements and Objectives First
Your email testing strategy can – and should – include any elements you find essential to test, even if other marketers don’t see them as necessary.
For example, an email’s layout and subject line are important, but the email templates themselves and the frequency of your email campaigns are elements that are just as important.
A good rule of thumb would be to test anything that will help you reach the goals set by your conversion marketing strategy. Such elements include the time you send your campaigns, the images and colors that match your brand’s tone of voice and your product, your CTAs, or the links contained in your body copy.
The objectives you are going to set need to be SMART. As in:
Since the above elements differ for each brand and what they’re trying to achieve, you may need to create an email testing strategy that will show you how to improve your CTR or how you will lower your unsubscribe rate. The most common objectives tested are the following:
- Open Rate.
- Click-through-rate (CTR).
- Deliverability rate.
- Unsubscribe rate.
If the objective of your email marketing campaign is to raise awareness and create authority, a realistic metric would be the social shares your email content has. Tracking your sales conversion rate would be just as realistic if your objective is scoring more sales.
Study Your Audience
Testing something that your audience doesn’t care for can lead you back to zero. This is why creating customer personas is so important. It allows you to study your ideal customer profile and come up with personalized solutions for every segment of your audience. The results of that can be eye-opening:
Create your email testing strategy around your customer personas and what they love, or love to hate. After that, make an assumption and proceed with testing it.
If, for example, you need to see an improvement in your email opens, you can assume that your sending times or your follow-up strategy might be the issue.
Another thing that cannot be missing from your email testing checklist needs to be your audience size and the sample size you need. A large sample size doesn’t always mean better, and you don’t want to tire the entirety of your audience with countless email campaigns.
Just make sure to include all segments to have objective results that make sense.
Create an Email That Works
When I say “works”, I mean through all devices and email clients. You can’t have an email testing strategy without having a correct email first. Otherwise, your audience will opt out just because of the broken-down elements of your email instead of its content.
Again, studying your audience will solve this issue for you. What is your audience’s preferred email client, and how does that work for the email you want to craft?
For example, if you need to implement a testimonial video in your email marketing campaign, maybe consulting the board below is a good idea:
Not testing your elements before testing your email will lead you to gather inaccurate data, generate false assumptions, and take ill-informed steps.
The same goes, of course, for all elements you decide to test. If you choose to gather data and take steps on changing your subject line, make sure your test email is appropriately personalized.
According to the data you’ve gathered so far, make sure to create something useful that will contain no broken elements or faulty personalization fields that will look like “Hello [First Name]”, and work according to plan.
Create a Calendar and Organize Accordingly
After making sure your test email appears as it should across all email clients and devices and is correctly personalized, you need to create a calendar that will help you streamline the process and give you results that make sense according to your goals.
Again, the importance of picking out a proper email marketing tool is imperative, as you will need to have a platform that allows you to create and test quickly and easily. A platform with a short learning curve is crucial if you need to test multiple variants and adapt your strategy at the drop of a hat.
An email testing calendar and a robust platform will help you see results and collect data while you continue chasing other goals set by your marketing plan.
Make sure to utilize the power of even the most underused customer segments and collect data that will make sense. Now, it’s time to create your reports and share them with your team.
What was the email subject line that performed better? And why did it perform better? Did your sender name make a difference, or was it the fact that you changed the sending time?
Your data will answer all the questions you may have, and a second test can always support – or nullify – your claims, so don’t sleep on it. Especially if the results are of no statistical significance.
Email testing is something that shouldn’t be missing from your email marketing strategy or your marketing strategy as a whole.
You can test anything from segmentation tactics to how your audience perceives your copy, images, and colors.
Make sure to study your audience diligently and create an email testing campaign that makes sense to them. Create and send tests frequently to keep up with your audience. And test elements according to the testing method you use.
Finally, make sure to use metrics that will help you achieve your SMART goals and steer clear off vanity metrics like page views.
(This guest post is written by Téa Liarokapi for Hongkiat.com. Téa is a Senior Content Writer for Moosend (moosend.com), an email marketing and marketing automation platform, and an obsessive writer in general. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas – and cats – to play with.)