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Test and Measure Your Email Marketing

One of the most repeated mantras of marketing is "test and measure". Marketing professionals are constantly testing their emails, newsletters and offers to find out what is most effective for generating results for their business. But testing and measuring isn't just for big companies with full-time marketing staff - you can test your own email marketing campaign quickly and cost-effectively by following a few simple steps. 

With the email communication you send out to your clients and prospects, you probably make decisions regarding subject lines, content and even the sending time based on your own personal experiences. While this may work well enough for you, have you thought about how much more success you may have if you based these decision on the data that has been collected directly from the recipients of your messages?

For example, you might send your newsletters out during the afternoon because it suits your schedule, but your target market may be more likely to open your emails if they receive them in the morning. If you already have been conducting regular tests into your email marketing you'd know this and could therefore adjust your scheduling accordingly. This would then in turn increase the open rate for your emails.

Here are some of the most important elements of email marketing campaigns, which you can easily test:

  • Subject line - test what types of subject lines increase your open rates
  • Day and time sent - when you send your email marketing can have a huge impact on its success, so test different days and times
  • Content - find out if you can receive greater response rates by sending emails with content specific to particular groups, such as different featured products for different sectors of your database
  • Greeting - test to see if your audience responds better to a short welcome letter from you or a simple personalised "hello"
  • Links - test your link text, size, colour and placement to see what gets the best results for your campaigns
  • Offers - send different offers and try various wording or placement of offers to particular groups to see which is most effective for creating action

If you have the time, you can even go so far as to test the colours and layout of your email, the length of the stories and even the text sizes. However, the basic points mentioned above are the most important aspects of your email marketing that can and should be tested on a regular basis.

So how do you perform the testing? Here are the 7 simple steps:

  1. Decide on the element you want to test - only choose one thing at a time, such as the subject line, otherwise your results will be too hard to measure
  2. Create a control email - create your email as you usually would and repeatedly keep the element you are testing the same (ie. use the subject line you have used for your previous campaigns)
  3. Create your test emails - create two (or the number of variants you want to test) other emails that are exactly the same as the control email. Then change the element being tested in each version (ie. both test emails have a different subject line to the control email)
  4. Split your database into sections - randomly divide your database into groups for each of the emails you have (ie. a group for the control email and other groups for each of the test emails) and choose which email will be sent to each section
  5. Send out your emails - schedule and send your emails as usual
  6. Track results - using the reporting system in your database marketing system, you will quickly and easily be able to tell which email was the most successful by analysing the open rates, click throughs and the actions taken by the recipients
  7. Make appropriate changes - based on the results of your testing, you can make the appropriate changes to that particular element for your next email marketing campaign

As you can see, there isn't too much extra work involved in testing but it can have a significant impact on the results of your email marketing. Because it is so simple, you should continue to test the major elements of your emails, such as subject lines, day sent and offers, at least once every few months. This way, you can keep abreast of the changing preferences of your target market and get your email marketing really working hard for your business. 

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