Throw the testing rulebook out the window

29th June 2011 By Louise Stephens in Email design

Your clients are in the B2B sector so it’s best to send your email marketing campaign to them mid-week, right?

Not necessarily. Your company is unique so why should the usual rules apply? Your best bet is to test as much as you can. Here are ten easy-to-use ways to start testing your campaigns:

  1. Timing: Test out the time of day, the day of the week, the month, season and holiday period. Traditionally, you might not target a B2B client during bank holidays. But many business people check their emails over the bank holidays so it may pay to put the theory to the test.
  2. Top domains: Try comparing deliverability, open and click-through rates by domain (e.g. Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail). The results may help you determine what information you send or what subject line you use for each domain.
  3. Personalisation: Test the outcomes of using either ‘Hi’ or ‘Dear’, using personalisation within the subject line or other personalised content within your email.
  4. Behaviour: Divide your audience into engaged and disengaged. Try using the disengaged group (sensibly) to test responsivity to the amount of content, frequency of contact, channel (perhaps they now prefer to use Facebook for communication) or device (mobile handsets versus PC or mac) used.
  5. Existing customer data: If you have collected demographic data about your clients, why not use it? Test your audience by segmenting them by age, gender, lifestyle choice, how recent, how much or how frequently they buy, or by location and send them different campaigns.
  6. Subject line: Test out subject line length, clarity of copy, expression of benefit, personalisation or try out questions, commands or facts. Whatever it is, make sure your subject line is an honest representation of your email.
  7. Design: Test the call to action (‘click here’ versus ‘your ideal holiday location’), size and position of your call to action, images (size, position and relevance), the contrast, the layout and the length of your emails.
  8. Offer: If you are going to provide an offer or incentive, try out ‘free’, ‘win’ or ‘save’ and experiment with the type of offer (free postage, Buy One Get One Free, money off or a % discount) to see what works best. Try setting a time frame – “24-hours to buy” or test an open-ended offer. Test the value of incentives – will a low-cost prize work as well as a high-value incentive for your market?
  9. Channel integration: Does your audience respond to an email that is the replica of your website or is a tweaked version better received? Does tying it into a wider campaign help increase your open and click through rates? For example, you could issue a follow up email marketing campaign to remind your customers of a recent offer on a direct mail drop and test this against a purely email-based offer.
  10. From names and addresses: Try sending a campaign from a male name compared with a female name to benchmark responses. Do you get better response rates if the email is from the CEO or an account manager? Why not try testing a general ‘info’ send address against a named one?

Testing your emails – and testing them regularly – will help you refine your campaigns and improve your outcomes. Make time for it, set objectives and experiment.

Louise Stephens
About the Author

Louise Stephens

Louise is an email marketing consultant at little green plane. She advises and builds lasting relationships with our existing clients as well as handling all new business. Louise also conducts full demonstrations of our software and will advise on the right package for your business. Louise is passionate about email marketing and will happily train clients on a number of topics including; best practice, engaging your audience and getting the best return on your investment.