5 Tips to Consider for Effective Email Testing 

When managing email campaigns, you can often feel pressured to get the next campaign out the door, as ultimately - there is revenue attached to this. 

Not pressing send means a loss in revenue, so you may find yourself in the continual process of building and sending. 

Performance seems OK - so you fall into a continual cycle. 

If you're happy just maintaining this, then by all means continue to do so. 

But I wouldn't recommend it. 

As far as I'm concerned, you should always make time to test and optimise your campaigns. 

If performance drops off the back of this, it just further reinforces that what you're currently doing clearly works. 

The aim of this blog post therefore, is to give you tips on how to test your email campaigns as effectively as possible. These insights should hopefully help you optimise your performance (whilst also pleasing your boss). 

So, I hope you can benefit from at least one of the points below. 


Test One Element at a Time

It may sound obvious, but if you're under time constraints - you may decide to start bundling things together when you commence testing. For example, you may want to run an A/B test on subject lines, but also test the best time to send. 

Ultimately, if you do this, your results will be skewed somewhat - as you'll be unable to isolate the key factor influencing the results seen. You'll then need to spend a greater amount of time conducting further testing to identify the key performing element. 

Deciding which element to start testing first depends on your own KPIs for the channel, and what you think would make the most significant impact if optimised effectively. 

The below elements can all be tested in isolation.


Testing Subject Lines

You can test a variety of subject lines to increase email open rates.



Testing Preview Text 

Again, alternating preview text may further encourage email opens. 



Optimising Send Day/Time

Your customer base may be more responsive to emails sent on specific days. 

What is the optimum time to send your emails? 



Optimising Email Body

You could trial changing as much or as little content and imagery as you like. 

For example:

  • CTA - Alternate the wording on call-to-actions (buttons and in-text). 
  • Change the imagery - Does the change in image used increase clicks? 
  • Content - You can test various writing styles or try alternating the copy. 




Email Layout

Changing the layout of your email template may prove to increase CTR. 



Finally, make sure you consider the changing behaviours of consumers.

Testing these elements on rotation, before testing again will ensure your email campaigns are continuously optimised. 


Don't Just Benchmark Yourself Against the Competition  

It's very common to start obsessing over what your competition are doing - especially if they have a bigger share of the market than you do. 

Therefore, copying email content strategies and template layouts of close competitors may seem a legitimate strategy to take in order to increase revenue generated from your mailings. The main issue here is that there is no certainty that this method is the right one to take - as you don't have visibility of their performance metrics. 

Imagine your competitor runs a 'Summer Sale' campaign. 

While in your eyes it might be aesthetically pleasing, it may have actually performed to the contrary. 

Sticking to what you can change and optimise, is therefore the best strategy to take when it comes to improving the performance of your email campaigns. 

I would advise keeping a close eye on the competition though - as it's always good to know what kind of things they're trying. 


You're Only as Good as Your Last Best Campaign 

So, as you aren't comparing against the competition, start benchmarking against your highest performing campaign result - but ensure you isolate this by campaign type. 

For example, you should always try and better the performance of the strongest newsletter you've sent.

Focusing on the factors you can influence will only serve to better the results you see. 


Test the Unexpected (Don’t Get Stuck with Using Your Own and Other People’s Opinions as Validation for Success)

Although you and your team will be very equipped with the necessary design and content skills, it's important to remember that you are not your target audience

Producing email templates that follow best practice, whilst being aesthetically pleasing to the eye, may not always resonate with your target customer base. And, as consumers ourselves - you'll be aware that our minds are always changing regarding the things we do and don't like. 

So, take the time to go beyond your comfort zone with regards to email design and content styles and start creating and testing designs which differ from the norm. 

You might just find that the template designs which contrast your usual style perform even better. If not, just see it as a useful exercise for reinforcing your own confidence in your current email design. 

You don't know unless you try! 


Document the Process and End Results

Testing takes time, and when you have pressures attached to hitting revenue targets, it's often hard to get buy-in from senior management when it comes to taking time out to test things such as subject lines and copy. 

Therefore, when it comes to testing, a useful method to adopt would be documentation of the process as a whole. This way, you've got proof of your actions and can really demonstrate the advancements in performance you've achieved. 

This includes: 

  • The core objective of your testing - e.g. to increase open rates/ CTR for mailing X
  • What elements you are testing - e.g. subject line A and B / copy A and B etc. 
  • Date of testing and duration
  • Past performance vs present performance (% difference)

This way, you have visible proof of the testing process, whether the outcome be positive or negative. 

Even if performance reduces, it just strengthens your existing strategy. Therefore, no results are bad results when it comes to testing. 

That's my motto anyway...


So, when you next decide to commence testing for your email campaigns, I'd initially clarify the core objective of your testing, and the elements involved in this. Set these from the get-go, so you can always check back to assess your progress. 

And, enjoy it! Testing can often feel like a chore but it doesn't have to. 

Try thinking outside the box, trialling new send times, content and designs. See it as an opportunity to be creative. 

But again, just make sure everything you do relays back to your core objective. 

And on that note, I'll let you get on with it! 


June 12, 2018|

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