For any online business, optimized and effective email campaigns are a must. You can have the best business idea on the planet. But if subscribers or customers aren’t opening your emails – or worst, unsubscribing or making abuse complaints – you’re missing out on valuable traffic and potential revenue.
An optimized email campaign has to have a message or sell that resonates with your followers. But there’s just one problem: how do you know what will resonate in the first place? Of course, you can check analytics, see where the clicks are coming from and where they’re landing. But another invaluable way to optimize an email campaign is by testing two different emails with different approaches for the same piece of content or product – otherwise known as ‘split testing’.
But while split testing can be a game-changer in email campaign optimization, going in blind and testing any old emails can quickly become a waste of time and money. Here are five ways to ensure your split tests are relevant, effective, and informative.
1. Promotion vs Information
If you run a business that uses content marketing to promote and sell products, split testing along promotional and informational lines can show you a lot about the kind of email sell that will attract your subscribers.
Here’s an example. Say you run a fitness and nutrition brand that sells supplements and creates content to inform your customers about the best supplements for certain lifestyles and activities. If you wanted to run a limited promotion on a certain supplement, and create some content to go along with it, you can test two kinds of email: one that leads with the promotion and makes the content secondary, and another that is structured the opposite.
At first, it seems intuitively obvious that leading with the promotion will attract more clicks. But don’t be so sure – it’s common for subscribers to look at emails that lead with discounts with some suspicion. On the other hand, if a subscriber notices that a new piece of content has been written that really speaks to them, clicking through can become far more likely. In these cases, content created in response to current events tends to do especially well.
2. Do Sweat the Small Stuff
When running a split test, it’s important to remember that the details matter. A slight tweak to the subject line, a small alteration to the preview and a few edits to the body copy can make all the difference. This can be especially true when adding a few personal adjustments to your emails. Using your subscribers’ first names in the email subject can give the impression that your email was personally intended for them.
Research from Hubspot also shows that using a personalised sender name rather than a generic company name can boost open rates slightly. Giving this a go can tell you volumes about how much your subscribers care about the personal touch.
3. Get the Image Right
If you run a health or lifestyle site, image choice is key. What’s the message you’re trying to portray with the header image in your emails? Do you want to express positives or negatives? Are you looking at problems or solutions? Would it be helpful to make your header images gender-specific, using images with women for your female subscribers and those with men for your male subscribers?
Testing image variations can show you the sorts of visual accompaniments that are more likely to grab your subscribers’ attention.
4. Set the Tone
Similar to testing image variations, it’s important to know the tone of voice your subscribers are more likely to respond positively to. What kind of relationship are you trying to build with your subscribers? A professional one, formal in tone and content? Or a familiar one, in which you treat your subscribers like you know them personally?
Naturally, the kind of voice suitable for your subscribers will be inextricably linked to the type of business you run. But it’s rarely safe to presume. Split testing emails with different tones of voice and styles of writing can give you an idea of what is most likely to work going forward.
5. Change Up Your CTAs
Functionally, the Call to Action is the most important part of a marketing email. It’s the button that will get your subscribers onto the site, reading your content, buying your products and hopefully exploring other pages as well.
You might think that CTAs are the easy part – the hooks are in the subject line and copy, right? Not necessarily. Say you have a promotion on a product range and you’re trying to get customers to click through and buy. Your usual ‘Click Here’ and ‘Read More’ will be perfectly functional. But is it really exciting? Remember, if you’re the customer, this discount is yours.
Instead, you might want to be able to create a personal link between the customer and this promotion. Instead of ‘Click Here’, you could have noticeably better results by writing ‘Claim Discount’. This sets the expectation: the customer knows exactly what clicking through will do and why they want to do it. Even better, tailor it to them by writing ‘Claim My Discount’. Next time you have a promotion, experiment with your CTAs – the results may surprise you.