By Anne Holland, President
If your email marketing budget -- or allocated staff time -- is tighter than you'd like, how can you figure out which tests are worth conducting � and which won't move the needle?
Last month MarketingSherpa's research team conducted the largest-ever survey of email marketers in the world -- with 3,637 respondents. One of our critical questions was: Which creative email tests give the best ROI (return on investment)?
Here's one of the many results charts for you to review (see link at the end of this article for more):Chart: Email Tests � B-to-C Marketers Evaluate ROI
Source: MarketingSherpa, Email Marketing Benchmark Survey, November 2006
Methodology: This fifth annual survey was opened to selected MarketingSherpa reader lists on Oct. 26 and closed on Nov. 1, 2006. 3,637 total responses were collected from email marketers (2,492) and employees at agencies/ESPs working with email (1,145).
We chose the six most-common creative tests to ask about. The biggest result -- testing in and of itself increases ROI. In every case more than 50% of marketers improved ROI (even if only moderately) by testing.
My favorite result -- copy writing really, really matters. The top three best ROI tests were more to do with words (copy, offer, subject line) than they were with design or graphics.
Your Web design team (or IT department) and Web analytics departments also have to be put on notice. As this chart proves, the landing page (where clicks land) is critical. Which means your email department may in the end *drive* Web site development, instead of just linking to already-created Web pages. The email department has to have a heavy hand in the Web design team's ongoing tests and decisions. Email can't be an isolated department down the hall anymore.
This also means your email analytics are not complete at just open and click, you have to include Web data after the click. Luckily many email vendors have anticipated this and are either merging with or allying with Web analytics firms. The "single dashboard" movement -- wherein marketing results from multiple online channels are all shown in a single report -- is off to a flying start, even for smaller marketing organizations.
The only problem moving forward that I can see is how to integrate offline campaigns -- which ultimately must be included. But that's a battle that we�ll be in for the next five years or more.
As for 2007, if you're having a hard time getting a budget for the personnel or technology you need to conduct email tests, I hope the above chart is helpful. Too often senior management are prone to considering email something that's nearly "free and easy" instead of a marketing tactic you should invest in for significant improvements.
Perhaps that's the biggest goal of all for 2007 and email. Just test something, anything. Even a dinky test is worthwhile if you can use results to create a powerful chart for the next senior management meeting. Your goal: to prove email tests are worth investing more in.
We've known for a decade that email is a profitable marketing medium. Now it's time to start taking email seriously by dedicating more copywriting, staffing and technology to the medium.
My best wishes with your 2007 tests! Useful links related to this article