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Sep 25, 2012

Marketing Research Chart: Most popular email elements to test

SUMMARY: Which email elements do you test most often? Which elements do your peers test most often?

Read on to see the most popular campaign elements to test, and then let us know which elements you test (and why) for a chance to be published in a future blog post.
Editor's Note: Share your top tips and tactics based on this marketing industry data for a chance to be featured in a future blog post. Include your advice on the MarketingSherpa LinkedIn discussion board, as either a comment or a link to your blog post where you offer advice based on this data.

Chart: Subject lines most popular email element to test

Q. Which of the following email campaign elements do you routinely test to optimize performance?

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Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chart

The impact subject lines have on open rates, and the ease in which marketers can substitute them, makes experimenting with subject lines the most popular email element to test. The subject line is the readers’ first impression, and needs to quickly grab attention as they scan their inboxes.

Successful subject lines are brief, branded and truthful to the intention of the email, so many marketers experiment with testing length, personalization and other factors.

Testing layout and images was also a popular component for marketers to test. While the time to change layouts, images, fonts and colors can be time-intensive, the results may lead organizations to discover how finding the right size and color of the graphical elements (such as calls-to-action) can positively impact conversion rates.

On the other end of the spectrum, mobile layout and images was the least tested email element among survey respondents. However, with the mass adaption of smartphones and tablets, look for the number of marketers testing mobile layouts and images to dramatically increase as we approach 2013.

On September 27, at 1:00 p.m. ET, learn how testing helped a MECLABS Research Partner overcome some very common -- but significant -- mistakes, to produce an even more significant result during the latest free MarketingSherpa webinar, "Email Marketing: How Overcoming 3 Common Errors Increased Clickthrough Rate by 104%."

And, for more charts and analysis of email campaign testing, see this free excerpt from the MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report.

Useful links related to this research

MECLABS Research Partners

Email Research: The 5 best email variables to test

Quick Lifts: 4 ideas to increase email clickthrough

Case Study: Creativity vs. clarity in email subject lines

See Also:

Comments about this Chart

Sep 25, 2012 - Prugh Roeser of The Devereux Group says:
Hi, I'm somewhat surprised at the relative positions of email specifics versus call-to-action (which I assume means "offer"), and target audience. Part of this may be due to how the question is worded and whether recipients view the whole email interaction as "test-able" or just campaign specifics. As an email marketer who came out of a direct marketing background, the target audience has always been viewed as the most important factor in an email success, followed by the offer (call-to-action), and then by creative specifics of the email such as subject line, copy, length, graphics, etc. There's a common-sense logic to this in the sense that the offer and email specifics won't matter if it's going to the wrong audience, and the email specifics won't matter if it's going to the right audience but with the wrong offer. On the other hand, if both the audience and offer are right, then the email specifics can be tweaked to communicate better.

Oct 09, 2012 - Ryan Cahill of Responsys says:
This chart is really interesting for 3 reasons: 1. It highlights common and critical limitations in marketing platforms today - subject line, copy/creative are the most tested because they are the easiest to test, but have the least impact 2. In my view this is only half the question - the partner chart for comparison should be a follow on questions "What would you test if you could to optimize? Now that would be a compelling comparison chart. 3. And most important, shows that the optimization elements that matter most ( personalization, segmentation and cross-channel(mobile)) are the least leveraged. Unclear whether this is a technical limitation or lack of focus, but either way this is a critical error. As a consumer I don't care what time of day you send me an irrelevant/generic email - if it sucks it sucks at any time of the day. This will be a great chart to redo in a year, I would expect to see this working its way to the reverse of these results to the benefit of all the companies responding.

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