by Jeff Rice, Senior Research AnalystMarketing Research Chart: Email campaign elements routinely tested to optimize performance Q. Which of the following email campaign elements do you routinely test to optimize performance? Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chartSUBJECT LINES
Subject line experimentation is the most popular element to test. Its number one ranking is because of its impact on open rates and the ease at which marketers can substitute subject lines.
As you experiment, treat a subject line as if it was a mini-billboard. Subscribers are scanning through their inboxes as fast as they speed by billboards on the highways. Help them sort their inboxes by clearly describing your email’s purpose and explain why it is worth their time to read.
A number of slight modifications can be made to your subject lines. Try inviting the subscriber to take action, or front load the sentences with your brand name or buzzwords. Experiment with the subject line length, personalization or current event.
Best practices to bear in mind include accuracy, brevity and branding. The goals remain to earn an open and to set up the headline found inside the message.MESSAGES
The first words a subscriber reads after opening an email message should reaffirm the subject line value proposition. The connection from subject line to email should be immediately recognizable, especially for those subscribers viewing in the preview pane. Readers will skim headlines and sub-headlines to confirm the content matches their expectations.
Reliable testing practices center on a brand’s voice, personalization and long copy vs. short. Consider altering the message format to make it easy for the reader to follow a thought sequence. Use blogging strategies like "top ten tactics" or "five easy steps to success" to focus the reader in educational messages. Write in the active voice to push the reader along with lively language.
For most attention-deprived readers, the copy only transports them from point A to point B. As long as you do not interrupt a thought sequence with roadblocks or detours between the headline and the call-to-action, the user's trip will be successful. CALLS-TO-ACTION
Your call-to-action is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. This final element will determine if your communication initiates a positive action by the recipient.
There are two general ways to test your call-to-action. The first is the offer itself. You can test which offers are most successful with different segments of your readership.
The second is the wording of the offer. Will a $50 off a purchase offer do better than a 15% off your total purchase? You may hypothesize that the $50 off coupon is more tangible and, as a result, have a higher redemption rate. The only way to find the truth is to test your specific audience.
Finally, the offer placement is a prime area to look for improvements. Try moving the call-to-action button up further in the email message. Discover if it increases clickthroughs because of its location or if it will disrupt the reader’s thought sequence and discourage action.
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. Useful links related to this chartEmail Test: Shorter copy brings 100% more total clickthroughsEmail Subject Lines: Words, Order as Critical as Length2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report