January 28, 2014

Marketing Research Chart: How do you know the most effective layout and images for your marketing sends?

SUMMARY: A 152% increase in revenue per email from minor template changes.

As I reviewed and approved the session titles and descriptions for Email Summit 2014, these results from mobile accessories company ZAGG got me thinking.

How many marketers routinely test email layout and images to learn what really works for their audience?

Read on to see the data for yourself and learn which email campaign elements are most (and least) frequently tested by your peers.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, we asked:

Q: Which of the following email campaign elements do you routinely test to optimize performance? Please select all that apply.

View Chart Online

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

Email is more than just words

As the title of a 2009 documentary suggests, advertising creative can pretty much be broken down into two things — "Art & Copy."

As you can see from the data in the above chart, the three most tested and optimized email campaign elements all involve copy.

It isn't until we get to the fifth-most tested element — layout and images — that we get to the art. One reason for this is testing layout and images is harder than subject lines, the most-tested element, for example.

This explains why 86% of marketers test subject lines, but only 47% test layout and images.

That difficulty was expressed in a Benchmark Report survey response that said, "We are a marketing agency, and our clients have shown some disinterest in testing different images on the same email campaign because of the lack of time. They are creating campaigns at such a pace that testing attributes, such as images, becomes quite difficult because they need to send the campaign ASAP when they have the designs ready."

Or is it?

The irony is, once marketers test layout and images, they learn that the best layout and images might be none at all.

That is, just strip down the email and let the copy shine, as this company president explained in this Benchmark Report survey response:

"In the last few years, we've found it more effective to move from heavy HTML emails with tables, images, etc., to simple HTML emails that resemble plain text emails. And our response and engagement has gone way up while our unsubscribe and spam reports have gone down. It seems people have come to correlate heavy HTML emails with spam in their email inbox much like the yellow or pink envelope was correlated with junk mail in physical mailboxes 15 or 20 years ago."

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014

B2C Email Marketing: Mobile accessories company boosts revenue-per-email 152% via customer appreciation promotion

Email Testing: How the Obama campaign generated approximately $500 million in donations from email marketing

Email Testing Pitfalls: 7 Common Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Test Strategy

Email Research: The 5 best email variables to test

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