Test, Review, Optimize and Repeat (and Repeat, and Repeat)

Ashlea Owings Blog, Content and Creative, Data and Analytics

The process is pretty standard. You create your email. You test it — for quality, function, usability, engagement and so on. You see what works and, more often, what doesn’t. Make your changes. Then, start the process again. Endlessly.

You may be thinking, “oh, no, that’s simply not true. We only have to test our emails a couple of times before launching them.” And to that, I have to ask, “why?”

The review process doesn’t stop when you send your email. Once it’s been distributed to your list, there is a ridiculously great collection of data made available to you that is specific to your exact audience. So why not take advantage of that? By reviewing your sent message reports, you can see what links were most engaging, whether your users prefer to click images, buttons or text links, when your users are most likely to open your messages and much, much more.

That data should be used to drive decisions in future messages. You may notice that your users click red buttons 30% more often than blue ones. Messages sent on Tuesdays may perform better than those sent on Fridays. Whatever the trends may be, use these uniquely focused insights to cater your emails to the audience that’s receiving them. The added attention to detail can boost your delivery, open rates and click-throughs with little to no cost or added time investment.

To gain even greater insights, consider running an A/B test when you distribute your mailing. Create two messages that allow you to test the effectiveness of minor differences in the email — for example, using the call to action “Learn More” versus “Get Started.” Most email service providers (ESPs) will offer a simple way of setting up an A/B test. However, if yours doesn’t, the most simple solution is to segment your mailing list in equal parts. Send version A to one segment and version B to the other. After collecting data, you can compare the delivery, open and click results of both messages to determine which variation performed the best. With clear data supporting it, use the most effective pattern or phrase in your future email messages.

Ultimately, keep in mind that there is no limit to what you can test or optimize in your mailings. While it may take some time to see consistent patterns in how your subscribers engage, you can always learn something from the data of your previously sent email marketing messages. And what you do learn could have a huge impact on your future engagement and ROI.

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Ashlea Owings

Ashlea Owings