Best practices for email campaign testing

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William Shakespeare had a quote for every occasion. This applies to comedies, tragedies, and of course, testing of email marketing campaigns.

Just ask the 37 percent of email marketers who don't test. They will agree that parting from a solid email testing strategy is such sweet sorrow. OK -- maybe it's not so sweet.

In our last eROI study, "Use of Analytics in Email Marketing Campaigns," we demonstrated how important metrics are in making decisions and proving email campaign ROI. One major opportunity to improve metrics and strengthen brand positioning with potential customers is to optimize email campaigns through consistent, careful testing.

In this latest study, we reveal how 623 email marketers are currently using, or not using, testing to improve their email marketing efforts. On the heels of our last study, where we learned nearly one in five are not recording the metrics of their campaigns, it's not too surprising that this study showed more than one-third of marketers are not testing campaigns -- but why aren't they? And for those that are testing, what elements are being tested and what can we learn from them? With 73 percent of marketers planning to increase email as a priority in their future marketing plans, these are the important answers we set out to discover.

To test, or not to test?
A 2006 MarketingSherpa article by Anne Holland proved, through survey results, that testing increases ROI. The responses show that "in every case more than 50 percent of marketers improved ROI (even if only moderately) by testing."

The results of eROI's email testing survey show that 37 percent of email marketers do not test their email campaigns. With what we know from the MarketingSherpa survey, this is essentially saying 37 percent of email marketers don't care to improve the impact and, ultimately, revenue, of their email campaigns. We know that not a single good marketer would purposefully think like this, so we uncovered some of the main reasons for not testing.

Download the full report for the breakdown on reasons for not testing.

Which test through yonder email campaign breaks?
For those that are testing, they are testing a wide variety of elements including design, frequency, calls to action, and day/time sent. Our survey shows this breakdown for email content testing: 85.2 percent test subject lines, 54.8 percent test calls to action, 50.9 percent test designs, 49.1 percent test copy, 41.7 percent test offers, and 36.8 percent test timing of campaigns.

In the MarketingSherpa survey, Anne Holland uncovered which tests generated the highest ROI. Eighty-five percent of marketers she surveyed said subject line tests had medium to high ROI. Ninety percent said testing offers had medium to high ROI, and 95 percent said testing email design had medium to high ROI.

Since subject lines are generally the easiest element to test, it's no surprise that 85 percent of marketers eROI surveyed are doing so. However, with only 42 percent testing offers and 51 percent testing design, huge opportunities are being missed to give campaigns higher ROI. As shown, testing offers and design will achieve a greater ROI than testing subject lines.

Check out the full report for statistics on the best time of day, frequency, and day of week to send campaigns.

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Chris Sullivan
Chris Sullivan September 3, 2009 at 1:00 PM

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