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Published on June 29th, 2009 | by Janine Popick

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5 Easy Things to Test to Get a Better Response in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Mad ScientistTesting something new or changing something seemingly small in your email campaigns can definitely tell you something about how your recipients will respond. You’ll either get more open & clicks or you won’t. But you won’t know until you try.

Testing something new can SEEM like a lot of work but it’s really not. If you’re going to create an email marketing campaign anyway, it’s just three more tiny steps.

One: Make a copy of the campaign you’re creating
Two: Change a little part of the campaign (see below)
Three: Test with a small portion of your list or split your list in two

These three simple steps could get you a better response to your next email campaign and it takes just minutes for you to do. Unleash the mad scientist in you with these 5 easy things to test within your next email marketing campaign.

1. Subject Line – If no one opens your email, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is on the inside, so why not test two different subject lines? Here’s an idea; look at your past campaigns and see what your recipients are clicking on, then include that offer or article in your new subject line. After you send it out compare your open and click rates to see if you got a better response than normal.

2. Offer – Test a % discount vs. a pricing discount like 20% off vs. a $10 savings. Run a test with free shipping vs. no free shipping or with an expiration date vs. no expiration date. Then roll out to the rest of your list the winning offer.

3. Format – Instead of including a sidebar in your emails, try removing it so that perhaps more of your content is “above the fold” or the part of an email or web page that is visible without scrolling. Make sure you’ve got some links above the fold so you can tell if it’s working. If you get more clicks you may want to consider changing your format for good.

4. Links – If your email has 5 links to your offer, try including 5 more and see if your response increases. Read Are Your Clicks Happening Below The Fold?

5. Images – Try removing images and see if a text version of your email works better. How 90’s of you!

You can either split your list in half and do the test or you can break off a small piece of your list and do the test a day in advance of your real email campaign date. Then roll out to your bigger list with the winner. Here is how you can do it using VerticalResponse.

One last thing, if you are going to test any of these make sure you test them one at a time so you know which change actually made the difference.

© 2009 – 2013, Janine Popick. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

is a contributing author for VerticalResponse.



5 Responses to 5 Easy Things to Test to Get a Better Response in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

  1. alex says:

    What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!

  2. Caroline says:

    Good point about the % vs $/£ discounts – I want to use “% discount” in my subject lines, but this breaks the email’s hyperlinks (due to Google Analytics encoding). I asked ages ago if this would be fixed, but nothing has happened despite several emails I sent asking about this. I don’t suppose there is any update on this?

  3. Laura says:

    how about testing the same email but at different times. do people respond better during the busy work week or on the weekends when (in theory) they may have more time to consider the offer?

  4. Beks says:

    A 3rd pricing control should also be considered when testing an offer ie Price for [product] from $[xx].
    When carrying out similar tests for a company I worked for often the transparency of what they’re getting converted higher, perhaps because they already had a price-point in mind of what they perceived as a ‘good deal’, and it wasn’t confused by additional discount messaging.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the tips in testing emails!
    In studying consumer behavior, it’s really interesting to see how differently people respond to slight changes. You mentioned a big one which is % versus $ discounts. It could equal the exact same amount but one is typically bound to trigger a greater response than the other.

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