(Updated April 2017)
What Types of Email Testing and Optimization Should You Be Doing?
As we kick off the New Year, this is the perfect time to evaluate your current email campaigns for ways to improve your performance results. We’re often asked how we drive substantially better results from an email campaign. Here, we walk you through the steps you can use to get more return on investment (ROI) from your email program. Whether your goals are better opens, clicks, email sign-ups, or sales, this article shares our proven approach for getting even better results from your campaigns.
FulcrumTech’s Email Testing and Optimization Process
Over our many years of optimizing email campaigns, we’ve developed a set of 10 major factors that affect email performance. It’s important that you first understand how each of these factors is helping or hurting your program. You can review the 10 factors and vital parts of an email here.
In this article, we focus on our ninth factor, testing and optimization, and how to use optimization to drive double- or triple-digit-percentage improvements over your current performance.
So, where do you begin in the testing and optimization process for your email-marketing program? Here’s some insight into our strategy and the types of testing and optimization we do that you can apply to your campaigns:
Step 1: Define Your Goal
The first step for developing an email campaign optimization strategy is to figure out where to start, such as which email campaigns and elements to test. And defining your goal will help determine where you need to focus. For example, are you looking to increase ROI, drive revenue, increase website traffic, educate subscribers, or build awareness of a new product? Once you’ve defined a single goal, you can identify the email “levers” you need to pull in order to achieve that goal.
Step 2: Determine Where You Can Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck
The next step is to determine where you can make the biggest and most immediate impact on your performance results, using the fewest resources—the proverbial low-hanging fruit.
Typically, we’ll start with subject-line testing, for example, to help drive up open rates. And because the sales funnel typically begins with those people who open your emails, this step focuses on getting more prospects into your email sales funnel. In addition to increasing the number of people who actually open your emails, the right subject line can also help attract more-qualified leads—prospects who are truly interested in your product/service and will be more likely to click and convert. Email preheaders and the sender’s name are other elements that can also affect open rates.
The sender name is another factor to consider when looking for immediate impact on your performance results. Similar to subject lines, the sender name helps determine if users will open an email. It’s important that you use the sender name consistently within your campaign, whether you use your company’s name or an actual person’s name. When you optimize the sender name, your clients and customers will be more likely to open your emails.
Some great resources from which to learn more about some of these optimizations can be found at the following links:
- Subject-line optimization
This article focuses on the impact subject line testing can have on email campaign performance. When testing subject lines, it’s important that you test subject line length, personalization, and wording. Know what keywords are trending within your industry. In addition, test punctuation, symbols, and uppercase letters to see which elements help increase open and click-through rates.
- Preheader optimization
This article focuses on the optimization of the snippet text that appears after the subject lines on mobile devices, such as on iPhones and iPads. Tips include: summarize the email message, feature a call to action, add a deadline to create a sense of urgency, provide specific information that expands the subject line information, add personalization, and more.
Step 3: Get More Clicks
Once more prospects are getting into the sales funnel as a result of higher open rates, we move on to optimizing email click rates by focusing on such elements as the copy and button design for calls to action, headlines, and content. We’ve found, for example, that by simply making headlines and other content clickable (in addition to the call to action), you can increase click rates by 15% to 30%.
The following is a list of some of the most important email components to test, along with some links to articles that provide additional tips and advice on testing and optimization:
- Call to action
- Headlines and copy
- Design elements such as fonts and images
- Send frequency
- Day/time of send
Step 4: Shift Your Testing and Optimization Focus to Where the Conversion Occurs
Once you’ve optimized your email campaign’s open and click-through rates, the next step is to be sure your conversion rates are also improving. For this, you’ll need to take a look at the associated landing pages and shopping carts for additional testing and optimization opportunities.
Email Optimization Examples
What about your drip email campaigns? A good best practice for optimizing your drip email campaigns is to create emails that are mobile friendly. Make sure that your email messages are condensed enough to fit on mobile screens and your information doesn’t take too long to load.
In addition, be sure to test your email elements and content, such as subject lines, calls to action, offers, headlines, images, and graphics.
The key to creating effective drip email campaigns is using automation tools that best optimize your brand and content, such as social media connectors and tools for segmentation and customer relationship management (CRM) integration. Automation can also help make your campaigns easier to manage. Click here for successful drip email campaign examples.
Do you want to see an example of this optimization process in action? Click here to have a look at a recent FulcrumTech case study. For this campaign, we optimized opens, click-through rates, and cadence (timing between emails) of a welcome series. Ultimately, we drove a 64% increase in ROI. (Shameless plug: We even won an award from The Relevancy Group for what we achieved with this one: Best Welcome Campaign in Consumer Products.)
Are you getting optimal performance results from your email-marketing efforts? If you think there’s room for improvement, and you don’t have the resources to focus on all of this, let us know. Email optimization is one of FulcrumTech’s leading service offerings, and we love to drive fantastic improvements in results. Contact us, and we’ll discuss how we can help you get the most out of all your email campaigns.
Other Articles You Might Like
- How to Create Email Subject Lines That Motivate Action
- The Key to Subject Line Success: Testing, Not Guessing
- Email-Marketing Optimization — 7 Steps to Effective A/B Split Testing
- How to Optimize Your Welcome Emails for a Big Boost in Revenue
- 8 Best Practices to Design Powerful Calls to Action that Convert