test lists dice

Optimize your email marketing program by testing its functionality with these strategies.

Test, test, test – it’s a mantra within the email marketing industry. But often marketers find themselves at a loss for what to test. Here are some tips for developing strategic tests that will boost your bottom-line performance.

I was cleaning out my desk and found some swag I got at a trade show years ago:

2016-01-25 dice three panel

Yes, they are dice! This is one way to determine what to test – but it’s not the best way. If your goal is to test to improve bottom line performance, then you need something more.

Here are four ideas to help:

  1. Look at past tests you’ve done
  2. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes
  3. Review third-party case studies
  4. Read a testing listicle

1. Look at past tests you’ve done

Reviewing the results of the tests you’ve performed in the past few months or even the past few years can be a good way to jog your creativity for future test ideas. Be sure to look at and analyze losing tests as well as winning ones.

Sometimes there are learnings from losing tests which can be repurposed in such a way to make them a win.

An example:

While browsing an association client’s archives, I found a losing test that had an unusually high click-through rate for the key call to action.

When I pulled the creative I saw that it included an “exclusivity” phrase prominently below the call to action button – an image follows.

2016-01-25 call to action exclusivity

I stole this and a few other ideas that showed some promise, even though they were from losing campaigns, to come up with a new test creative – and it worked. The test creative drove 36 percent more people to complete applications than the control.

Even better, (Read more...) test drove 30 percent more new accounts than the control – meaning that the test not only motivated more people to apply but it drove more qualified people to apply.

2. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes

Any marketer worth his or her salt is able to get inside the mind of his or her target audience.

Think about:

  • What matters to them
  • What information they need to take the action you want
  • What objections they might have and how they can be overcome

Then come up with ideas for what to include or exclude for your test based on your thoughts.

Don’t forgot to think about the physical as well as the mental state of your client when they read your email. Years ago I had a client whose target audience was real estate agents. Real estate agents basically work out of their cars, as this was before mobile devices accounted for a large number of opens. But we tested mobile-first creative to see if it would boost response. It did.

3. Review third-party case studies

When all else fails, it’s okay to look for some outside inspiration. Case studies will inform you about performance tests that other organizations have run. Don’t limit yourself to only looking at case studies from companies in your industry.

Many times you can ‘steal’ an idea from a company that does something completely different than your organization does. So read case studies for ideas but always think about ways to apply what was done in your own marketing.

Here’s a hack:

Type “case study” into the search box here on ClickZ,  located at the top-right of the page, just under the “promote your business” link in the navigation bar. You’ll get a list of articles which feature case studies.

2016-01-25 case study search
Here’s the list of case studies that was returned to me as I was writing this.

4. Read a testing listicle

Back in 2013, I published a list of 15 things you should be testing.

Good news – it’s still relevant today.

Now this won’t give you the detail that you’ll get from a case study or a past test – you’ll still have to put some thought into it. But it will get you out of the “let’s just test subject line again” rut that plagues so many marketers.

And best of all, this isn’t the only testing listicle out there. Many authors here on ClickZ and other places have written about what you should test for years. So put those search skills to work and find yourself some inspiration for your next strategic test!

Until next time,

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