Wouldn’t it be awesome to always send emails to your list that leave your market dying for more of your content? Unfortunately, most emails never even get opened due to the fact that our inboxes are forever being filled with spam and useless information. While we admit that it is a noisy medium to use, there must be ways to make sure your emails are read and you aren’t wasting your, or your market’s time, right?
Well we’ve got good news – there are ways, and we’ve tested them!
We at Global Marketing Tactics love using emails as one of our core marketing strategies because it’s a great way to keep in touch with both our current and prospective clients. Plus we’ve gotten some great feedback from happy customers about the usefulness of the information we send them. Based on our success, we wanted to share what we have learned when it comes to the latest metrics and measurements around running a successful email campaign.
Here we’ve compiled a rundown of the ultimate email marketing campaign strategies that guarantee to fuel high conversions and happy customers.
Test, Test, Test!
Literally every email you send is the opportunity to get valuable feedback on how to improve your email marketing campaign.
If you’re simply sending out emails and crossing your fingers hoping they’ll get opened and have sky-high conversion rates, you’re leaving a lot up to chance. Ask yourself this: how do you expect to improve your conversion rates if you have no information about why your list is opening (or not opening) your emails in the first place?
We’ve got good news. You can start getting feedback from your existing list on their email opening and reading behavior with just a few minor tweaks to how you’re already sending out emails.
Let’s walk through a real-life example of how A/B testing of your emails can help to improve your click-through rates, and ultimately your bottom line.
One of our current clients, Gbox, is an online video hosting company who is disrupting the norm by empowering video content creators to make money from their content. We have seen some enormous success with running their email campaigns, and here we’ll share the case study with you.
Gbox wanted to run an email campaign to inform their email list of the many benefits of using Gbox and prompt them to sign-up to use the platform. These emails would be supplemented with free PDF guides, blog posts and informative videos. We used Aweber as the platform for hosting this email campaign.
But before we sent out the first email and left the conversion rates up to luck, we decided to first brainstorm what the desired outcome of the email campaign was, and what we could do to A/B test our messages in order to improve the campaign over time.
There are a number of things you can test in your email campaigns in order to find out what the magic formula for conversion is. Here are a few examples:
- Different subject lines.
- The use of video.
- The use of photos of yourself, your product/service or your branding.
- Including social proof/testimonials.
- The size, color, text or placement of your “call to action”
- Including the price of your product/service, or not, in the email body.
- The length of text in your emails.
- The inclusion of a “PS” at the end of your message with an additional call to action.
- The time of day you send your emails.
- Personalizing your emails by addressing them to the first name of the reader, or by beginning them generically.
The thing to keep in mind when choosing what to test is to determine what your desired outcome is. Are you looking for higher open rates of your emails? Or, are you looking for higher click-through rates to your website?
If you’re looking to see higher open rates on your emails so that your list can get more information about you and build rapport, we recommend starting by testing different subject lines. If you’re looking for higher click-through rates to your website or landing pages, we recommend testing the use of images, videos and call to action buttons in your emails. These are just some of the many variations and examples of testing opportunities that exist.
For Gbox, we wanted to double our click-through rate from 3% (which was the current average) to 6%. Determining this as our goal, the first A/B test we ran tested the use of video in our emails.
Best Practice: Although it may be tempting to test multiple things at once (ex: 2 different subject lines plus the use of images in your message), it is much more complicated to accurately assess the results. We recommend testing only one variable at a time, and using the results to improve on your next message where you can then test something else.
Testing with Different Segments
When you run an A/B test of your emails, you typically send one version of the message to one half of your email list, and a second version of the message to the other. Once you send out these messages and start seeing some of the stats, you can compare the results of the two emails to improve on the next one.
In Gbox’s case, they have just over 1500 subscribers on their email list, so we sent out version A of the email (WITH a video) to 750 randomly selected subscribers, and version B of the email (withOUT a video) to the other 750.
It’s important to remember that when you’re running these A/B tests, you send both versions at the same time (unless you’re testing the time you send your emails of course!).
When is it not best practice to test all of your list at once?
If you already have a large email list, you can run smaller A/B tests with a quarter or a third of your entire list to first gauge the success of an email before sending the “winner” to the rest of the list.
Another way to segment your email campaign is by keeping your existing and your prospective customers on separate lists and targeting them using highly specific wording and marketing tactics.
For example, Gbox sends their existing content creators who already use their service, more text based emails that contain tips on how to enhance their videos and make the most of the Gbox platform. To the list of potential content creators, who haven’t already used the service, we include short videos showing Gbox in action and give away free digital gifts to build trust and rapport. Within these two groups we runs different A/B testing and tweak each list’s email formula based on their individual results.
Best Practice: There are all sorts of ways to segment your email list to test out different emails (but do keep in mind that it’s best to put these ideas into practice after you’ve already run a few A/B tests with your whole list and have determined what your highest converting emails look like). Try separating your email list by gender or age; by people who have bought your product/service before and those who haven’t; people who have opened or clicked-through one of your emails in the past and those who haven’t, etc.
Tools for Testing
So how do you run a successful A/B test? If your specific email campaign software doesn’t have built-in A/B testing systems, don’t fret! You can manually set up an A/B test in just a few clicks.
First, split your email list into 2 randomly selected groups. Then, send one version of your email to the first group, and the second version to the second group. It’s really that easy! The only extra step is having to compare the results yourself instead of having the results laid out for you. We recommend exporting your data to an excel spreadsheet to create a visual chart for easy comparison.
Don’t have time to fuss with this extra step? Aweber, Mail Chimp, Campaign Monitor, HubSpot Email, Customer.io and Active Campaign are all email hosting services that have built-in A/B testing systems.
Best Practice: Remember, anything and everything about your emails can and should be tested. There are tons of tools out there (free and paid) designed specifically for you to test your email campaigns. Here is a list of testing resources for you to compare and choose one that’s right for your business.
Analyze the Results of the Campaign
So now that you have the results from your first A/B test, how do you determine the winner? First, think back to what your goal for this campaign was. How did you initially define what “success” meant for you in this campaign?
Now that you’ve seen what your audience responds to and have some numbers to work with, use these to create a larger email campaign.
Our original goal with Gbox was to increase our click-through rate from 5-8%. We had seen with our previously sent emails that the click-through rate was hovering at the 5% mark, and we really wanted to see a significant increase of the list clicking through to a Gbox opt-in landing page.
With the first test we ran comparing the use of videos in our emails, the email we sent out with a video in it got a click-through rate of almost 10%! The email without a video stayed at an average 6% so we had a clear winner.
But we didn’t stop there. The next email we tested compared the use of a call to action button and a video, versus just a video. From there we then tested headlines, adding more images, adding more than one call to action, etc. Can you see how vast and endless the possibilities are?
Best Practice: Testing takes time and patience. After one A/B test you might see that using a video in your email is better than not using a video, but then the next time you send out a video based message, your clickthrough rates are back to normal. This means that it could have just been the newness of your audience seeing a video in one of your emails for the first time that prompted them to click through. Keep testing different aspects of your emails to keep growing your email marketing campaign. Remember, every email you send is the opportunity to get some valuable feedback on what is going to make your audience convert.
What is A Successful Email Campaign?
Ultimately you want to increase your profitability and keep your consumers coming back for more. A successful email campaign has a high clickthrough rate, but more importantly than that, your email list is actually converting to paying customers.
Some things you don’t want to see resulting from your email campaign is a high unsubscribe rate (which means your list considers your messages as spam or irrelevant) or a high bounce rate (meaning your email list is out of date).
Once you find the formula for the email format you send out that has the highest clickthrough rate, continue tweaking to focus on your conversions. This starts with having a valuable product or service that enhances the lives of your consumers, but can also include things such as running contests and giveaways, sending out surveys, and co-creating with your market to highlight your online community.
Best Practice: Use A/B email testing to develop your email deliverability, your reputation and your overall rapport with your email list. Keeping track of your email campaign performance helps determine which direction to move in to increase your conversion rates and ultimately your bottom line. Using a service such as Webtrends, Abtasty, Click Throo, or Optimizely to test your email campaigns helps to take the guesswork out of the analytics and data you collect.
Now you have all the tools and resources you need to create a successful email campaign. Once you start getting some statistics and feedback from the A/B testing you run, throw out the stuff that isn’t working, and keep tweaking the stuff that is. It’s the constant pushing of your creativity and awesomeness that keeps the momentum going on creating a profitable business.
Remember, in your sales funnel, email messaging plays a HUGE role in converting potential customers into paying customers.
What A/B tests are you going to run with your next email marketing campaign? Let us know in the comments below!