Email marketing can definitely benefit from the SmallBox belief in mixing magic and science for amazing marketing efforts. The magic part can be delivered through catchy images and clever messaging – these are often the first things people think of when they craft a marketing email. If you aren't thinking science too - ways to test and optimize your emails, you're missing out on opportunities to get better results.
The good news is, it doesn't need to be overwhelming to get started. While there are countless opportunities to test, tweak and get more science-y (see our case study on how we did it for one client), you can start with one simple change. Turn your attention to what is arguably the most important line of your entire email - the subject line.
Testing Email Subject Lines
You can do your own basic subject line test in a couple of easy steps. Write two subjects lines that you can compare against one another. Divide your list into half and assign one to receive Subject Line A and one to receive Subject Line B. Then, just send two separate emails with the differing subject lines and see which garners a higher open rate. The hard part is writing them - you have very little real estate to convince your busy audience that your email is worth reading.
Here are some examples of email test strategies we have used at SmallBox to gain insight for our clients:
- We had one client offering a discounted product, plus a free gift with purchase. We tested one subject line with the free messaging and another with the discounted product. Even though the discount was more valuable than the free product, the free subject line earned a much higher open rate. (Hint: Free is a powerful word!)
- Another client wanted to promote several items under one broad category of their sales mix. We tested broad language vs. being more specific by mentioning the specific products. The specific product language earned lower open rates against the broader language, possibly because the choices seemed overwhelming, or less relevant than the general category.
Other subject line test ideas:
- Drum up interest with a little enigma. Test a cliffhangers like "And the winner is..." against "The Winner is XYZ."
- Test adding numbers in your subject line. In one option, "Killer Summer Events" vs. "4 Killer Summer Events"
One More Tip - Check Your Subject Line Length!
I highly recommend using the Litmus Email Subject Line Checker, a free service to preview your email subject line in various email clients. What happens if the last few words of your subject line are the most important... and they get cut off? Let's pretend you want to announce a sale on a few key items. You plan to use this as your subject line: "All Widgets, Thing-a-ma-bobs & Kazoos on Sale Now." A quick review through the subject line checker shows that your audience won't see the sale message at a glance.
The end goal is to engage your audience, right? If people aren't even opening your email in the first place, you can't begin to accomplish your goals. If you only do one thing to try to improve you email efforts in the next month or two, make it subject line tests. It's easy to do, and you get instant feedback on what resonates more with your audience. Over time, you'll identify words and tactics that work for you, and you can enjoy the your rising open rates - the first step toward more conversions from your email marketing.
Have you ever tested email subject lines? Please share any insights you've gained through your own testing in the comments!