Why test your emails? Test results to inspire you...

Many email marketers (or their bosses) aren't sure if testing has any value. Before guesting on a testing webcast hosted by BtoB Magazine and Campaigner, I collated some case studies, anecdotes and quotes that show how tests can clearly boost responses.

These should inspire you to start tweaking your own emails to achieve similar improvements (but read the notes at the end, too).

Subject line and from line tests

# An online services company tested adding their brand name to the subject line of an email campaign sent to trial users: CTR doubled.
Source: Sign-Up.to

# A B2B telecoms equipment provider used the the name of the recipient's account manager as the from name and within the body of the email. Open rates jumped 70% when compared to using a generic/company name.
Source: Emailcenter

# A marketing agency tested a longer subject line and saw unique clicks rise 20%.
Source: Alchemy Worx

# A digital magazine service also tested using longer subject lines. Opens jumped 500%.
Source: ClickZ

# Expedia CruiseShipCenters added first-name personalization to subject lines and lifted open rates 10%.
Source: MarketingSherpa

> Click here for more on writing subject lines.

Sign-up form tests

# An investment newsletter publisher tested "Send My Free Report" versus "Start My Free Subscription" on the sign-up button. The latter wording hurt conversions by 22.9%.
Source: Which Test Won

# An exercise site put a badge revealing the number of existing subscribers on their sign-up page and lifted conversions by 32.4%.
Source: AWeber

# Sign-up conversion for a B2B content newsletter increased by 20-300% from adding / losing privacy statement, increasing the submit button size, adding background color to the sign-up form, using larger fonts and adding benefits-oriented copy.
Source: own data

# Dell tested a coupon incentive for signing-up during the holiday shopping season. They offered 20% off select products for new opt-ins. Result: 14x lift in average opt-in rate during the holiday season.
Source: MarketingSherpa

> Click here for more on growing your list.

Call-to-action tests

# A large technology vendor increased clicks by 67% by changing the link in an email from text to a button.
Source: MediaPost

# A telecom tested different combinations of button colors and button text for their email CTA. The worst combination got a whopping 0% CTR, the best over 67%.
Source: 8Seconds

# The addition of a small, relevant image near the call-to-action lifted total clicks by over 50% for one B2B publisher.
Source: Alchemy Worx

# Adding an extra link within the teaser text improved clickthroughs to an article by an average 25.8% for one B2B content publisher.
Source: own data

# B2B content publisher analyzed "read more" link text and found average CTR jumped over 50% when more active verbs were used, like "find" or "discover", rather than "read".
Source: own data

> Click here for more on email copywriting.

Email design tests

# Groupon added a second unsubscribe link to their email and placed it right at the top. Result: spam complaints dropped 30%.
Source: The Retail Email Blog

# Removing the header bar with its links to website sections lowered CTR but improved conversion by 200% for one B2C promotion.
Source: Email Marketing Best Practice Guide by Econsultancy

# A design agency found that a light email template background pulled 150% more clicks than the dark background equivalent.
Source: Style Campaign

> Click here for more on email design.


Note 1: Every audience and email marketing model is unique. That's why we test in the first place, because we can never be quite sure how OUR audience responds to one or another email change.

As a result, different lists can produce opposite responses. A personalized subject line might lift opens 50% for one sender and drop them 30% for another. It might lift them 15% for one kind of email and drop them 20% for another.

Note 2: Don't test once and take the result as fixed in stone. Repeat tests at intervals to ensure that the initial result you got continues to hold true and wasn't just a one-off.

Note 3: Where you can, gauge the success of a test in terms of real success. One subject line alternative might have the lowest open and click rates, but produce the highest volume of sales.

> Click here to read more articles from around the web on testing.

Need more email marketing guidance? Try the email newsletter.

First published: Mar 2010