With the global economy reeling and banks and major financial institutions dropping like
dominos back in 2009, despite a very prudent demeanor, I had high conviction to
increase the size of a key e-mailing by 50% with the expectation of huge profits. In order to accomplish this, I needed to take my plan to the CEO of my employer at the time. The CEO is a brilliant man who also happens to be a well-known media mogul.
I came in prepared and showed how I expected to see this campaign generate huge profits
thanks to excellent e-mail list selection, strong list negotiations, and other out-of-the-box ideas for maximizing campaign profitability. I was so convinced this campaign would be
extremely profitable, I offered to the CEO to go 50/50 on the cost of the campaign if I could go 50/50 on the campaign profits. At the time, the CEO was very worried about
all the economic headline risk out there and feared we were heading for another
economic depression like 1929. As a result, he was more inclined to cancel rather than increase the size of the campaign. Although in the end I didn’t get to share in the campaign costs and profits, the CEO reluctantly agreed to let me rollout with the campaign I planned in its entirety after I sold him on the concept. Ultimately this campaign scored
a huge $700K profit which was light years ahead of the profits on the same campaign from the prior year.
Testing your Way to Greater Profits
One of the ways this campaign won big was from a test which generated a 50% gain from an already strong control. There are many ways to test on e-mails. Some of the major ways to score big profit gains include:
1. Subject Line– The easiest variable to test in an e-mail campaign is the subject
line. This is similar to a snail mail envelope test and also happens to be what scored the 50% response lift in the above referenced campaign. Personalization, different
keywords, the company’s name, and tone can all be experimented with. Testing the subject lines on your target market will help you discover what they respond best to.
2. Creative and Copy Test- Email marketers should also consider testing the e-mail’s
creative and copy as well. They should consider altering the copy tone to suit the audience, for example more formal to lawyers and more conversational to writers.
3. Personalization Test– In addition to using personalization on the subject line, you can also use one-on-one marketing techniques such as including a recipient’s name
or title in the body of the e-mail with the goal of increasing your e-mail’s
4. Offer Test– An e-mail’s offer should also be tested. Experiment among hard and soft sells, various discount levels, and even by offering free shipping and gifts such as digital
content with a high perceived value.
5. Send Day and Time Test– When is the best time to reach your audience? By testing the e-mailing time of day, you can discover the peak time for responsiveness for your target markets.
6. Landing Page Test- Do an A/B test by creating alternative pages for a specific page
and showing each to a certain % of visitors. Alternatively, a multivariate test can be implemented whereby you experiment with the elements inside one specific web page (e.g., picture, text, or button) and provide different alternatives of each element.
It is crucial to remember to only test one variable at a time and always use a control
e-mail. A little effort can go a long way in e-mail testing. Also, check your e-mail content with a product such as SpamCheck to make sure it should clear spam filters or ask your e-mail service provided to have the content checked.
Which Test Won
Anne Holland, founder of MarketingSherpa (sold company back in 2007), also runs the valuable Which Test Won website and e-mail newsletter. The site was launched in 2009 to help inspire and educate the marketing community about testing. The site now has nearly
150 test case Studies, featuring Web, email and even direct postal mail tests from the US and Europe. It even has links to 39 A/B & Multivariate Testing Tools. And each week they add another. To keep things clear – they don’t create these tests and they’re not a vendor or consultant in the field. I highly recommend you get on their e-mail list and vote on ‘Which Test Won’ weekly. At times, the results can be surprising. The site is invaluable for
understanding ‘best practices’ in design and copywriting to be able to get better results.
Want to share how you overcame adversity in marketing and scored huge profits or an e-mail test that knocked your socks off? Please post on my blog.