Testing is composed of a few steps, but it is imperative to start at the top with the subject line. A good subject line is what causes recipients to open a message; just as a poor subject line containing spam triggers gets that same message sent straight to the delete box. As a rule of thumb, for a list of 2 million or more, test at least 3% to 5% of a list if doing a sample. Keep in mind a smaller list will require a larger test sample. Next, test the preview pane. If the most important piece of the campaign’s information is contained in an image that is suppressed by an e-mail provider, you have lost an entire segment of your audience. Finally, test HTML vs. other content formats, such as text. This allows you to determine which format drives the greatest response with your audience.
Once you have hit the send button, the job is not over. To ensure that e-mail campaigns become increasingly targeted and continue to drive results, it is important to track open rates, click-through rates and response rates. Specifically, marketers should use e-mail solutions that allow them to analyze the number of subscribers on a list, how they were acquired and how they have responded over time. Tracking helps marketers pinpoint the key variables that drive consumers to purchase a specific service or product.
When used properly, e-mail can balance low costs and high response rates better than other marketing channels. But the challenge is to maximize its effectiveness through improved testing and tracking.
Tricia Robinson is chief marketing officer for Atlanta-based Accucast Inc. (www.accucast.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.