Analytics, testing help Crestline boost email results

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When Mark Murphy joined the marketing team at Crestline, a company that provides imprinted promotional products to businesses, he immediately jumped into a complete overhaul of the company's email marketing program. Murphy, who is Crestline's e-commerce marketing manager, said the move was part of a “complete revamping” of the company's interactive strategy, which also includes a new e-commerce platform. One of the biggest changes, Murphy said, had to do with the use of analytics. The company in the past wasn't taking advantage of data from previous campaigns, so he and his team started looking at “years' worth of data,” he said. In addition, the company started paying closer attention to what its competitors are doing. “We're keeping an eye on the products that are offered [via email], and the timing of the emails as they relate to what we're putting forth,” Murphy said. “We're looking at, "Are they putting out an offer six weeks before a key date and we're putting it out five weeks before.' We're taking that data and our own data and using it to do an enormous amount of testing and analysis.” Subject line testing has yielded some changes that are the easiest to make, he said, although the company is also testing various list segmentations, as well, sending specific subject lines to individual segments. “Crestline has increasingly used A/B testing to optimize subject lines over the previous six months,” Murphy said. One recent test of multiple variants helped the company identify an email whose open rate was 15% higher than other versions. “This approach was confirmed through further testing, and then introduced to Crestline's entire mailing list with similar and very positive results,” he said. Another winning strategy, Murphy said, is the company's revamped email sign-up process. When Murphy came on board, the company had around 60,000 addresses on its list. Hoping to boost that number, Crestline tossed its old form, which required visitors to enter “a lot” of information before they could be added to the email list. Today, visitors can sign up for emails via a prominent widget that appears throughout the site. The widget requires only an email address and first and last name. “Previously, signup was a series of complex steps,” Murphy said. “Now, it's much, much easier, and our reach is greater because the signup has increased exposure throughout the site.” The list has grown more than 10% in less than six months, he said. Murphy said the team will also ontinue testing and tweaking content. “The scorched-earth approach for everything—email, content, templates, everything—really worked,” he said. “We have changed the branding strategy completely, changed our templates; [we've] moved to more image-centric designs, copy is lighter and we're seeing really good results.”
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