Email in the age of engagement

Test and re-test

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Ultimately, data and analytics are beneficial only when companies use them to make improvements. “That's one of the beauties of email is that you can split a list easily and test different subject lines, headlines, different content formats,” said Chris Chariton, senior VP-product management and supplier marketing at GlobalSpec. “You're always going to learn from that. The more you test, the more you're going to optimize the performance of that newsletter.” Chariton stresses the importance of following a testing plan that determines which factors will be tested and when, whether it's subject line, personalization or format changes. “Make sure you have it mapped out; based on what you're learning from each test, you may change the direction of future tests,” she said. “If you're not seeing a significant change, you may want to stop that and focus on something else.” Testing is critical for ensuring that emails render properly on different mobile devices, Kouplen said, and editors are increasingly involved in the process. “They're understanding more that they might have written a great headline for the website, but on this little bitty mobile device it needs to be even more concise to get the audience to respond,” she said. “It forces them to look at the results more closely and more often, and they're seeing the keywords and topics audiences are responding to.” Investing even a little time in testing can pay off, Kouplen said. “If you spend just 10 minutes and give it little tweaks, how much of a lift will you get?” she said. “We've seen considerable lift when our brands do that.” More concise headlines also work better when email or website stories are shared to social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, Kouplen said. That lesson has been valuable because readers are, in fact, sharing stories with their social networks—“a ton” in the last few months, she said. “The numbers are continuing to rise,” she said. “Social is big.” Westerman echoed that thought, stressing the importance of integrating email efforts with social media. He noted, however, that some verticals have been slower than others in their uptake of social. “But it's pretty clear that our future is a tight integration of all of our existing outbound marketing activities with social media,” he said.

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