Email marketers are under tremendous pressure right now to perform, while at the same time facing tightening budgets and shrinking resource pools. That means it’s never been more important to get the most possible value out of every campaign, and take steps to make production more efficient.
This includes a core component of every good email marketing program: testing.
Testing is important for effective email marketing because you can see whether you’re investing your time and budget wisely. But traditionally marketers have had to wait hours – sometimes days or even weeks – before you find out which variable of your test generates the results you want. That means you can’t apply your findings until the campaign is over, often well after those insights would have been most helpful (in that campaign!).
You can solve both problems when you join A/B testing with dynamic content in an astonishingly simple, yet powerful, combination. Here’s how it works:
You set up a typical A/B test comparing two versions of creative: hero headlines, CTA buttons, product features…whatever you want to compare performance. But here’s the important part—when adding the creative to your email code, you make sure to do it as dynamic content (content that can be changed and adjusted at any time).
Then deploy the campaign as normal, and wait for the opens to start. Once a statistically significant winner is determined, the testing platform automatically swap in the winning content for all recipients—even those that already received, or even opened, the message. BAM! The higher-performing, better-converting creative is now sitting in the inbox of your entire list.
The result? Faster results and better campaign performance.
If you can set up your testing through a dynamic content platform to monitor performance and automatically update your campaign with the winning content, that’s one less task on your list.
Two more bonuses:
Try it out on three tactics that can help you capitalize on the changes in consumer behavior and other special challenges that will make this holiday season one for the books.
Hypothesis: Adding dynamic personalized product recommendations to a pickup reminder will generate incremental sales without increasing spam complaints or unsubscribes.
Rationale: BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BOPUC (Buy Online, Pick Up Curbside) helps customers buy local and get their goods faster than waiting for home delivery. The emails you send when their orders are ready to claim give you a chance to upsell or cross-sell customers, just as you can with regular order confirmations.
Test: Your control is your regular pickup notification. The variable is the same email with personalized product recommendations pulled from inventory. Test to see whether customers respond to this additional content.
KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, unsubscribes, spam complaints
Hypothesis: A coupon using a scratch-off animation will attract more clicks and conversions than a static coupon
Rationale: Animated GIF support is nearly universal now in email browsers. Plus, a moving object is more likely to arouse curiosity and clicks.
Test: The control is the static coupon. The variable is the animated coupon. Divide your database into two segments at random, and test to see which one draws better responses.
KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, purchases, revenue.
Hypothesis: Adding personalized content in more locations (greeting, images, offers, location-based elements) will increase customer engagement and conversions.
Rationale: Most marketers can personalize the subject line or use segmentation to target content manually. Adding personalization throughout the email instead of segregating it to one location tells your customers you know them as individuals, not just numbers.
Note: With this multivariate structure, you’re comparing one entire email to another instead of individual sections like the subject line, image, call to action or offer.
Test: Your control is your standard email with one personalization element, or none. Your variable is an email in which you add multiple personalization points, such as a combination of the following according to the data you have for each customer:
KPI: Unique/total opens, unique/total clicks, conversions.
Testing is just one way you can streamline your email process, leaving you more time to think, plan and analyze. Check out our new guide, 8 Secret Workflow Hacks Email Marketers Use to Get the Job Done (With Results!) and get tips like these:
Email consistently provides among the best returns of all marketing channels. But even if your email program is delivering ROI, how can you tell if it’s contributing as much as it could or should to your bottom line?
One of the best ways to check the pulse of a marketing strategy, team or channel is to compare it to the performance of others. If you can match or beat the average, odds are good you’re heading in the right direction. If you’re lagging behind par…well, you might need to hit a hole in one to catch up.
So where does your brand stand compared to overall email marketing performance? What about when compared to companies similar to yours: businesses of similar size and structure, other brands in your industry, and your closest competitors?
These are important questions, but they’re difficult to answer without a reliable baseline to gauge yourself against. Fortunately that measuring stick is now available to marketers in the form of this comprehensive email marketing benchmarks guide recently published by Campaign Monitor.
When it comes to publicly-available data, this email marketing benchmarks report is the gold standard. Campaign Monitor has visibility into the performance of millions of email campaigns across industries, and has made its findings available to marketers with no strings attached.
You probably won’t anything more up-to-date and broadly reaching than what Campaign Monitor has assembled. Best of all, the data is freely available and accompanied by a helpful explanation of what it all means!
Take a moment and go check your marketing team’s email open rate.
Got it? Now compare that to the email open rate benchmark for all industries: 17.92%.
How does your marketing program compare?
The complete benchmarks report lists email open rate benchmarks down to the individual industry. Interestingly, the verticals winning the open rate battle include:
Make sure to see where your emails stand against the competitors in your own industry!
Campaign Monitor reports that Sunday is the lowest performing day for overall open rate metrics. Find the best day for open rates in your industry in the complete email marketing benchmarks guide!
There are lots of levers you can pull to lift your open rate to meet or exceed the benchmark.
The most obvious is subject line optimization. Make your subject lines personalized, relevant, intriguing and exciting to attract interest and earn more opens. Just approach with caution; if the contents of your email don’t meet the expectations your subject lines set, you’ll receive high spam and unsubscribe rates in return.
The other way to improve open rates is to make each of your emails so phenomenally irresistible that once a subscriber opens one they’ll feel compelled to open future messages. That can come in the form of high-value exclusive deals, awesome content, or engaging, interactive and highly personalized in-email experiences.
With the right tools you can even design emails that will draw users to open an email over and over again. We show examples of this tactic in our latest ebook, Automating Personalization: 5 Ways to Scale Relevance in Your Email Marketing.
How many of your email openers go on to click on the content and links within your messages? For marketing emails overall, it’s about 14.1%
CTR is not the definitive measure of an email campaign’s success or failure. But it can be a good indicator of overall engagement.
Some industries seem to be better than others at soliciting clicks. Verticals leading the way include:
Monday seems to be the worst day for click-through rate benchmarks, coming in at just 13.48%. Make sure you understand what days are best for your specific industry!
Need a way to increase your engagement rates? We explained some accessible, scalable ways to make emails more relevant and interactive in our latest webinar. Watch it now!
Campaign Monitor found an overall email unsubscribe rate benchmark of .17%.
A certain amount of email list churn is normal and even beneficial for email marketers. There’s no point in sending emails to people who genuinely are not interested in your messages or did not intend to subscribe to your lists.
But if your unsubscribe rate is much higher than average, it’s a good indicator that something’s not right: you’re sending too many emails, your content isn’t bringing value to your audience, your email formats aren’t providing a good experience, and so on.
Emails sent on Sunday or Monday tend to have lower unsubscribe rates, according to the report. Can you guess what day has the highest?
Improving unsub rates begins with building a healthy, fully-opted in list from the start. If everyone you’re mailing know exactly what they’re getting into when signing up, they’ll be less likely to ditch your brand later.
And of course, amazing emails that consistently bring value and relevance to openers are much less likely to prompt an unsubscribe. For more helpful tips on managing unsubscribe rates, check out this great guide.