As of 2018, there are about 124.5 billion business emails sent and received each day, according to a study conducted by Radicati. Of this, 89% of marketers use email as their primary channel for the purpose of lead generation (Mailigen). This leaves your email to fend for itself in a sea of emails that offer similar products or services as you. How do you plan to stand out?
Let’s start with the basics; testing your emails.
Every marketer that deploys an email campaign is looking to achieve better open and click-through rates which will result in more website visitors and sales. Before you hit that send button, check and check again to make sure you don’t commit any critical mistakes that will have a detrimental effect on opens, clicks, conversions and your brand.
No matter if you are creating each of your emails from scratch or through pre-existing templates, it is still essential that every single email needs to be tested before sending.
- Without prior notice, your email clients can drop support
Email clients like Outlook.com, Yahoo! Mail, etc. sometimes drop support for HTML and CSS attributes without prior notice. Adding to this, rendering is inconsistent across webmail, desktop, and mobile inboxes. This all just adds to the headaches for email designers. Despite pre-testing your email template and getting a result of correct rendering, there is still possibility of it getting affected by impromptu updates and changes.
- Incorrect and broken links
If you are sending plain text emails, then this isn’t a problem you will face but a broken, incorrect, or untracked link could send your subscriber to a 404 page and you could end up losing out on a conversion opportunity. In order to safeguard your emails, you would need to test out all of your links to ensure correct landing pages.
- Ineffective preview pane view
In 3-4 seconds, a subscriber decides whether to open your email and to encourage this, it is vital that you optimize your email in the preview pane. Ensure that your from name, subject line, reply-to address, and preview text have no errors and are all optimized.
- Missing or incorrect ALT text and broken images
Images in an email need to load properly and if they aren’t then a proper backup needs to be put in place. Emails need to be tested in order to confirm that all the placeholder images are replaced and the correct imagery has been placed. Many subscribers use email clients that at times block images and so the use of ALT text is highly encouraged. During the QA process, test emails with images disabled so as to ensure that the replacement ALT text is correctly spelled and appropriate for the image it is representing.
- Absent or disconnected plain text version
Emails that are sent using multi-part MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) have an HTML version that needs testing as well as the plain text version. You will need to check URLs and links in the plain text version so as to certify that they are working and ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
- Email deliverability can be affected by any change
As part of your QA process, it is crucial to run a spam test before sending an email. Any changes to your IP address or your content or any authentication methods added can have an impact on your deliverability. To make sure that your email is reaching the intended inbox, get your emails scanned by every major spam filter.
As you can see from above, email pre-testing is very important for the success of your campaign strategy. On a daily basis, marketers tend to perform simpler tests like subject line or sender personalization but for the larger, more comprehensive email tests, it takes more than one email to define what will work best for a given company.
Email Marketing Tests
Subject lines or button color, although important, won’t provide the data that will help in improving overall email marketing efforts. So take this occasion to test those aspects that have a significant impact on recurring emails. The following are the different types of email marketing program tests.
- Plain text email – Instead of sending emails that have colorful headers and graphics in the body, try instead to use blank templates that mimic an Outlook or Gmail email.
- Visual Call To Action (CTA) – Test to check what kind of CTA is more favorable to people; text-based link or button style. This can help improve the whole performance of your email program.
- Layout rearrangement – Upon taking another look at your newsletter, determine whether another version can be created while retaining the same information.
- CTA button placement – Basic promotional offers that have only a single offer; determine whether the CTA button works better on the left, right or bottom of the email.
- Send small batches to determine optimal time – Before sending a scheduled batch email; send a series of 10 emails at different times of the day and on different days of the week. This will help in getting a better picture of what time and day is perfect for your company. Then send your batch emails to the larger group using fewer pre-chosen options.
- Content type – According to which group you are sending emails to, adjust the content placed in the main content area and analyze what performs best.
- Segment vise testing of content – Testing your content on different segments can help produce different results and will aid in achieving a more refined email program.
The best and one of the most powerful aspects of email marketing is that it can be tested and hence optimized. Following best practices is not a path that leads to success as what works for one audience might not work for the other.
Even though the subject line is the most popular email marketing element that is tested, closely followed by the content of the message itself, there are still other email elements that are just as testable.
They include from-name, day of the week, time of day, frequency, mostly-images vs. Mostly-text, short copy vs. long copy, links vs. buttons, number of links, unsubscribe at the top, first name personalization in the subject line and in the email body, animated gifs, font colors, font styles, opt-down, social sharing icons, social connecting icons, delivery by time zone, call to action number and placement, post-click landing page, social proof, human vs. corporate tone, and copy length.
When it comes to email testing, start simple, test one element at a time and keep a check on the time of the day and the day of the week you are sending. Make sure you keep a log of all your tests so you can learn from them and improve. Email testing should be part of your day-to-day processes and must be run on small groups that are just large enough to make a clear difference.
Remember that even small variances can make a big difference and most importantly, listen closely to what your tests tell you! It doesn’t matter how much testing you do, if you are not making the required changes and modifications to your email campaigns, you are going to continue being unsuccessful.