Taste the soup: The importance of testing in email marketing by Rory Carlyle @rorycarlyle

Taste the Soup - The Importance of testing in Email Marketing

In email marketing it’s imperative to test and test everything. The variables that can positively change the outcome of an  email marketing deployment/campaign are numerous.  Combine those deployment variables with the preferences of the recipient lists being sent to and one can see how daunting testing can be.  However; emailing lists without testing is like a chef who never tastes his soup before serving it to patrons and then never listening to the patrons once they provide feedback about his food.  One can assume that the restaurant won’t last too long if he keeps the environment the same.

Understanding where to try some basic tests is key to getting the optimization ball rolling.  Checking to see if the HTML emails render properly across the email clients receiving the sends would be a great start. Recipients wont give a marketing campaign email the time of day if they can’t read it or see the message.  This is a simple test to establish and some ESP’s will provide a service for clients to test their emails beforehand, but there are other stand-alone tools ( for example: www.litmusapp.com) that will also do the trick.  Secondly, test the ‘from’ name to make sure they also recognize who is sending them email. Now the recipients can read the message as well as clearly tell whom it’s coming from.  Lastly, test the campaign’s subject line. Does personalization, changing character length, etc help? Try testing these areas of email and watch the results closely.

While these are only a few basic variables to test and analyze, one can see how these types of tests can be applied to all aspects of an email marketing campaign.  The chef will always check the stock of the soup as well as the seasoning and contents being added in, ensuring that the end result is exactly what was expected. Also, keeping in mind things that will make the soup better for the next batch created.

Takeaway: I would encourage anyone involved in email marketing to test and optimize frequently, small changes can make a big impact in your campaigns if implemented correctly.  Email marketing can be a large revenue driver for businesses; making sure your email is healthy and efficient is where testing is most crucial.

Viva la Email!

Meet the author:

Rory Carlyle

Rory Carlyle

Rory Carlyle is the author for VivaLaEmail.com. He's also an Email-Geek, frequent twitter hound, web-analytics nut and an all-around dweeb. Rounding out a 8+ year stint in interactive marketing, finding a home with email marketing, and becoming the most awesomest person ever; Rory keeps his hands full with his passion. Hoping to make the web a better place one inbox at a time, Rory loves talking email marketing all day. Outside of work; Rory takes his Jeep into the Rockies, thinks big thoughts and takes flights to random locations.

Connect with: Rory Carlyle

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  • Jim Ducharme
    April 8, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Great debut post Rory!

    I like the fact that you’ve broken this subject down into easily “digestible info” because more people need to be aware of how important testing is to their email marketing!

    Again, welcome to the team here @ The eMail Guide!


    • Rory Carlyle
      April 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

      Thanks Jim! I hope the soup was good. 🙂

  • Jordie van Rijn
    April 8, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Nice post Rory!

    I would like to add that there are two types of testing:
    1. Is it working properly?
    Does the email render correctly, are the links working, does personalisation work, etc,etc This is not optional.

    2. What works best
    Next to that you can go craxy optimizing almost every part of your email, seeing what influences the outcome and reach your goals more easy! For companies who take their emailmarketing serious, this is also not optional.

    • Rory Carlyle
      April 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Agreed, there’s necessity and then optimization, but both require testing. An email marketer that doesn’t test his/her work might as hang their hat up. Just because the email looks good in Outlook 2003 doesn’t mean your free and clear! 🙂

  • Garin Kilpatrick
    April 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Cool post Rory,

    I’ve found that MailChimp offers cool services for both kinds of testing. They have a tool to make sure that an email will look great across all email clients, and another tool for A/B split testing so that email components like subject lines can be as optimized and as effective as possible.

    Viva la email!


  • Anna Yeaman
    March 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Love the title Rory! It’s amazing the impact tiny design changes can have on conversions, such as color a/b tests.

    I always like to test my mobile layouts after each iPhone iOS upgrade. Just yesterday 4.3 was released and the first thing I did was check out a few templates. I’ve seen some break from generation – generation…

    – Anna

    • Rory Carlyle
      March 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks Anna! It’s always the little things 😉

  • ruiwantblog
    March 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    You really do a perfect job at email marketing research. Thanks you! your soup is a great meal!

  • Eytan Abrahams
    August 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I would also add, only test one variable at a time, so that you can see what change was the one that made the difference.

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