Marketing Sherpa’s 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report revealed the campaign elements which were undergoing testing by various companies. Only 39% of businesses surveyed by the Marketing Sherpa study report that they engage in email testing. Regrettably, this statistic leaves more than three out of every five companies with no way to understand how the various elements of their emails succeed or fail to appeal to their audience.
The email elements which are reported as being tested by this report are:
From Line: 31% – The least tested element with fewer than a third of all marketers considering it important enough to test is quickly gaining prominence as one of the elements with the greatest impact on open rates. The latest generation mobile device interfaces such as Apple’s iOS 5 are placing greater emphasis on the From line than ever before.
The iPhone and iPad’s new Notification Center displays a thin ribbon at the top of the screen for incoming emails where the From line is shown prominently bolded and the first few words of the preheader are below it, in smaller roman type. On these devices, the subject line is missing from the initial notification entirely.
Landing Pages: 40% – Only two out of five of all companies test their landing pages, which are a critical conversion element. The best call to action can’t live up to its potential if the landing page is confusing, has dead links, or displays inconsistently across mobile platforms. Relatively minor elements in a landing page such as the positioning of a subscribe button can have significant effects on conversion rates, thus
Personalization: 40% – The same low percentage test personalization which is also a critical factor leading to conversion. Subscribers will be alienated by boilerplate messaging that fails to engage them on a personal level, but non-testers cannot determine which of their personalization elements are functioning well or not at all.
Time Of Day Sent: 47% & Day Of Week Sent: 48% – The timing of sending out emails is both an art and a science. Different industry sectors show wildly differing preferences, and there are considerable variations even between competitors in the same field. With less than half of all tests being directed towards determining proper timing, the majority of email marketers are still getting this wrong.
Layout & Images: 54% – Barely over half test these elements which can have a huge impact on how your customers interact with your emails. Testers find that a very minor change in layout or moving an image just a bit can have a measurable impact on the conversion rates.
Calls To Action: 61% – Not testing your call to action is roughly equivalent to simply placing an open sign on your door and hoping someone shows up. Within the content of your email there is no other single element which has a greater impact on your conversions than the call to action, so it becomes imperative to test as many variations as possible.
Message Greeting, Body & Closing: 64% – It is interesting to note that almost two thirds of all email marketers subject their entire message to testing when it essentially consists of two very separate sections: the preheader & the rest of the email. The preheader is gaining in impact with the proliferation of email clients and mobile web enabled devices.
Subject Line Phrasing & Length: 90% – By far the most popular element to test, with fully nine out of every ten email marketers subjecting it to A/B split and multivariate testing strategies. Conventionally the subject line has been the “make it or break it” aspect of any email missive, but its predominance is being challenged by various mobile devices which provide pre-open displays of only the From line and a bit of the preheader.
Testing is an integral part of email marketing which many businesses tend to ignore. Only a bare minority of marketers engage in testing for the critical elements in their emails, and they are the only ones who are able to make the informed determinations that can improve their campaigns.