101 Things You Could Be Testing

Testing should go well beyond the subject line. According to eConsultancy’s 2012 Email Marketing Industry Census, 66% of email marketers test subject lines regularly. Second on the list is time/day of week, at 44%, and it goes down significantly from there. Only 16% of marketers test email frequency.

As I talk to marketers running email programs, it's clear they've adopted the “test, test, test” mantra. Marketers know they should test, but it’s easy to get in a rut testing the same things over and over again (e.g., subject lines).

The following is a personal list compiled and modified over the past 10 years. Not all of these will be relevant to your program. And some of them are more likely to have a significant impact on performance than others. Take a look and see if any of these present new opportunities for you to test and improve your email program.

  1. Sender Names
  2. From Address
  3. Name Personalization
  4. Gender Segmentation
  5. Geographic Segmentation
  6. Other Demographic Segmentation (Income, Marital Status, Children, etc.)
  7. Occupation
  8. Prospect vs. Customer
  9. Loyal Customer vs. One-Time Customer
  10. Last Open / Click Date
  11. Last Store Visit Date
  12. Intro Text—Content
  13. Intro Text—Copy Style
  14. Body Text—Content
  15. Body Text—Copy Style
  16. Closing Text—Content
  17. Closing Text—Style
  18. Header Image—Present / Not Present
  19. Header Image—Style
  20. Home City / State / Airport / Etc.
  21. Store / Branch / Office Location
  22. Maps
  23. Sales Representative
  24. Travel Destination
  25. Travel Time
  26. Recent Transactions / History
  27. Overt Recommendations (i.e.,  “You may also like…”)
  28. Subtle Recommendations (i.e., personalized, but not overtly)
  29. Weather
  30. Price Brackets
  31. Whitepapers
  32. Organized vs. Unorganized Product / Article / Content Categories
  33. Ad Unit Placement / Configuration
  34. Ad Unit Sizes
  35. Referral Offers
  36. HTML vs. Text-Only
  37. Mobile-First Layout
  38. Responsive Layout (i.e., Optimized to Screen Size)
  39. Animated GIFs
  40. Embedded Video
  41. Ratings and Reviews
  42. Price Points
  43. Price Strikeouts
  44. Font Type
  45. Font Colors
  46. Headlines
  47. Sub-headlines
  48. Signatures
  49. Personalities (e.g., Editor, Author, Sales Rep, Executive)
  50. Location Shots
  51. Lifestyle Shots
  52. Product Shots
  53. Links vs. Buttons
  54. Link / Button Placement
  55. Link / Button Copy / Call-to-Action
  56. Icons
  57. Bullet-Proof Buttons
  58. Postcard Layouts
  59. Newsletter Layouts
  60. Horizontal Scrolling
  61. Event Focus
  62. Polls
  63. Privacy Policy Language
  64. Unsubscribe Copy
  65. Opt-Down
  66. Heavy vs. Light Imagery
  67. Long Copy vs. Short Copy
  68. Phone Numbers (e.g., Click-to-Call)
  69. Social Media Buttons
  70. Facebook “Like” Teaser Copy
  71. Facebook Comments / Testimonials
  72. Facebook Friends that “Like” Something
  73. Follower Tweets / Testimonials
  74. Pins
  75. Local Foursquare Mayor
  76. Taglines
  77. Press Mentions
  78. Limited Time
  79. Last Chance
  80. Number of Products / Articles / Etc.
  81. Teaser Copy Length
  82. Social Proof (e.g., Number of Likes, Tweets, Views, Comments, Etc.)
  83. Exclusive Email Offers
  84. Editors Pick
  85. Staff Favorites
  86. Customer Favorites
  87. Background Color
  88. Background Images
  89. Landing Pages
  90. Preheader Text
  91. Navigation Bars
  92. Search Forms
  93. Free Shipping
  94. Percent Off vs. Money Off
  95. Print Options
  96. Versioning by ISP
  97. Add to Address Book
  98. Time of Day
  99. Day of Week



100.Delivery by Timezone

101.And yes… Subject Lines

I welcome any and all additions you would like to add. My hope is merely that this list will help stir your creative juices. If you add all the content specific to your products and services, I imagine you can quickly get the list up to 150.

There is truly no end to the things we can test in email; it’s likely there are changes you could make today that would increase your performance by double digits or more. Why limit testing to a few small things in hopes of improving performance by a percentage point here and there? Break out of the rut and dream big!


3 comments about "101 Things You Could Be Testing".
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  1. Amanda Berkey from ExactTarget, July 18, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.

    I love this post! I'd love to do a #nexuscafe chat about this topic, inspired by this post. Let me know if you're free on a Thursday in August! The user community would love it. The always ask to discuss testing in their meetings.

  2. Lynn Dalsing from ividence, July 18, 2012 at 2:07 p.m.

    Fantastic post! It's always great to get the creative juices flowing to come up with new ideas. Sometimes those even become your best ways to generate new content ideas.

    Some other ideas:
    - Birthday emails that are targeted by month, week or date (so whether you get a boost or decline by sending on the actual date vs. at the beginning of the birthday month)
    - Similarly timing for event-based emails (there's SO much data here: % of RSVPs, % of attended, etc)
    - User Generated Content for a Newsletter vs. Your Standard newsletter

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  3. Dave Hendricks from LiveIntent, July 20, 2012 at 10:43 a.m.

    Nice List. So many things to test!

    You should add 'Real Time targeted ad/offer content' (can be your own ad/product doesn't have to be third party).

    If you're reading this and want to test 1st party offer optimization within your own emails, contact LiveIntent!

    It's amazing what you can do when you trigger content at time of open rather than time of send.

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