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.
- Sender Names
- From Address
- Gender Segmentation
- Geographic Segmentation
- Other Demographic Segmentation (Income, Marital Status, Children, etc.)
- Loyal Customer vs. One-Time Customer
- Last Open / Click Date
- Last Store Visit Date
- Intro Text—Content
- Intro Text—Copy
- Body Text—Content
- Body Text—Copy Style
- Closing Text—Content
- Closing Text—Style
- Header Image—Present / Not
- Header Image—Style
- Home City / State / Airport / Etc.
- Store / Branch / Office Location
- Sales Representative
- Travel Time
- Recent Transactions / History
- Overt Recommendations (i.e., “You may also like…”)
- Subtle Recommendations (i.e.,
personalized, but not overtly)
- Price Brackets
- Organized vs. Unorganized Product / Article / Content Categories
- Ad Unit Placement /
- Ad Unit Sizes
- Referral Offers
- HTML vs. Text-Only
- Mobile-First Layout
- Responsive Layout (i.e., Optimized to Screen Size)
- Animated GIFs
- Embedded Video
- Ratings and Reviews
- Price Points
- Price Strikeouts
- Font Type
- Font Colors
- Personalities (e.g., Editor, Author, Sales Rep, Executive)
- Location Shots
- Lifestyle Shots
- Product Shots
- Link / Button Placement
- Link / Button Copy / Call-to-Action
- Bullet-Proof Buttons
- Postcard Layouts
- Newsletter Layouts
- Horizontal Scrolling
- Event Focus
- Unsubscribe Copy
- Heavy vs. Light Imagery
- Long Copy vs.
- Phone Numbers (e.g., Click-to-Call)
- Social Media Buttons
- Facebook “Like” Teaser Copy
- Facebook Comments / Testimonials
Friends that “Like” Something
- Follower Tweets / Testimonials
- Local Foursquare Mayor
- Press Mentions
- Last Chance
- Number of Products / Articles / Etc.
- Teaser Copy Length
- Social Proof (e.g., Number of Likes, Tweets, Views, Comments, Etc.)
- Editors Pick
- Staff Favorites
- Customer Favorites
- Background Color
- Background Images
- Landing Pages
- Preheader Text
- Navigation Bars
- Search Forms
- Free Shipping
- Percent Off vs. Money Off
- Print Options
- Versioning by ISP
- Add to Address Book
- 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!
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.
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.
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.