Confused By Contradictory Guru Advice? A/B Testing Will Let You Know What Your Customers Think

We all know what annoys us, as consumers, about branded emails arriving in our inbox. These can vary from person to person but there are some good, general rules to abide by to avoid people clicking on the "unsubscribe" link, or even worse, ignoring your emails or deleting them.

Fortunately, many of these have been put together in a very handy infographic today that gives the bad news that 40% of adults claim to never read marketing emails, as well as the good news that personalised emails get a 30% lift in click-through rates, so not all is lost.

To be honest, there is nothing too revolutionary in the infographic's findings. Personalised greetings and writing brief, to the point messages in the same tone as your brand would speak, are the key takeaways for writing style. A very useful trick is to include past details such as previous purchases in an email to show that you understand the customer and are making sensible recommendations that are truly useful to them. Being a personalised sender such as 'Jane at Brand X' is also a far better idea than a generic brand name or the dreaded 'no-reply@'.

Interestingly, the latest advice on the all-important subject line runs parallel to what many research studies suggest, although counter to a recent one we carried in EuroMail. The latter had suggested long subject lines were OK, as was putting in a price or a statistic or two. With today's infographic we're back to the familiar territory of subject headings with 6-10 words and 50-60 characters getting the highest open rates. 

When it comes to those words, the advice falls again on traditional territory. Making someone curious or being very definite about a time-restricted offer work best, and if you're wondering when to send, we're back to the familiar territory of weekdays -- particularly Monday to Wednesday -- being ideal, particularly around 11 am.

it can be hard for email marketers to put all their faith in a single study because, as mentioned, this infographic suggests that shorter and punchier headlines than was suggested by another recent finding. Similarly, today's infographic suggests that weekends are not good times to email. It's traditional advice, but it was recently challenged by another study that suggested weekends are a missed opportunity.

So the conclusion has to be that A/B testing should be the guide. Take on the advice of gurus, but then go out there and test those theories on your own audience and see how the figures look. They will tell you sooner than any marketing guru what works and what doesn't.

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