The Staying Power of Good Ideas: 5 Time-tested Tips for Email Marketing

The Staying Power of Good Ideas: 5 Time-tested Tips for Email Marketing

We all love what’s new and shiny, but sometimes you get better results by focusing on the basics and just executing really well.

Case in point: MarketingSherpa posted recently about a set of email marketing tests presented at its 2010 Email Summit. We’ve summarized the tests and some of the results presented below:

Test idea #1. Opt-in incentives. Offer a tangible incentive, perhaps a coupon or a gift. Dell had great results with a coupon incentive over a holiday season, getting a lift 14 times greater than average.

Test idea #2. Personalization.  Very basic, very effective. Expedia CruiseShipCenters did two tests:

  • First, the team began sending emails from a real consultant in its travel agent network rather than the from the generic company email address. They got a 0.5% higher open rate; 23% higher clickthrough, and were less likely to be flagged as spam.
  • Next, they personalized the subject line with the recipient’s first name, which gave them a 10% lift in open rates.

Test idea #3. Call-to-action placement and button size.  Email design and layout tests are another prime area to find improvements. Salesforce.com made two changes to a template design—moving the call-to-action and making clickable buttons larger, and increased their click-through rate 26-27%.

Test idea #4. Video links. Technical issues and deliverability hurdles make embedding video directly into email a significant challenge for marketers. Try using a screenshot of the video or embedding a link for video playback. The Interactive Intelligence team began including video screenshots and playback links in their email newsletters, and found that Video links receive double or triple the number of clicks as text links.

Test idea #5. Email frequency. You can begin by using industry best practices, but your organization and your customers are unique. You’ll need to test to determine the optimal frequency for a specific email program. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, described a test his team performed with an e-commerce partner selling special occasion gifts:

  • First they identified a loyal segment of the list; then, over the course of 60 days, they tested frequencies ranging from one message every other day to one message every three weeks.
  • They monitored monthly revenue from email along with unsubscribe rates.
  • They found that sending an email once every other day increased revenue 3x compared to sending email once a week, while unsubscribe rates on a per-message basis did not rise significantly

Market conditions and buyer patterns are always changing, so—even though there are always new products and trends hitting the market, it’s always the right time to look to the basics and test to make sure you’re getting the most from your email marketing infrastructure and efforts.

Thanks again to MarketingSherpa for this great information about improving email programs! Be sure to join us July 12th at 10 am Pacific for How 4 Steps Can Transform Your Social Media Strategy, a one-hour webinar in which MarketingSherpa will share research, case studies and insights on how you can develop a four-step strategy for transforming your marketing programs by thinking differently about social media.


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