"A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means." - William Hazlitt
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Email marketing is an art and a one size fits all approach
frequently does not work. Commonly preached and accepted
best practices do not always generate the highest return.
It's up to you to test the so called "Truths" of email
marketing and find out what is most effective with your
It's been found that people who A/B test their email
campaigns improve their open rates by 11% and generate
17% more clicks.
Recently, I've discovered 4 email marketing test studies that
have interesting revelations. These test findings turn some
best practice truths on their head. Let's review these shockers:
1. Stop Sharing Your Emails in Social Media
Yes, I know this is a surprising statement. Typically, it is
recommended that you share in your social media a link to
the web version of your latest email. The point of sharing
your email content on social media is to expand the
readership of your messages.
But, there is a downside you need to consider.
With ISPs now determining your inbox email delivery based
upon the number of opens and reads of your message on
their platform the game is changing. You want your audience
reading your email content in their inboxes.
When you notifying your social media followers to read
your latest email content on your site, those individuals
are unlikely to then open your email. As a result, to an
ISP your subscriber list appears less engaged and your
Instead try this idea. Use your social media to inform your
audience to check their email for your latest issue.
What Counts recently began running a test on utilizing the
"check your email" strategy with their social media followers.
The result has been a noticeable increase in their email open
rates! Good news for their ongoing delivery to the inbox.
Why not give this idea a test with your own email marketing
and see how your delivery and open rates improve.
Click to review the What Count's Test
2) The word Free does not always improve response.
In marketing circles, "free", is often deemed as a powerful
word that always generates more results. I've seen it
recommended that you use "free" in your subject line and
in your call to actions.
You may think that the word "free" could hurt delivery and
thus your response rate. Testing and studies shows this is
not the case.
ISPs' delivery filters evaluate your reputation first before
specific keywords. According to Return Path, 78% of
delivery issues are due to reputation and the other 22% is
due to content. And Free is not even in the top 20 of filtered
So it is not delivery issues that can cause the word "free"
to be less effective. Instead it's possible that the word
"free" can have a negative connotation and raise doubt
about an offers value.
A HubSpot email test evaluated the use of "Free" in their
subject line and offer. They compared results of "Free
Guide" vs. "SEO Guide". Here were the 2 subject lines
(Free Guide) How to Master Internal Link Building for SEO
(SEO Guide) How to Master Internal Link Building for SEO
The "SEO Guide" generated a click-through rate that was
17% better than "Free Guide".
Clearly their audience was more receptive to the word
"SEO" than the word "Free."
Before you use "Free" as a magic bullet in your next email
promotion, run a test first. Another word might be better.
Click to review the HubSpot Test
3) Weekdays during work hours are the best time to email.
It's been promoted that your prospects and customers are at
their desks during the day and thus they're around and
available to get your emails. I've seen it reported as best
practices that you should not send email overnight from
10pm - 9am as it's going into an abyss.
The reality of email marketing and with life in general is
that people are busy - really busy. We all check our email
at different times, when we have time.
New studies are showing that overnight and early mornings
are in fact the best times to send email. From 4am - 12pm
open rates are on the rise.
The increase in mobile email usage has people regularly
checking their inboxes first thing in the morning when
they get up - not just when they get into work.
Further a MailerMailer report is finding that Sunday
generates the highest open and click rates. Not during
the work week at all!
The MaierMailer study also showed that messages sent out
starting at 12am received the highest open and click through
rates. Those sent during the middle of the day get the
The point of these findings is that it's essential to test
mailing times to your subscribers. You may discover a
Sunday email promotion gets a huge response.
Click to review the MailerMailer Test
4) Presentation improves performance.
Yes, I know you've heard that sending out a beautifully
formatted HTML email will drive up your response. It's best
practice after all to send a nicely laid out email message
with lots of visuals.
The fact is content, not presentation, is the deciding factor of
your emails returns. Sending out valuable information in a
plain text message will get you a similar response as the
fancy HTML email.
Snazzy HTML emails lacking good content will fail.
The email newsletter, Marketing Over Coffee, ran a test to
compare the response rates of their simple text design vs.
a professionally designed, stylish HTML, image rich
The test included the same content, just presented in
different formats - simple vs. fancy.
The results revealed NO difference in response. Both
newsletter formats generated the same open and click
Again, best practices were turned on their ear with these
findings. Rather than spend time on creating the best design
- focus on getting the best content.
And of course, test, test, test. Your subscribers could be
more swayed by a different presentation.
Click to review the Marketing Over Coffee Test
One final tip as you consider running your tests, test your
whole list. Here again, best practices have noted you can
test just 20% of your list and then go with the findings.
Research from the above highlighted tests indicates 50/50
A/B split test provide better results. A full list test allows
you to use the largest possible sample size and then fully
evaluate your results.
So start testing ideas to your email subscribers and you
will improve your email results.
P.S. If you want to review additional email tests you can
run for the highest performance increase be sure to see:
Top 6 Email Tests for Best Return
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