Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Testing Part of Your Email Campaigns? Survey Says "No"

In April I blogged about utilizing legacy marketing practices - particularly testing - in online marketing campaigns. This subject was recently highlighted in B2B Magazine’s online edition, which detailed a white paper published by Experian Marketing Services, A guide to effective email testing. In its introductory remarks, the paper cited research published by Forrester Research last October, Benchmark your Email Organization, noting that 20% of respondents surveyed for the report did not test email at all, and 55% reported limited or ad hoc testing.

Quick math: that leaves 25% of the organizations responding reporting a continued email testing program. And that’s across industries – I would venture to guess, unfortunately, that in the Events arena those numbers are lower. Given the constant churn of events and campaigns, event marketers historically overall have focused on developing and managing ongoing testing strategies. Which is a lost opportunity to gather some hard intelligence on your prospect base.

To that end, given the challenges the economy and the events industry is facing, I’m stressing to you, the reader, that you need to take the time to establish and execute a testing strategy for your upcoming email marketing efforts. This does not need to be a complex, multivariate test; gaining quick, actionable data on elements that can be rolled out across a portfolio of events should ultimately be the goal.

Suggestions in the Experian paper, and their applicability to the Events industry, include:

Timing Tests: There is always debate over what information prospects need and when – add to that optimal timing (and promotion) of early bird deadlines and this is an area ripe for testing. The reality is timing will vary pending segment – but gaining insight on when to best send each communication is a key piece of knowledge – the potential for increased view/clicks is invaluable. This test can be time of day, day of week, weeks from event – or a combinations of these (as long as a large enough sample exists.) You can also drill down into what list segments respond best at what times.

Subject Line Tests: These should be done across a spectrum of events and over time to gain aggregate results. There are a variety of elements that can be tested: Experian suggestions include personalized vs. non-personalized, offer vs. no offer, short vs. long and branded vs. non-branded. One important facet I would include is push vs. pull – an ‘announcing XYZ event’ vs. ‘learn about XYZ’ – logic would dictate the second would pull better – but you won’t know until you test!

Creative Tests: An opportunity to test different creative schemes – but also to test HTML vs. text/non-image HTML. As the world moves toward mobile devices, images are blocked, etc. you may find that plan text messaging is the most effective for either the audience overall or certain segments of the audience. (Note: The metric for creative testing is clicks, not opens.)

Offer Tests: Test Early Bird price points, group price tests, testing premiums, etc. – send offers with various price breaks – and some with no price breaks – and see if discounts have an impact – if the answer is ‘no’ think of the retained revenue!

And again, test one element at a time (or two – i.e. testing four datasets and testing subject line and creative) – beyond that you are in the arena of multivariate testing – not impossible, but not to be tried without input from a third party or colleague versed in statistics to validate this scheme.

So take the time, set up your tests – and become a better marketer with the results!

Good luck!

John Gibb

No comments:

Post a Comment