Andrea Johnson

How to Improve Email Performance by Using the Right Words in the Right Order

April 16th, 2015

Email is more important than ever before. Consider these statistics:

However, even if you have the finest email distribution technology reaching the most thoughtfully developed and segmented email list, if the recipient deletes the email instantly, it’s all for naught. In contrast, if recipients consistently open your emails, read them and take action, you’ll see results.

That’s why knowing how to write a strong email subject line is critical.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert copywriter to do it. You just need to know the elements that have been proven to drive more opens and clickthroughs.

To find out what they are, be sure to watch the most recent MarketingExperiments Web clinic. It examines multiple subject line experiments and several live tests, while outlining what worked, what didn’t and why. Within 30 minutes, you’ll have the knowledge you need to start writing winning subject lines.

We’ll examine two experiments from the clinic here:

 

Background: A regional marketing commission that has been anonymized.

Goal: To raise awareness of local activities and events to increase the number of travelers and tourists.

Research Question: Which subject line will generate the most opens and clickthrough?

Test Design: A/B split test (protected)

Note: Boston was the substitute city used for this presentation.

 

Experiment #1

 

The Control asked recipients if they’re a fall foodie and then invited them to see what’s going on in the region.


The Treatment used words that are tangible; you can almost taste the flavors of the city. This tempted recipients by immediately inviting them to partake in a uniquely Bostonian dining experience.

 

Results

The Treatment’s subject line drove 10% more recipients to open their emails. From that, there was a 15% lift in those who clicked through from that email to learn more about what’s going on in Boston.

 

Experiment #2

 

This Control provided a specific offer: what they’re saving (30% off), where they’re going to be saving it (a hotel) and when they’ll be saving (December).

 

The Treatment mentions nothing of hotel savings and, instead, focuses on the experiences the recipient will enjoy by visiting Boston.

 

Results

The Treatment outperformed the Control in both opens and clickthrough. The subject line convinced 9% more recipients to open their emails. From there, 26% more clicked through from the email to learn about what’s going on in Boston. 

What these tests teach us about subject lines

• Use words that are specific and tangible

Both winning headlines created an image in the recipient’s mind about what he or she would experience in Boston: dining on lobster rolls, attending the orchestra and holiday shopping. While 30% off a hotel room may seem specific, it’s sales-oriented and vague.

A strong subject line will clearly communicate value that the recipient genuinely cares about. That will be expanded on in the email to produce the continuity, which will ultimately result in higher clickthrough.

• Lead with what the recipient will get, rather than what the recipient must do.

In the first Control, the recipient had to answer a question. In the second, he had to “book now.” In contrast, the first Treatment focuses on the delicious dishes the recipient will have a chance of experiencing by visiting Boston; the second focuses entirely on the experiences he’ll receive. Don’t focus on what you want the customer to do for you. Instead, put yourself in the mind of the customer and ask, “What is the very best that I’m going to receive by opening the email?” Lead your subject line that way.

• The “ask” in both winning subject lines is implicit rather than explicit.

The first Control leads by asking the recipient a question: “Are you a fall foodie?” The second asks to “Book now.” Nothing is asked of the recipients in the Treatment subject lines. Instead, the subject lines’ imply what the recipient will have to do to experience the value the subject lines communicate. But first, the recipients will have to open the email.

 

You might also like

Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate? [MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week]

Marketing Research Chart: Does email produce an ROI? [MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week]

Email Marketing: How a B2B company lifted conversion 200% with personalized email messages [MarketingSherpa case study]

MECLABS Email Messaging Online Course [MECLABS online certification course]

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Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , ,

Jessica Lorenz

How Design Impacts User Experience: Reducing anxiety by infusing your page with value

April 13th, 2015

In the age of free content, how can you capture leads and foster a relationship with people that consume the articles, videos and updates on your site?

Site design and the quality of content you produce can strongly influence the way that people engage with your site.

Using an example from the Harvard Business Review, we can see an example of a layout infused with value for the user.

First, the Harvard Business Review lets users read up to five articles before asking for a commitment. This allows visitors to get a sense of the breadth and quality of content so they can ensure that they’re getting a valuable experience.

Let’s review the overall look, feel and strategy of its registration process and design as well as examine how it impacts the visitor throughout the registration process.

 

Paywall page

After reading the fifth article, the user is given two options: Register for free in exchange for more information, or subscribe to the all-access version.

Let’s take a look at how the page is laid out.

 

First, look at the white space.

Can you feel the fresh air?

S – p – a – c – e

The simplicity of the page creates a “no pressure” feeling and lets the visitor know that they aren’t seeing an ad or being urged to make a decision.

However, you can clearly see the two defined calls-to-action, separated by a thin gray line.

Both sides indicate some level of value. However, the paid option has an image and lists several more bullet points worth of advantages over the free option.

Read more…

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Categories: Site Design Tags: , , ,

John Tackett

A/B Testing: What choices does your content really influence?

April 9th, 2015

Some tests and their results provide the opportunity to open up bigger discussions.

They are true diamonds in the rough that reveal some interesting insights about not only customers, but also us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes a small look inward can have a big impact out the look outward.

In today’s MarketingExperiments blog post, I wanted to share with you an interesting experiment from a recent Web clinic that increased lead rate 331% by optimizing the company’s value exchange experience with prospects.

 

Background: Migraine Treatment Centers of America offers an innovative long-term migraine treatment solution to people suffering from migraines.

Goal: To increase leads from the microsite.

Primary Research Question: Which value exchange strategy will result in a higher conversion rate?

Test Design: A/B multifactor split

 

The MECLABS Institute research team hypothesized that one of the biggest problems with the control was it did not effectively connect momentum created by the content to the next logical step in the conversion process.

Simply put, the site had content and it had calls-to-action, but the problem was a substantial break in continuity between them.

  Read more…

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Categories: Lead Generation Tags: , ,

Paul Cheney

Here’s Why Most A/B Testing is Boring and Not Really Worth the Trouble

April 6th, 2015

Do a quick Google search on “things to a/b test on a website,” scan the results for a moment, then come back and read the rest of this article.

Most of you reading this are marketers, so you know I’m taking a big risk by telling you to go do something else before you read my article.

In fact if you’re reading this now, you’re probably one of the very few who made it back from that incredibly distracting activity I had you do. Thank you. You are exactly the person I want to be reading this. The others can go on their merry way. They are not the ones who need to hear this.

I had you do that search because the Internet is full of people telling you to test things on your website such as color, button size, layouts, forms, etc. I wanted you to get an idea for what’s out there.

Now, I want you to understand why almost everyone writing those articles is wrong

… or at the very least, missing the point.

Please don’t view this as me putting down the people who wrote those articles. I know a few of them personally, and I highly respect the work they are doing. This is not about whether their work is good or bad.

I’ve personally written many articles exactly like the ones they’re writing. In fact, they have one up on me because at least their articles are ranking in Google for popular search terms.

The reason they are missing the point is that most of those articles are focused on the elements of a page rather than the serving of a customer.

I get why they do it.

Webpages are far easier to understand than people. Webpages are a collection of 0s and 1s. People are a collection of who knows what.

And most of you, readers, are looking for webpage fixes — not a deeper, fuller way to serve your customer.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with you, but it’s just that we naturally focus on our own self-interest. It isn’t wrong in itself.

What is wrong is the methods we use to achieve our own goals. I don’t mean morally wrong. I mean practically wrong.

 

Our objective should always be: Make as much money possible.

MECLABS Institute has found after more than 15 years of research that the best method for achieving this objective is to spend as much money possible on serving your customer.

Until we can view every A/B test we run as an opportunity to better serve our customers, we will just be running (ultimately) ineffective tests on page elements.

It doesn’t really matter in the long run which color, layout or page element is going to perform well.

The Internet is constantly changing. Design trends are always going to influence how we look at webpages and their elements. What matters for marketers in the long run is how well we understand and, consequently, how well we can serve our customers.

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, calls this understanding of our customers “customer wisdom.

This is also why he often says, “The goal of a test is not to get a lift, but rather to get a learning.”

However, it’s one thing to hear this, another to really understand what it means.

It really means we want to conduct research, not run a test.

We want to learn a tangible lesson about our customer so that we can apply it to other areas of our marketing and achieve a maximum return on the amount of time and energy we spend on testing.

Let me show you what I mean with a real-world example. Here’s what happens when you just run an A/B test that is focused on a page element. Let’s take color for instance.

You have two treatments. The only thing changed is the background color. 

 

You also have a result. In this case, the result was a 19.5% increase in clickthrough at a 92% level of confidence. But here’s where things get tricky.

Read more…

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Categories: Analytics & Testing Tags: , , , , ,

Michael Rendon

Permission Pass Email Send: A proven method for cleaning your mailing list

April 2nd, 2015

If you are reading this, you are likely in one of two positions:

  1. You have decided it is time to cleanse your email list of the inactive subscribers that no longer engage with your email sends, or …
  2. You need to stay compliant with your email management software (EMS), and you are being required to send your subscribers a permission pass to keep emailing them. A permission pass is a one-time send to an email list to reconfirm permission to email.

If you are in the latter position, don’t panic. This is actually a good opportunity to clean up your list and increase engagement with your current list.

At MarketingExperiments, our team recently did just that. We sent out a permission pass email to clean our list of inactive subscribers (which only drag down our rates).

We decided to run a test on the permission pass email based off of a previous blog that Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, wrote back in September for a re-engagement campaign MarketingExperiments implemented after the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. While this campaign was not a permission pass, it was similar, and we were able to work off the findings from that campaign to formulate the test discussed in this blog post.

The main objective of the test was to see if subscribers would be more willing to opt back in with us if we offered them an incentive. While discovering that incentives were not valuable to inactive subscribers, our team also uncovered some valuable takeaways that will be quite insightful for any future permission pass sends.

 

Treatment #1. General Value

Treatment #1 focused on reminding subscribers of the value they would continue to receive with MarketingExperiments. 

 

Treatment #2. General Value and Incentive Offering

Treatment #2 also communicated a reminder of the value subscribers would continue to receive with MarketingExperiments. Additionally, it alerted them that by opting back in with MarketingExperiments, they would be entered to win a free MECLABS online training course.

Read more…

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Categories: Email Marketing Tags: , , , , , , ,

Brian Carroll

Direct from the Source: What a value proposition is, what it isn’t and the 5 questions it must answer

March 30th, 2015

Michael Lanning invented the term “value proposition” back in the 80s. Since then, it has become a staple in the marketing lexicon, and volumes have been written on the subject, including Lanning’s own book, Delivering Profitable Value: A Revolutionary Framework to Accelerate Growth, Generate Wealth, and Rediscover the Heart of Business.

I had the privilege of speaking with him recently about how the concept has evolved over the past three decades and what he thought about that evolution.

“‘Value proposition’ has been widely adopted since the 1990s as a marketing and selling tool — everyone knows they need a good value proposition to sell their product,’” Michael said.

However, Michael believes the focus is too narrow and misses the opportunity to influence business strategy. Michael explained that value propositions should:

 

1. Drive, but not be equated with, your message. It should be an internal articulation, to be echoed by your message. It should not be your actual selling line or slogan.

 

2. Focus on the specific, measurable experiences customers will derive by doing business with you.

“Contrary to how things may seem, customers don’t really care about your product. They care about their lives or businesses; they care about what they may or may not get out of using your products or services,’” Michael said. “So what matters and what must be at the heart of a real value proposition is those customers’ resulting experiences that happen because they buy [or] use your stuff rather than some other option.”

 

3. Be reflected across and influence your entire business — not just your messaging, marketing and sales.

“It should be the fundamental choice, creatively discovered, then debated, articulated and agreed internally by leadership across your entire business,” Michael  said. “It should fundamentally determine the very business you are in, which customers you seek and what your business will do to improve their experiences in return for their business.”

Read more…

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