Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

Email Marketing: Five test ideas for personalizing your email campaigns

September 3rd, 2015 No comments

Personalization is not new to email marketing; but has it lost some of its appeal with marketers?

Only 36% of marketers said they dynamically personalize email content using first names in subject lines and geo-location, according to the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. The report also revealed that only 37% of marketers segment email campaigns based on behavior.

However, marketers from various industries have seen incredible success with personalization. I dove into the library of MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments’ sister company, to find out how marketers have used both tried-and-true personalization tactics and innovative, tech-savvy strategies to better engage their customers and email audience.

No tactic or strategy is foolproof, so we suggest using these campaign tactics as testing ideas to see what works with your audience when it comes to email personalization.


Idea #1. Turn your email into a personal note, not a promotional email

As Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, says, “People don’t buy from websites, people buy from people.”

The same applies to emails. As we saw in a recent MarketingExperiments’ Web clinic, “Personalized Messaging Tested: How little changes to an email send led to a 380% change in response rate,” when inviting your customers to take an action or attend an event, sending the email from a real person on your team can have a huge impact on the results of your campaign.

Several years ago, MarketingSherpa changed up its webinar invite template with the following changes:

  • Used a specific team member’s name in the “From” field
  • Addressed the recipient by their own name
  • Looked more like a letter by dropping the graphic design
  • Signed by a member of team, rather than the whole team


Just by changing the “From” field, the email saw a 137% lift in opens. Additionally, the clickthrough rate (CTR) increased by 129% by making the email look more like a personal note than a corporate chain email. However, take the CTR metric with a note of caution, as a possible selection effect could have impacted the results.

Learn more about the results of this change in the MarketingSherpa post, “Email Personalization: 137% increase in open rate from personal note approach.”


Idea #2. Implement personalized send times

Testing the best time of the day or day of the week for email sends has become common. However, it’s really just about finding the average best time.

The team had hoped to just increase the open rate of its emails as step one in their funnel, but the results proved more than they hoped. The campaign saw an 8% lift in email revenue overnight, and increased total email response by 17%. The team at BustedTees wanted to find the best time for each subscriber, not the list as a whole. By working closely with its email vendor, the Internet-based t-shirt brand analyzed subscribers’ open histories.

Learn more about efforts of the BustedTees’ team in the MarketingSherpa case study, “Email Marketing: BustedTees’ personalized send times increase email revenue 8%.”


Idea #3. Personalize subject lines

Personalized subject lines are nothing new. When was the last time you tested their effectiveness with your audience?

Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, recently talked with Shelley Kessler, Manager of Reporting and Analysis, Experian Marketing Services, about recent data released by Experian Marketing Services on personalized subject lines.


Only about 35% of brands in the study used personalized subject lines for promotional mailing. However, including a name in the subject line increased open rates by 29.3% across all industries, with consumer products and services seeing a 41.8% boost.

The team at AWeber wasn’t sure the tactic would work well in a B2B situation where the audience was other marketers. After all, its audience was probably well acquainted with the tactic.

However, the team moved forward with a series of subject line tests to know for sure how their customers would respond to their names being used in the subject lines.

The result? While the open rate averaged a 5.13% lift for the test series, the personalized subject lines saw a 17.36% increase in average clickthrough rate.

“Clicks actually blew opens out of the water,” Amanda Gagnon, Education Manager, AWeber, said. “It turned out that was where the personalization seemed to have the biggest effect.”

While you might not want to employ it with every send, it could be semi-regular tactic to rotate into your strategy if your audience responds positively.

Check out the case study for more information on how the team conducted their testing: “Email Marketing: 17.36% higher average clickthrough rate in 7 personalized subject line tests.”


Idea #4. Go big with personalized videos

If video integration is already part of your email strategy, it could be worth it to test how adding personalization to the videos affects your KPIs.

The marketing team at Zumba Fitness wanted a way to grab their email audience’s attention in a big way.

When launching its annual Instructor Convention, the team used footage from previous years to invite the recipient to attend.

While 90% of the list received the personalized video and email, 10% received a control version with no personalization.

Wayne Miller, Senior Manager of Email and Marketing Automation, Zumba Fitness, said the result “was pretty drastic.”

He added, “One of the big things was our click-to-open for the personalized video was over 50%. In terms of promotional messaging, that’s the best click-to-open rate we’ve ever had.”

Read more about the campaign’s test results in the case study, “Email Marketing: Zumba Fitness uses personalized video to drive a 50% click-to-open rate.”


Idea #5. Provide personalized content in purchase confirmation emails

Most purchase confirmations are just receipts. Nothing more, nothing less. They could serve as a great conversation point with your audience. According to a report from Experian Marketing Services, transactional emails have a 114% total open rate, indicating repeated opens.

How many of your promotional emails see that kind of open rate?

With so many customer eyes on this email, it could be a perfect spot to test incorporating personalized content based on purchases.

The Microsoft Store, for example, changed from a standard receipt to a product category segmented receipt.


Shawna Dahlin, Senior Email Marketing Manager, Microsoft Store, said her team analyzed what information could be most helpful for their customers after purchase. They included the following types of content into their revamped and personalized transactional emails:

  • Tips and tricks for device and product setup
  • Links to how-tos
  • Support content
  • Limited cross-sell

You can learn about Shawna and her team’s effort in a video replay of her MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 session, “How to Build a Relevant Customer Experience Using Data You Already Have.”


You can follow Selena Blue, Manager of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute on Twitter at @SelenaLBlue.


You might also like

Email Marketing: Unique send times for micro-personalization [Video] [From the MarketingSherpa blog]

Email Personalization: 750% higher CTR and more revenue for e-commerce site [From MarketingSherpa]

Personalized Messaging Tested: How little changes to an email send led to a 380% change in response rate

Ecommerce Chart: The most effective types of personalized product recommendations [From MarketingSherpa]

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Bet on Horses, Not Customer Assumptions: How the Kentucky Derby tested content for relevance with customers

July 23rd, 2015 1 comment

Assumptions can be a dangerous territory — especially when it comes to being relevant with your customers.

When a brand has a large gap between purchases, keeping customers engaged becomes a consistent concern.

The team at the Kentucky Derby faced that issue when they decided to use the weekly newsletter to identify and validate customer segments.

“When we look to grow a brand like the Kentucky Derby, that breadth of engagement is really core to our growth path,” Jeff Koleba, Vice President of Marketing and Programming, Kentucky Derby, said in this session from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015.

To solve this issue, Jeff and Kate Ellis, Marketing Analyst, Kentucky Derby, decided to begin segmenting and directing content directly towards the customers who wanted it most. Within its established customer personas, the Derby focused testing on three segments:

  • Social content interests
  • Equine enthusiasts
  • Betting/wagering information

Once they set up segmentation and supported it with relevant content, the team began optimizing for maximum engagement.

Read more…

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The Importance of Customer Centricity in Evolving A/B Testing

June 29th, 2015 2 comments

When we talk about A/B testing, we often think about it on a test-by-test basis. While this singular focus is beneficial, it overlooks testing’s role as an ongoing system for optimization.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Lauren Wagner, Senior Manager, and Tessa Srebro, Lead Generation and Marketing Associate, both of VolunteerMatch, to discuss how to utilize A/B testing to constantly evolve programs.

Lauren and Tessa’s company, VolunteerMatch, is a nonprofit organization that is the world’s largest volunteering network. It also has an interesting funding model. The company sells a Software as a Service (SaaS) product to companies to help fund its organization and, so far, this model has generated almost $1 billion in social value each year through its work with nonprofits and volunteers. VolunteerMatch is also more than familiar with the benefits of testing, as evidenced by the subject line test it ran with MarketingExperiments.

Watch the excerpt below from the MarketingSherpa Media Center to learn how keeping up with current trends and thinking like a consumer can help evolve your testing and your company.


Keep up with current trends and your customers

Keeping up with current customer trends is one of the most important pieces of advice Lauren Wagner gave when asked how to keep a company’s A/B testing constantly evolving. Be sure that you’re keeping up with current trends in the marketplace, but don’t forget to take the time to learn about your customers.

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Email Marketing: What assets should marketers be using to design better emails?

June 1st, 2015 No comments

Data is officially everywhere. It’s even infiltrating the design of emails — and for good reason.

“The more you know about your audience, obviously the better you can tailor an email design to someone,” Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, said.

Justine sat down with Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa (sister company of MarketingExperiments), at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, to discuss what tools marketers can access to better their email creatives.

When asked what is the biggest asset email marketers have when designing their next email, Justine answered data.

“Data can be a really powerful tool for helping a designer decide how to layout their campaigns,” she said.

Watch the whole interview here:


How can data make design better?

In the interview, Justine shared a few types of data that can benefit email designers:

  • What people have looked at in the past
  • What kind of email services people are opening up
  • What type of content has resonated with clients in the past

When asked how one of these could be applied to campaigns, Justine talked about technical compatibilities. For instance, GIFs don’t work properly in Outlook 2007. By using past data, you can know beforehand if a portion of your readers use that email service. If they do, and you use a GIF, then your email campaign won’t be as effective as it would have been if you had segmented that audience to use a more Outlook 2007 friendly design.

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Email Marketing: Improve subject lines in 7 steps by using the right words, in the right order

April 27th, 2015 1 comment

It can be easy to overlook the importance of a subject line when crafting an email. After all, it’s just one line. The email itself is where most of the magic happens. However, without an effective subject line, only the most motivated customers will open your email to see what’s inside.

In a recent MarketingExperiments Web clinic — “The Power of the Properly Sequenced Subject Line” — the team revealed how to improve email performance by using the right words, in the right order.

After analyzing many tests in the Research Library,  two key principles to finding success with subject lines were discovered:

  1. Many marketers worry about their ability to write persuasive copy, but the marketer’s art is not persuasion; it is clarity. Indeed, when the marketer represents an authentic value proposition, clarity is persuasion.
  2. We are not optimizing subject lines; we are optimizing thought sequences. The most effective subject lines emphasize the “get” and imply the “ask.”

From these principles and other discoveries the team has made about customer behavior, a checklist of seven questions was developed. These questions can then be used as seven steps to follow when crafting your email subject lines.


Feel free to share the checklist, and if you’d prefer something a little more printer-friendly, download the “Crafting Effective Subject Lines” PDF. The PDF also includes the two key principles for your reference.

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

April 16th, 2015 3 comments

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.

Read more…

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