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Email Marketing: Copy test increases clickthrough 37%

July 24th, 2014 3 comments

Converting attention into interest is really the sole purpose of copywriting.

How you approach that task in your marketing efforts can make a huge difference in the results.

In this MarketingExperiments Blog post, we’ll look at how some tactical copy changes increased one company’s clickthrough rate by 37% to help you craft effective copy of your own.

But first, here are a few snippets on the test.

 

Background: Company selling audio equipment and accessories.

Goal: To increase clickthrough rate.

Research Question: Which email copy approach will generate the highest clickthrough rate?

Test Design: A/B/C variable cluster split test

 

Controlemail-copy-test-control

 

In the control, the MECLABS research team hypothesized the email utilized a headline that was not immediately clear, thus undermining the value of the offer.

 

Treatments 

email-copy-test-treatments

 

Here is a simple breakdown of the differences in the treatments:

  • Treatment 1′s email tweaked the headline to focus on the aesthetics and performance value of the product.
  • Treatment 2′s headline was centered on the overall value proposition of the product.

Read more…

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Email Marketing: Change in CTA copy increases clickthrough 13%

March 24th, 2014 3 comments

The “ask.”

When you strip marketing down to its core, your call-to-action is arguably the most important element in your email marketing.

If you get it just right with your copy, customers will give their permission with clicks, downloads, a purchase or whatever desired action is intended.

Get the copy wrong, however, and a CTA is becomes “ignore-the-action” from the customer’s perspective.

So what role does copy play in the success of a CTA?

A pretty big one.

To illustrate this, let’s look at a recent Web clinic where the MECLABS research team revealed the results of an experiment that drilled down into how CTA copy impacts customer action.

Here’s a little research information on the test.

Background: An audio technology and engineering company offering professional and personal audio products.

Goal: To significantly increase the number of clicks from a promotional email.

Primary Research Question: Which email CTA copy will produce the greatest clickthrough rate?

Approach: A/B single factorial split test

 

Control

cta-test-control

 

In Version A, the team hypothesized that using “Shop Now” as the CTA copy was a potential source of customer anxiety.

According to the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic, anxiety is simply a negative factor that reduces the likelihood a potential customer will take a desired action.

 

Treatment

cta-test-treatment

 

In Version B, the team tested “View Details” as the CTA copy.

 

Results

 cta-test-results

  Read more…

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Email Marketing: 3 letters to drive subject line success

February 20th, 2014 No comments

It’s tried and true: Personalization works in marketing.

You know this already – approach your consumers as individuals and reap compelling results. However, tailoring campaigns can call for plenty of pain and patience along the way due to the journey of implementing new technology and complex techniques.

But the attendees in the General Session Room of the Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 learned that there’s a loophole to this. It’s possible (and realistic) to actually gain the benefit of personalization minus the heavy lifting.

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, kicked off Day 2 of  Summit with his session, “Interactive Quick-Win Clinic: 3 simple email tactics to achieve personalization without the need for complex technology.” He set out to shed light on how to achieve the highest possible yield with the least amount of energy.

Two points of focus in Flint’s session were how to achieve this via subject lines and headlines.

 

Subject lines

Of course, this process begins at the subject line. Plain and simple, you need your recipient to open  your email. Flint boiled the personalization of the subject line down to three letters: R (relevant), I (important) and U (urgent). When examining a subject line, he challenged the audience to ask themselves:

  • Is the email relevant?
  • Is the email important?
  • Is the email urgent?

Flint explained that although something may be considered both relevant and important, the item that is the most urgent gets opened. Thus, establishing urgency in your email is key.

 

Headlines

Flint likens the headline of an email to a pick-up line. The headline begins the conversation with your recipient and, not surprisingly, its wording is essential. Because a headline is part of a conversation, it doesn’t work when it’s not a sentence. In other words (no pun intended), don’t speak in bullet points. After all, would you do that in a real-life conversation?

“[Speaking in bullet points] would leave me playing by myself on the playground,” Flint joked.

He examined the wording of select headlines tested for a survey company. The findings illustrated that headlines with a “point-first” design garnered the highest performance. These were the headlines that focused on what the consumer “got” – they were value-centric. Read more…

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Email Marketing: What elements of your offer get people to click? [Subject line contest winner announced]

January 7th, 2014 2 comments

There are many reasons customers may value your product. But which one resonates with your customers the most?

Miller Lite famously spoofed this conundrum in its TV commercials, in which people would debate whether the beer was awesome because it tasted great or because it was less filling.

This is a serious challenge to you as a marketer. You’re likely not only marketing a product, but an associated offer of incentive as well. Should that incentive take precedence over the product itself? How do you choose?

 

Don’t bury the lead

Sure, you may drip elements of secondary importance throughout your campaign, but what should you lead with?

In email marketing, another way to think of this is: Which element should be included in your subject line?

Let’s look at a value testing experiment (that you might have been involved in creating) to help answer this question.

We recently launched a subject line writing contest here on the MarketingExperiments Blog using a product from our sister company, MarketingSherpa – Email Summit 2014 in Las Vegas. The point of this contest was to gather possible subject lines to test in a value testing experiment.

You can read the blog post that launched this contest to see the email body copy we tested. In the comments section of that post, you can also see all of the subject lines your peers wrote.

After receiving more than 300 potential subject lines from you (some people submitted multiples), our next challenge was to narrow them down to just five subject lines to split test. No easy task.

To guide our selection, we divvyed them up by the value and incentive categories featured in the email’s body copy:

  • Name of promotion (Early Bird)
  • Incentive ($300 discount)
  • Urgency (discount expiring soon)
  • Value of product (what you’ll get by attending Email Summit)
  • Location of event (Vegas baby, Vegas!)

Once all of the subject lines were organized by category, we gathered a team together to choose the top three or four subject lines that best expressed the value for each category, and then took those to a larger group in a peer review session to vote for the finalists. The lesson here is don’t test in a vacuum – collaborate.

Here are the subject lines written by the MarketingExperiments audience that the peer review session chose for each value or incentive element.

 

Name of promotion – Early Bird

[Email Summit 2014] Last Day of Early Bird Discount is… (written by Eugene Nilus)

Incentive – $300 discount

$300 Savings | Vegas | More ROI From Email In 2014 (written by Mike Schwenk)

Urgency – Discount expiring soon

Tick Tock – Email Summit 2014 discounted registration ends soon (written by Joy Avila)

Value of product – What you’ll get by attending Email Summit

Get the latest, proven strategies in email marketing – Email Summit 2014 (written by Chris Allsop)

Location – Vegas baby, Vegas!

What Happens In Vegas Shouldn’t Stay in Vegas – 2014 Email Summit – Bring it home! (written by Linda Jackson)

 

Challenge your paradigms

When testing, it also helps to see an outside perspective.

After all, insider ideas may help convert current customers, but if you want to bring new customers into the fold, you have to think like someone who knows little, if anything, about your product.

It can be difficult finding the right outside perspective when you know your product so intimately.

By this point, we had already involved 43 people within MECLABS along with 209 readers from the MarketingExperiments audience. But many of them likely have some familiarity with Email Summit already, or, at the very least, MECLABS and our focus on conversion optimization and A/B testing.

So we went a little further outside the box. We challenged the readers of Copyblogger to write their own subject lines for this email. Not only did this provide a new perspective to the subject lines; it also added a fun, competitive element – seeing which blog’s readers could write the most effective subject line.

To further remove bias, we had no say in which subject lines Sonia Simone, Robert Bruce and the team at Copyblogger would choose. However, since those same five elements of appeal were in the email copy that entrants were writing the subject lines for, they naturally appeared in these subject lines as well.

After Sonia sent her selections over, I assigned each subject line from the Copyblogger audience to one of the elements of value or incentive being tested.

 

Name of promotion – Early Bird

Early Birds, save $300 when you register for the Email Summit by January 9, 2014! (written by Faraz Maqsood)

Incentive – $300 discount

Last Chance to Save $300 on Email Summit 2014 (written by James Shirley)

Urgency – Discount expiring soon

(Open BEFORE Christmas) Email Summit 2014: discount ends Jan 9th (written by Ali Luke)

Value of product – What you’ll get by attending Email Summit

Your emails don’t work (We’ll tell you why) (written by Danielle Wallace)

Location – Vegas baby, Vegas!

What happens in Vegas…will improve your emails! Save $300 now. (written by Cheryl)

 

Results

The primary KPI for this test was clickthrough rate, measured as delivered-to-clicks. What we were trying to avoid was a subject line that got a lot of curiosity opens, but did not tie into the value of the email. For example, we received submissions referencing everything from naked women to checks from grandma.

Our goal with a subject line is to make it compelling, but also make sure it honestly represents the email someone will read if they open it.

We also included sheer open rate as a secondary KPI, acknowledging that the copy in the email itself is a large part of driving clicks, and the subject line writers had no control over that.

Drumroll, please.

And the winner is …

 

Urgency – Discount expiring soon

(Open BEFORE Christmas) Email Summit 2014: discount ends Jan 9th (by Ali)

This subject line had the highest unique clickthrough rate and highest open rate, as well. 

 

As you can see in the results, this subject line outperformed all but two subject lines with a level of confidence of 99%. This means that we can be very confident that this subject line will consistently perform differently than those underperforming subject lines if we used them in the future.

However, the winning subject line did not outperform two of the subject lines by our desired level of confidence of 95%, which means that we cannot be certain that there is a significant difference between the subject lines. There is a higher likelihood that sometimes, because of random chance, one of those subject lines might perform better.

If you look back at our hypothesis, an interesting aspect is that both of the top two performing subject lines relied on urgency. This new knowledge can help inform future tests.

While we, like all marketers, hope the value of our product by itself is enough to encourage an action, this experiment backs up the classic marketing notion of the important of urgency. As Brian Clark of Copyblogger said, “Give people a logical reason why they should buy now, and more people will.”

This experiment also shows the power of A/B testing. We also really liked, “$300 Savings | Vegas | More ROI From Email In 2014.” We had meetings and votes and chose that subject line as one of our five favorite overall.

However, had we not tested and just ran with it because it was popular, we would have ended up with a 67.25% lower clickthrough rate, as you can see in the results.

Perhaps it wasn’t the subject line as much as its focus on incentive. Incentive underperformed urgency. That may be because, logically, you have to show people the value of something before you give them an extra incentive to buy it. After all, $300 off something you don’t know or care about isn’t a very attractive incentive.

That was our take on the results. You can read Copyblogger’s take on the results to learn additional lessons for your subject line testing, as well.

Congratulations to Ali Luke, Writer, Aliventures, who wrote the subject line with the highest clickthrough rate (measured as delivered-to-clicks) and winner of a ticket to Email Summit plus a two-night stay at the Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas.

Ali also wrote the subject line with the highest open rate, and therefore won a MECLABS Email Messaging Online Course, as well.

Ali is editor of DailyBlogTips, and author of Publishing E-Books For Dummies (Wiley, 2012).

When I congratulated her on her winning subject line, she said, “I’m absolutely thrilled (and pretty stunned!) to have won the Copyblogger/MarketingExperiments competition. I’m no email marketing expert (I hope Email Summit will change that) – but clearly some good advice has sunk in during my years of reading Copyblogger. When coming up with my subject line, I thought about what I’d like to see in my inbox – a bit of humour with a clear, straightforward message.”

Read more…

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Email Marketing: 4 tips for testing subject lines to help you win the inbox battle

December 19th, 2013 No comments

“What’s in a name? Would a rose by any other name not smell as sweet?”
–William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet”

Translation: What really matters is what something is; not necessarily what it is called.

Unfortunately for email marketers, the same concept generally does not apply when the email recipient is assessing whether or not to open your email.

For email marketers, the opposite concept is generally the rule. The email subject line along with the sender’s name in the “from” field must do all the heavy lifting for recipients to even consider opening the email and see the offer or information communicated within.

 

The inbox war is often won or lost by sender names and subject lines

Since the performance of your entire email campaign can often hinge on the performance of your open rate – think about it, a visitor cannot click through or convert unless they first open the email, or you can’t necessarily at least track it – it is extremely important as an email marketer to do your best in crafting effective subject lines and using sender names adding the appeal and credibility in the message required to generate an open.

Remember that you are competing against dozens, if not hundreds, of messages a day for the recipients to potentially open.

How do you determine what sort of subject lines and sender names are most effective with your list of choice? Why, through testing of course.

In this blog post, I wanted to take the time to discuss a few strategies and methods our team has used in the past to boost open rates for our Research Partners and ensure accurate results.

Before we dive into subject lines, I wanted to offer you a few tips regarding sender names. Your sender name contributes not only to the credibility of your email, but can also heighten appeal.

  • Consider how easy it is to test the sender name or if changing the sender name could have an effect on your emails’ open rate. Is this something your email platform allows you to test easily?
  • Using a corporate sender name is generally beneficial if the recipient has experience with your company or products, or if it is a well-known brand.

 

Tip #1. Craft subject lines around themes that you can clearly categorize and differentiate between 

Since copy is subjective and interpreted differently by each recipient, you must ensure you are testing subject lines that fall into specific themes and make sense to you and your team.

It’s also important to have a hypothesis for each subject line that explains how that subject line may influence the open rate.

You can also write multiple treatment subject lines for each category as long they accurately fall under one of your themes.

Here’s an e-commerce example for testing themed subject lines:

  • Specific incentive – “Subscribers Receive 20% off their order this weekend only”
  • Curiosity – “Don’t miss an incredible deal for subscribers, this weekend only” –  this is non-specific, given a visitor has to open to understand the “incredible deal”

 

Tip #2. Determine the number of subject lines you can test based on your average open rate and list size 

Since this is email testing, I recommend you test fewer than the full number of suggested subject lines in order to increase your odds of achieving results that are statistically significant and reliable.

 

Tip #3. Test the same treatments of subject lines in multiple sends

In my experience when testing emails with our Research Partners, I have often seen subject line performance vary widely from send to send. So if you test the same treatments in a series of email drops, you can reduce the chances of encountering a false positive in your results.

Testing your treatments in multiple sends will also help ensure that other quality assurance factors, such as timing and list splits, are consistent.

Read more…

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Email Marketing: Subject line test increases clickthrough rate 18%

December 9th, 2013 No comments

Subject lines often have a hefty impact on the success of an email campaign. Yet, marketers rarely have the time for a deep-dive into the psychology of turning interruption into engagement.

In today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post we’re going to take a look at how Jonathan Hosier, Senior Marketing Specialist, MECLABS, used subject line testing to increase clickthrough 18%.

But first, let’s review the research notes for some background on the test.

Background: MarketingExperiments internal testing of Web clinic invitations.

Goal: To increase the open and clickthrough rates for a Web clinic invitation.

Primary Research Question: Which email subject line will generate the highest click rate?

Approach: A/B/C single-factorial split test

 

Control

 

When I asked Jonathan about the control, he explained the focus was on identifiers – namely the email’s primary topic and “from” field.

“In previous subject line tests, the control has performed well and enjoyed a healthy reign as a champ for quite some time,” Jonathan explained. “So, it was time put the champ to the test based on new insights from recent research.”

 

Version A

 

In Version A, Jonathan explained the idea was to test a previous assumption that more intriguing philosophical questions hold more appeal for the audience. This was based on previous subject line tests where intrigue has outperformed other subject lines.

 

Version B

 

For Version B, Jonathan decided to focus on appealing to an internal need marketers have to understand and overcome failure.

 

Results

 

Version B outperformed the control by a relative difference of 18.44% at a 99% level of statistical confidence. Version B also saw a 6% lift in open rates over the control at a 99% LOC as well.

Read more…

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