Email Optimization: How to prioritize your A/B testing
Once marketers see the results that are possible with optimizing and testing email, their next question usually is … well, where do I begin? How can I prioritize the limited time and budget I have when I start testing? Here is a resource to help you prioritize your optimization efforts.
In the MarketingExperiments Email Messaging Online Course (note: it is a paid course), Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, teaches the Email Messaging Optimization Sequence:
ec = Email Capture (Channel factor)
op = Open Rate
ct = Clickthrough
lp = Landing Page (Presentation factor)
The symbols between the letters represent a chronological sequence, and the process of optimization should proceed in the reverse order of how customers engage with your email program. So while an email recipient starts at your email capture page, and, ideally, ends up on your landing page, you should begin by optimizing your landing page and move down the line.
- It is very costly to drive prospects into a conversion process that is sub-optimal. You should begin by ensuring that when someone arrives at your landing page, the probability of conversion is at its highest.
- Once you’ve done this, then you want to ensure that whoever receives and has opened your email message has the greatest probability of clicking through to your landing page. This is done by optimizing the content of your email messages.
- Once you’ve done this, then you want to ensure that whomever you have sent your email messages to has the greatest probability of opening that message and reading its content. This is done by optimizing the email envelope fields (i.e., From, To, Subject, etc.).
- Once you’ve done this, then you want to ensure that you are sending your messages to a list of prospects such that there is the greatest probability that they represent the ideal customer for your product or service.
The unoptimized email funnel
Let’s look at what would happen if you focused your optimization efforts in the reverse direction.
Imagine for a moment that you spend a great deal to obtain a customized, segment-specific list of some of the absolute best customer prospects for your flagship product.
You then send a stock email message from your “Sales” department to this list containing a generic link to your organization’s corporate homepage, which has not been optimized either to the product or to appeal to this particular group of people. What have you gained? What have you risked?
What have you gained?
- You may have gained a few sales – mainly from those prospects that, because they were among your ideal customer groups, had enough momentum stemming from strong motivation to survive the friction of your arduous conversion process.
What have you lost, or risked?
- By sending them to your homepage rather than to a customized landing page, you have lost all but the most motivated prospects who were willing to search your site to find the value you promised in your message.
- By failing to optimize your landing page – both in general, and for this specific customer persona – you have lost the immediate income from those prospects who would have converted if the value proposition was clear to them.
- By sending a stock email message, rather than one specifically designed to appeal to this ideal customer persona, you have lost all but those who were already familiar with your brand and who recognized the value that your company and its products might offer them.
- By failing to consider your message’s envelope fields, you will have lost the opportunity to engage many of your customer prospects, because they never opened your message.
- Perhaps worst: There will have been customer prospects of the very highest-value who ultimately made it to your website, yet found upon their arrival that you failed to deliver on whatever promise caused them to make it that far. So, the next time they receive a message from you (or even see your brand in a set of search results), they will already have written you off – you will not get a second chance, and you have lost them forever.