NTEN Webinar Roundup: Stepping Up Your E-mail Marketing, Part 4
2. Target, segment and test
Targeting ensures that your e-mails go to the right list. Targeting should be based on data (e.g., demographics, dollars). For example, if you're organizing an event, make sure your e-mail goes to people who can actually attend.
Testing is the bread and butter of evaluation. Break up e-mail factors into test groups and send e-mails to small, but significant segments. The presenters recommended testing as much as you can, but not over testing.
Come up with four subject lines and send an e-mail with each to four different segments of your list, and see which performs the best. Miller and Leichtman suggested throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.
Thing you can test are:
- Sender name. Edward or Eddie?
- Subject line
- Content length. Maybe you need extra length to explain what you're doing at your organization, or maybe your readers just want something short and quick that they can just take action on. Test this.
- Images. They might compel people to take action because they explain what's going on. Or they might not help at all or, worse yet, hurt.
- Image color. A big, red donation button might work well, or maybe not. Maybe a blue donate button works better. Or green.
- Placement of images and links. Which performs better, links within a paragraph or on their own?
- URL vs. text links. Do you show the exposed URL or a hypertext "click here" link. Leichtman said he's seen varying success with each.
- Formatting options. Should you use a template? HTML e-mail vs. plain text or both?
- Phrasing. Should your ask be aggressive, e.g., "Make a donation now," or a milder ask, e.g., "Will you chip in"?
3. Evaluating for success
When evaluating your e-mail program's success, the presenters advised using real, statistical significance and comparing and retesting. And if you're not sure, test again.
But they warned not to overevaluate your program. If you already know something works, don't test it. Test in a limited sense and only if you know that you stand to benefit from it. Keep your eyes on the prize, they said.
"Don't test all of this at once. Only test one thing at once so you know if it's statistically significant," Leichtman said.
Landing page optimization is important to do as well, as getting people to take action is very dependent on what your Web page looks like. Test your landing page format, e.g., a one-column format vs. a two-column format, and video vs. no video.
Also consider how recent and how active your list members are (and the correlation between the two). People tend to be more likely to donate if they took action more recently.
And at the end of the day, if you don't have time to do a/b testing and can't do feedback in real-time, the presenters advised cutting your list in half and sending one e-mail to one group and another to the other. You can always do an ex post facto look back in your data and make an experiment out of it later on.