E-mail Marketing’s Top Tactic

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One of the most common questions I get asked about email marketing is “What are the industry average open and click-through rates?”
If you ask ten industry experts you are likely to get ten different answers.
What’s the right answer?
“It depends.”
That’s also the right answer for many other email-related questions like:
* What’s the best day and time to send email?
* What’s the best type of offer to send?
* How often should I send email?
The specific answers to these questions will vary depending on your industry, who your best customers are, what your marketing objectives are and many other variables.
So how do you get the answers to your questions?


Let’s introduce the most important tactic with email marketing – *testing.*
Surprisingly, less than half of companies using email as a marketing tool actually do _any_ testing. And less than half of _those_ companies actually have a testing plan in place. According to “JupiterResearch”:http://www.jupiterresearch.com their 2005 study found that marketers using testing achieved a 68% improvement in return versus those that didn’t test. That’s as good an argument for testing as I have heard.
There are so many factors you can test, all having an impact on the performance of your email campaigns and your return on investment.
* Deliverability – testing what will get you more emails delivered to the inbox and not flagged as spam
* Subject Line – a good subject line is often key to having your email opened
* Creative – creative isn’t typically a major factor but make sure people know it’s your company and that emails are not just another web page
* Content – what do people want from you and what will they respond to (information, offers, tips)
* Personalization – personalized messages mean you know who the recipient is; personalize the content, too
* Segmentation & Targeting – this is a key; avoid one-size-fits-all
* Offer – when sending an offer what will people respond to and what will drive the best ROI
* Dynamic Content – often the best way to optimize email programs
* Day of Week/Time of Day – what is best for your emails; are your recipients B2C or B2B
* Frequency – do you need a monthly or quarterly newsletter; how about weekly alerts or ad hoc messages when there is relevant info or offers
* Landing Pages – where do recipients go after they click on your email; test what works best
What’s the right way to test?
Again, it will depend on what your objectives are. To get more messages opened and links clicked start by testing Subject Lines, Day and Time, Content and Offers. To drive better conversion and ROI test Segmentation & Targeting, Offers and Dynamic Content.
The key is to make testing a part of your email strategy. Use A/B split testing with a control group. Use multi-variable testing to evaluate many variables at one time. Every deployment should have some sort of test built in, whether it’s a new test or re-testing to validate previous results. *Just make sure you test.*

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