Tag Archives: email testing

How Sermo increased the opt-in rate for a rented list by 197%

Are rented lists effective? What can I expect for a conversion rate on one? Are my emails even getting read when I rent a list?

These are all good questions, and the answer is…

It depends.

The best we can do is look at what other people have done and try to apply similar principles to our rented email list campaigns.

With that in mind, here’s one campaign run by a company called Sermo. Sermo is a physicians-only social network that charges pharmaceutical companies for access to their audience.

It begins with a rented list from Fierce Pharma.

Sermo wanted to use some survey data that they had gathered from their audience as an opt-in offer for an audience of pharmaceutical companies.

Serma pic 1

Once the audience clicked on the download button, a pop up showed that asked for email and information.

Sermo ran several tests with single article emails, and the results came up inconclusive over and over again.

What they found, however, when they looked closely at the metrics of those tests is that each campaign’s conversion rate varied widely.

Serma pic 2

That told the team that the main thing affecting the conversion rate on these emails was the content itself.

The team hypothesized that if they created a send with different content options in the same email, the opt-in rate might improve significantly. So they created a treatment email and tested it.Serma pic 3


They found a significant increase in opt-in rates for people who clicked twice on the email (their most qualified prospects).

Serma pic 4

By examining the data in their rented list campaigns and creating an informed hypothesis, the team at Sermo was able to increase email capture rate by 197% on their most qualified prospects.

Here’s the full case study for you to use in your own presentations…

You might also like:
Download the free Quick Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization
Are Letter-Style Emails Still Effective?
Email Messaging Test: 104% increase in conversion from rented list
Email Conversion and Lifecycle Messaging: How Marriott Rewards generated 86% more email-driven revenue

Email Marketing: 7 (more) testing opportunities to generate big wins on your next email test [Part 2]

Does your email audience prefer short or long emails? How about images versus GIFs?

If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, it’s OK. All you need is an A/B email test. 

Testing allows us to better understand our customers, and determine ways we can better engage them.

Last week, we detailed nine experiment ideas for you to try on your next campaign. If those weren’t your style, we have seven more for you — for a total of 16 testing opportunities.

Today, we’ll be reviewing opportunities in your body messaging, calls-to-action and design.

Email Body Messaging Testing

Testing Opportunity #10. Messaging tone

In this test, from the Web clinic, “Email Copywriting Clinic: Live, on-the-spot analysis of how to improve real-world email campaigns,” researchers used two treatments to increase total lead inquiries from visitors who abandoned the free trial sign-up process.

The first treatment was designed based on the hypothesis that visitors did not convert because the copy didn’t engage them enough, so it took a direct response tone. The second treatment was based on the hypothesis that visitors experience high levels of anxiety over potential high-pressure salespeople or spam phone calls. This treatment took a more “customer service”-oriented tone.

By serving the needs of prospects, Treatment #2 increased the lead inquiry rate by 349%. When emailing those abandoning your trials or purchase process, they could be dropping off for particular reason that a simple email could address. By testing different tones and messaging, you can reduce their anxiety and close the deal.


Testing Opportunity #11. Email length

When testing the length of your emails, particularly ones linking to pages where conversion happens, keep this in mind: The goal of an email is a click — the goal of the landing page is a sale. 

If you give all your value and information away in the email, where is the incentive for readers to click? This can even apply to newsletters.

The team at our sister research company, MarketingSherpa, ran a test on its Best of the Week newsletter at the end of last year. The newsletter features the three most shared articles and blog posts from the previous week. Each post had a summary, previewing what readers would find. However, we wondered if the added length caused friction, causing readers to only click on the one or two posts they could see above the fold.

The treatment eliminated the summary, allowing all three posts to be seen quickly when opening the email.

The result? Both total and unique clickthrough went up. When we ran the test, I fully expected total clickthrough to increase. However, the 24% increase in unique clickthrough was a great bonus.


Call-to-action Testing

Testing Opportunity #12. The right CTA ask

The objective of an email is get the click; let your landing page do the selling.

You want to ensure you’re asking only for the next step in the path to conversion.

Here are a few alternatives to test:

·        “Learn more,” not “Buy now”

·        “Browse [product],” not “Shop now”

·        “See event agenda,” not “Purchase ticket”

·        “Explore plans,” not “Subscribe now”

·        “Get pricing,” not “Buy online”

Using your email CTA to ask for a macro-yes could turn off subscribers. While they might not be ready to “shop now,” they could be willing to “browse the latest collection.”


Testing Opportunity #13. A single ask

Some marketers like to add a number of calls-to-actions throughout their emails. At MECLABS, we refer to this as “conflated objectives.” You throw out as many options for them, hoping they like at least one enough to click.

However, when you start asking for too many things, customers get confused and don’t know what they should be doing. By deciding on a single goal for your email, subscribers know exactly what’s being asked of them.

If you have multiple calls-to-action in your email, try dialing it back to the one main CTA you want them to take.

If you absolutely need more than one call-to-action, use some sort of design to clearly show what the main action you want them to take is. If you have the options of downloading a trial and getting a quote, you have to decide which one is the objective of the email. From there, you can use a button to highlight the main CTA and just use a simple hyperlink for the secondary CTA.

Design Testing

Testing Opportunity #14. Responsive email design

Some might assume that responsive design will hands down beat non-responsive every time. However, best practices don’t work for everyone.

While CareerBuilder saw a 24% increase in CTR with its responsive design, a test on MECLABS Institute’s managing director and CEO Flint McGlaughlin’s email newsletter, FlintsNotes, ended with interesting results. While total clickthrough decreased with the responsive design, unique clickthrough resulted in no significant difference. Additionally, the responsive design saw a higher read rate.

How will your audience respond? You’ll only know by testing.


Testing Opportunity #15. Letter-style design versus promotional-style design

Designing emails can be fun — from finding the right graphics or images, to choosing different layouts. However, does your audience want those design extras? Or do they just get in their way?

A MECLABS Institute Research Partner tested a typical promotional-styled email against a simpler letter-styled email to see which design resulted in more engagement.

The letter-style design generated a 181% increase in conversion over the standard, promotional-style email.

Testing Opportunity #16. Imagery and graphics

Once you know your audience more actively engages with emails that use graphics or imagery, the next step is the find the most effective imagery or graphics.

For example, if you sell software, does your audience respond better to an image of someone using a computer or of detailed screenshots of your product in action?

Or is a static image best at all?

When Dell set out to market a new laptop that could convert into a tablet, an image just didn’t seem to do the transformation justice. The Dell team came up with the idea of utilizing a GIF to illustrate the morphing computer.

“I think [GIFs] are a good way for people to communicate what their main story is very quickly,” said David Sierk, Email Strategy and Analytics, Dell. “People are visual learners.”

When compared to quarterly benchmarks, Dell’s first GIF-centric email resulted in these lifts:

·        6% increase in open rate

·        42% increase in clickthrough rate

·        103% increase in conversion rate

·        109% increase in revenue

And the list could go on

The list could go on for a good long while, but hopefully these 16 opportunities can get your started. And that’s the important part: getting started. You don’t have to start big, and you don’t have to completely redesign every aspect of your email in one go. You can design a series of experiments to slowly build your customer theory and knowledge.

I’d also love to know what email tests have worked well and provided you with insight about your audiences. Leave your testing ideas in the comments below. And if you find success with any of these testing opportunities, let us know at editor@marketingexperiments.com.

You might also like

MECLABS Email Messaging Online Course [From MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments]

Email Marketing: Template test drives double-digit increases for Dell [MarketingSherpa case study]

Marketing Research Chart: How do customers want to communicate? [MarketingSherpa chart]

Tips for Incorporating GIFs in Email [From MarketingSherpa Blog]

Email Marketing: 9 testing opportunities to generate big wins on your next email test [Part 1]

Email is a great medium for testing. It’s low cost, and typically requires less resources than website testing. It’s also near the beginning of your funnel, where you can impact a large portion of your customer base.

Sometimes it can be hard to think of new testing strategies, so we’ve pulled from 20 years of research and testing to provide you with a launching pad of ideas to help create your next test.

In this post and next Monday’s, we’re going to review 16 testing opportunities you can test around seven email campaign elements.

To start you out, let’s look at nine opportunities that don’t even require you to change the copy in your next email.


Subject Line Testing

Testing Opportunity #1. The sequence of your message

Recipients of your email might give your subject line just a few words to draw them in, so the order of your message plays an important role.

In the MarketingExperiments Web clinic “The Power of the Properly Sequenced Subject Line: Improve email performance by using the right words, in the right order,” the team reviewed several tests that demonstrate the importance of thought sequence in your subject lines.

Try testing point-first messaging. Start with what the recipient will get from your message and the email.

By reordering the thought sequence — plus adding a few more tangible of details — the below subject line test saw a 10% relative increase in opens and the clickthrough rate increased by 15%.


Testing Opportunities #2 and #3. Internal issues and external events to build relevance

In the Web clinic, “Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an email,” the team identified two ways to immediately connect with subscribers through the subject line: an internal issue or an external issue.

First, let’s look at an example of internal issues.

From This — Subject Line: [Company Name]: A New Way to Order

To This — Subject Line: [Company Name]: Now only 2-meal minimum order

The first subject line is vague and doesn’t clearly connect to why the subscriber should care. The second subject line connects to an issue that some of customers might have internally felt in the past. This built relevance to their wants and needs, enticed them to open the email and resulted in a 25.3% lift.

However, the greater impact is seen in clickthrough. Because the subject line clearly communicated a new solution to a known internal problem, subscribers opened the email with more interest and motivation, resulting in a 196% increase in clicks.

Check out this list of potential internal issues you can explore in your subject line testing:

  • Limited resources (time, money and help)
  • Unmet expectations (work and family)
  • Deficient skillsets (inability or inadequacy)
  • Operational difficulties (routine usability)
  • Fragmented perspectives (ignorance or misunderstanding)

Next, let’s review an external event subject line test.

From This — Subject Line: It’s easy to access your [Bank Name] Accounts Online. Sign On Now

To This — Subject Line: [Name], Your Account Information Is Ready To View

The first subject line is a general statement. It’s easy to access. Okay. You want me to sign on. Okay. But why? Why should I sign on now? It hasn’t connected an event with why I should take that step.

However, the second subject line states my information is now ready to view. Something has occurred. It gives me a reason to sign on. By providing a reason to sign on, it increased opens by 92.2% over the first subject line.

Here are a few other types of external events to consider when trying to build relevance:

  • An action or behavior
  • A conversation
  • A single exchange (completed or abandoned)
  • A cancellation (membership, contract or recurring transactions)
  • A service interaction


Preheader Copy Testing

Testing Opportunity #4. Value copy in preheader

One area of the email is often overlooked is the preheader text. However, many inboxes, both mobile and desktop, allow subscribers to see these extra 35 or so characters before opening your email. And what message are you sending with the text, “If you have trouble displaying this email, view it as a webpage”? Should I often expect problems with your email? Should I bother opening it if I do?

This space is an opportunity to add more value to your email and entice subscribers to open.

According to Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, at a past MarketingSherpa Email Summit, you want the preheader copy to “tie into the subject line, bringing [readers] in and encouraging the click.”

Justine provided a few good examples she has come across.


“From” Field Testing

Testing Opportunity #5. Company versus person’s name

If you’ve been a long-time reader of MarketingExperiments, you’ve probably heard us say, “People don’t buy from companies; people buy from people.” This would could be a great test for your next email send. If your emails normally come from your company name, you might try humanizing your email by using the name of a prominent figure in your organization.


Testing Opportunity #6. Executive versus customer-involved employee

Once you determine that sending emails from a person works better, it could be worth a test to find the right person. While subscribers might recognize your CEO, they also know the chances of the CEO being directly involved in the email are slim. A lower-level employee with a title that connects to what your email is about could be found more favorable by subscribers because they might see that person as more real and involved. The email won’t feel faked.


Email Send Time Testing

In the Web clinic, “When Should You Send An Email? How one of the largest banks in the world discovered when to send its emails,” the MECLABS team revealed research about email send time based on multiple experiments in the MECLABS research library. The clinic detailed three testing opportunities around email send time.


Testing Opportunity #7. The time of day

Timing can greatly impact not only if your emails are opened, but the engagement level you achieve beyond the open.

Early morning sends could get subscribers to open on their commutes, but will they take action on a mobile device? Or would an afternoon send get lost in a crowded inbox?

A large financial institution wanted to increase the number of completed applications it received from an email. To do so, it tested two times of day: 3 a.m. versus 3 p.m. The 3 p.m. send time saw a 13.5% increase in clickthrough.


Testing Opportunity #8. The day of the week

The above time of day experiment also tested all seven days of the week. While Tuesday has often been cited as a good day to send emails, it performed the lowest. The best performing day: Sunday, with a 23.2% lift in clickthrough rate over Tuesday.

Remember, there is not a magical best day or time. Test and let your audience tell you which day (and time) works best for them. Even when testing the same group of people, different products or services could change the day or time the group is likely to respond. What works for B2C might not work for B2B. And what works for grocery stores might not work for media streaming brands.


Testing Opportunity #9. Frequency

The clinic identified a third opportunity in the email timing area: frequency. A large ecommerce company wanted to find the optimal send frequency for a portion of its list. For the company, this meant the frequency that would generate the most revenue without increasing the unsubscribe rate.

The team segmented the group into seven email frequencies:

  • 21 days
  • 14 days
  • 10 days
  • 7 days
  • 5 days
  • 3 days
  • 2 days

The team determined that when sending the email at the rate of once a week, the company would miss three times the amount of revenue it could be making if sending every other day without negatively affecting unsubscribes or the open rate.

That’s a huge potential lift in projected monthly revenue, and definitely worth a test for your list.


Stay tuned

Check back on Monday for the second portion of our email testing opportunities compilation, when we review experiment ideas around your design, body copy and calls-to-action.


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


 You may also like

Email Marketing Chart: How send frequency impacts read rate [MarketingSherpa Chart]

Collaborative A/B Testing: Consumer Reports increases revenue per donation 32% [MarketingSherpa Case Study]

Email Marketing: Preheader testing generates 30% higher newsletter open rate for trade journal