"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." — Lewis Carroll
If you run a quick search on the internet about marketing tips for your email campaigns or any other type of marketing campaign, I am sure that what you will find the most are articles with numbered lists of marketing tactics.
I have nothing against learning tactics, but it seems that marketing nowadays values them too much. There is no coherence and no goals to pursue. It makes marketing look like an activity where we throw everything on the wall to see what sticks.
In a certain way, we do a lot of throwing because, as Claude Hopkins said in his book – Scientific Advertising – we don't have a way to know the average of everybody's behavior, so we need to do small tests. When they work, we can scale it to millions of people.
Here lies the difference between learning a few tactics, hoping that they work for your business, and having a strategy.
A strategy will impose boundaries on what type of tests you will learn because when you set a goal, you may not know the right road, but you will narrow down your options.
Now, let's talk about how you can test your email marketing strategy so you don't stay lost and start testing random tactics hoping to find something that will save you one day.
This will make you know more about your customers and what type of message you send them as well.
Know the numbers of your industry
An excellent place to start is by learning the benchmarks of your industry. What the email marketing looks like for SaaS, ecommerce, or whatever your industry may be. Why?
It won't be perfect, but at least you will know what you should expect from your email campaigns if you need a drastic change or just minor tweaks.
The guys from Smart Insights made a great compilation with the benchmarks from 2022, I encourage you to go there for more details.
Metrics like open rate, click rate, unsubscribe rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate from your industry are fundamental for comparing how you are doing now. In addition, they will tell you where you need to improve.
Let's say your conversion rate is below the industry average; there are several things you can test, like your body copy, the offer you are making, your CTA, etc.
I hope you start seeing this approach's advantages instead of testing random tactics from an article.
Make a plan with what you want to test in your email marketing for the subsequent campaigns
Now that you know where you need to improve, compared with the numbers you saw on the benchmarks, you can start planning what you want to test.
If your problem is with open rates, that's a no-brainer; you can test it on every email you send. But let's say you are having trouble making people convert and buy from you; it's better to schedule these tests for the emails where you have an offer to present to them.
But remember… you should prioritize your weakest metrics.
Another reminder. When you are testing – A/B testing – test for one variable at a time, so you can be sure that the changes you are making are improving your emails or not.
Because one test wouldn't give you the certainty that the changes you have improved your email, make sure you run tests for several campaigns. I will have to be honest with you; I don't know how many emails would be the exact number, so here is where your guts will have to guide you, but at least stick with it for 5 or 6 emails to have some degree of certainty.
Hey, marketing is not always about hard numbers; art, creativity, and gut feeling are part of it as well.
A few tips for testing your emails
When improving your open rates, try to A/B test the subject lines or the time you send your emails. Maybe you have a good subject line, but the time you are sending them may not be the best for your customer base.
If you are trying to improve your conversion rate, you can test the email body, images (size, color, position on screen), offer, and CTA.
For those on ecommerce, it is natural to test what type of products sell more over email. When you find the type that usually sells more, don't be afraid to put more of that type and less of the others.
If your metrics are equal to or above the benchmark's average, you can start testing your sending frequency. Some marketers send emails every day, and when they don't, a crazy amount of money is left on the table. Maybe you are destined to be one of those marketers, but if you are not, keep paying attention to your metrics – if they start dropping as soon as you increase the frequency of your emails, it is time to scale back and adjust.
It goes without saying that you shouldn't change all of these things at once, you will need to do it once at a time, so you will know what change you made provoked the improvement.
Final Thoughts about testing your email strategy
Nowadays, we can measure almost everything, and the bright side of that is:
We can have a better idea about what is happening with our marketing efforts. But don't get so caught out in numbers. Instead, use the benchmarks in your favor when you start; they will guide you at first.
Even when you let those metrics guide you, be creative with your testing, or use other email campaigns as benchmarks, refine what is already getting results, but never stop tweaking and making your emails better.
If you had no idea how to get started, this article was a pretty good starting point.