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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

Email marketing: If you’re not testing, you’re guessing

Recent research we conducted with YouGov found that 80% of consumers now spend on average between 5 – 30 seconds reading or looking at incoming marketing emails, so it’s clear that ‘distracted consumers’ have little time to spend on sifting through the many emails they receive. For time-poor consumers, the first glance at an email will often determine whether they raise their cursor to the “delete” or “click-to-enter” option, making a winning email all the more important.

The tiniest of changes to an email marketing programme can make a big difference and brands should always be thinking about how to adapt and stay competitive as consumer behaviour evolves and new technologies for marketers become available.

By following these four simple steps, brands can ensure their email marketing campaigns are optimised to maximise customer engagement.

1. Make small changes, witness a big difference

By testing individual aspects of the email message (e.g. subject line, pre-header, call to action), brands can understand how to make email content as interesting as possible according to their various customer demographics. For example, New Look might try sending customers emails including images of an individual dress, a model wearing this dress or perhaps style recommendations for items that would go well with the garment in order to see which form is most likely to encourage customers to click-through.

2. Push the branding boundaries

The visual impact of an email is very important to the consumer opening it and so brands should not be afraid to push the boundaries by varying colour formatting, hero image placement (the positioning of best-selling products within a given email) or even the tone and style of written text to reveal innovative ways to excite customers.

3. Never assume

Brands cannot predict how different audiences will respond to emails; while some customers prefer soft, educational messaging such as relevant product recommendations, others are engaged by sales-driven versions that encourage you to ‘shop now.’

Lenovo realised this when it embarked on an email testing programme, seeking to boost its unique click-to-open rates. By experimenting with various click-through and conversion influencers, such as a different subject line or image placement, the company identified creative ways to retain customers and generate business leads, increasing unique open rates by 30% after the initial testing campaign.

4. Accept the results

Testing is not about confirming your existing assumptions, but looking for new trends and consumer behaviours that will shape your email marketing campaigns. Are your customers looking at their emails on mobile devices? Do they prefer product recommendations and editorial content? Or are they more interested in sales and promotional information? These kinds of insights are vital in creating a campaign suited to your customers’ interests. Prepare yourself, you might not always get the results you’re hoping for, but there is no point doing the testing if you are not going to listen to the results.

A sophisticated email marketing campaign is all about understanding what engages your customers. Brands that make the most of the data available to them and explore the content that individuals are most responsive to are well-placed to understand customer behaviours and make recommendations based on their preferences. Remember, minor changes can make a big difference and if brands are not testing their existing email messaging, they risk seeing their marketing campaign crash and burn with a batch and blast approach, which will send customers into the arms of the competition.

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