One of the great aspects of email marketing is that it presents infinite opportunities for optimization. Subject lines, pre-headers, formatting, and even button color can all be tested to improve the performance of your messages over time.
To help you get started with your own optimizations, we’ve collected some of favorite tests below as examples.
One word of caution: It’s important to know that your subscribers are unique to your company, so we cannot guarantee you will see the same results we did.
In fact many of these tests will have different results across the regions and segments of your audience. But as you read on, try to think of what you should be testing to boost the opens, clicks, and purchases coming from your emails.
Optimizing Trial Campaigns
The trial program for your digital product is often one of the first steps toward acquiring new customers, and email marketing is effective at helping your customers uncover the value you bring to them.
When prospects sign up for a trial, they’ll expect a welcome email, so begin by sending triggered emails to your new trial signups. These emails typically have higher open rates compared to other emails throughout the trial progam.
Because readers are more receptive to your emails, this high open rate lets you focus on optimizing the content within.
Testing Email Body Content
The test: including a price and product comparison chart in trial emails.
|Body Content||Click-to-Open Rate|
|Constant||Price comparison chart & additional resources||9.5%|
|Test||No price comparison chart & additional resources||14.3%|
What we learned: When we removed the price comparison chart, our click-to-open rate improved significantly. We learned it’s crucial to not overwhelm your customers with information. The goal should be to educate them with clear instructions.
Bonus tip: We recommend one call-to-action (CTA) per email. If you want subscribers to install or activate your program, tell them how. If you want them to purchase, explain the benefits and include a clear CTA.
Testing Email Sending Cadence
Email marketing success isn’t just about what you’re sending. It’s also about when you’re sending.
The test: change the email cadences in a trial campaign.
|Cadence Change||Click-to-Open Rate|
|Constant||Email sent 2 days before trial expiration||8.5%|
|Test||Email sent 1 day before trial expiration||10%|
What we learned: Sending a reminder email one day before trial expiration had a larger impact on subscribers’ actions. Not only did engagement increase, but revenue also increased. Leaving a two-day gap between the reminder and expiration gave subscribers more time to forget about purchasing.
Bonus tip: Try sending one last email once the trial expires to survey subscriber experience. Gathering data will help you improve the next round of optimizations.
Optimizing Renewal Emails
At the other end of the customer lifecycle is retention. As more and more software is sold as a monthly or annual subscription, retention is key for lowering churn, and increasing recurring revenue and customer lifetime value.
By nature, renewal emails are transactional. These customers usually know exactly what product they have and if they’d like to renew.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Testing Product vs Company Name
The test: using the product name versus the company name.
|Subject Line||Open Rate|
|Constant||Oh no! Your [dynamic product name] has expired”||23%|
|Test||“Your [static company name] subscription has expired”||26%|
What we learned: The more simplistic subject line, without dynamic content and quirky tone, outperformed the constant. Approaching subscribers with no-nonsense subject lines gives them the information they need to open and read on without distractions.
Testing Renewal Email Body Copy
The test: longer and wordier sentences versus direct renewal instructions.
|Body Copy||Click Rate|
|Constant||Lengthy sentences, wordy||8%|
|Test||Shorter, direct sentences, clear instructions to renew||10%|
What we learned: Once your subscribers open, don’t overwhelm them with content. For transactional messaging, be clear about why you’re contacting them and give direct instructions on how to proceed.
Testing Preheader Glyphs
The test: using a glyph (emoticon) in a preheader.
|Preheader Glyph||Open Rate|
|Constant||Glyph in pre-header||24%|
What we learned: Remove the playful text and icons from your pre-header in renewal emails. We’ve learned that subject lines and preheaders should be straightforward.
Optimizing Promotional Emails
Promotional emails can take many different forms. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about emails that motivate subscribers to buy based primarily on the value of a discount offered. Here are two examples of our tests to give you ideas for optimizing your promotions.
Testing Deadline Text
The test: determine if including a specific deadline would increase the sense of urgency and improve click-to-open rates. This test was run on a promotional email with an offer expiring a week after the email was sent.
|Deadline Text||Click-to-Open Rate|
*Offer valid until (DATE)
What we learned: Interestingly, results show that that including a specific deadline doesn’t increase a sense of urgency or improve click-to-open rates. Rather, hard deadlines might tell subscribers that it’s okay to wait because this offer continues for a little bit longer., It is better to leave subscribers guessing how much time is left on the promotion and encourage them to purchase immediately.
Testing Send Time
|Send Time||Open Rate|
|Constant||Evening – Starting at 7:30 PM||28%|
|Test||Morning – Starting at 9:00 AM||23%|
What we learned: Results showed that subscribers who received the message in the evening were more engaged and more likely to act in the email.
Ultimately, the choices you make in your email marketing engages your customers or doesn’t. Conducting tests and analyzing results gives your businesses the ability to make sure that your audience is truly engaged and taking the right actions that lead to more revenue.