Jamie: Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s presentation, “Taking Out the Guesswork: Emma’s Top Email Testing Tips.” We are so excited to be here with you today. Just a little housekeeping before we get started, as you get settled in here, we, of course, will send the recording. So, if you’re on right now, or you registered, or your buddy registered, we send the recording out every single time for all of this. So, you will definitely get it. So if you need a hop off, don’t worry.
Also, we will have a Q&A at the end of today’s presentation. So, you’re muted, can’t hear you, you can scream as loud as you want. But we will be taking questions that you type directly into the GoToWebinar chat modal. So type those questions there. Also, if you submitted a question at registration, we have those as well. So we’ll be trying to do a mix of both as much as we can fit in there. And also you can follow along on Twitter, @emmaemail is our handle. So, you know, you can ask us questions there. We’ll check it periodically and make sure that your voice is heard.
All right, so we are gonna get rolling here. So I’m Jamie Bradley. I’m a content marketing strategist here at Emma and I’ve been talking about email for a while now. I’ve worked here a little over eight years, which is a long time. And in that time, the landscape has shifted and evolved with email marketing. It’s been really exciting. You know, now consumers are on the go, they’re mobile, they’re looking for messaging that matches their behavior and their life cycle.
And as a result, sometimes, you know, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as marketers by all the potential variables for your brand and for these audiences. But there have been some constants and, really, the biggest one is that email is still a big deal. It’s not dead, it’s far from it and it gets really big results if you do it right. So the ROI for email can be as high as 3800% and that comes to us from the Direct Marketing Association.
And really what that means is that the average return on investment for email marketing is somewhere around $38 to $40 for every dollar spent, which isn’t too shabby and the best part is that that has consistently been the case. You know, it swings up or down and there are, again, some variables depending on your industry, what you’re sending, when you’re sending, all that good stuff. But by and large, email is kind of the quarterback of a lot of people’s email marketing tactics.
Email, also, compared to other channels, performs really, really well. So email is almost 40% better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t live in a vacuum, though. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t, you know, have a Facebook strategy, a Twitter strategy, they should all work together, but email truly can be that workhorse because these audiences are…some of you are most valuable and some of you are most engaged in that marketing mix.
But not all email is created equal. It has to be relevant and if it’s relevant, you’re gonna see better results. So relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than just those broadcast emails. And what we mean by that, and we will dig into it quite a bit today, is that it’s email that really speaks to the individual and gets as close as it can to replicating a one-to-one interaction, and not just this one-size-fits-all approach. So of course, we’re going to focus on that today.
But really, what we’re here to talk about is testing, so why are we doing that? You know, making assumptions about your audience, and what matters to them is risky, and often, it leads to poor results. So don’t make assumptions about your audience if you don’t have to. What does that mean? It means take the guesswork out with testing, let the data do the talking and send more relevant messages than ever before.
But you’re probably sitting there, “Okay, get on with it. What do we test? With email, there are actually tons of things that you can test. There are tons of levers that you can pull and now automation and segmentation truly are accessible to every marketer or they should be, if not, let us know. It’s really that’s regardless of budget or skill level. They’re out-of-the-box solutions, Emma included, that allow you to do some really, really sophisticated things no matter where you are in that spectrum as a brand. But again, it can feel overwhelming regardless of if you have 3 customers or 30 million, and we’re all really busy. There’s a whole world of testing and tons of levers you can pull to incrementally learn more about your audience than ever before.
So what does that look like? Well, you probably saw on that first slide that I have a guest with me today. And on that first slide, you also saw the guest was Elizabeth Duffey, and I regret to inform me that that is a lie today, not on purpose. I’m not trying to soothe you.
Emma: You regret it, Jamie.
Jamie: I do. I don’t.
Emma: Take it back.
Jamie: I’m honored.
Emma: Thank you.
Jamie: Joining me today is actually Emma Matthews, no relation to the Emma of Emma Email Marketing, but Emma is our director of Professional Services, which means she leads the team that Elizabeth Duffey is on. Elizabeth is sick today and under the…
Emma: The norovirus is for real, y’all.
Jamie: It is for real. Do not mess with it.
Emma: They are not joking around.
Jamie: And she, speaking of workhorses, I don’t think she’s ever missed a day.
Emma: She has not.
Emma: She has been powering through it. Absolutely, amazing.
Jamie: But she’s not with us today. We’re like take it off out of here. So Emma is gonna lead the charge and again, she leads the team of our services professionals that implement the email strategy for hundreds of our savviest clients. And so, you know, when we talk about Elizabeth and why she was involved in the beginning is because she specifically works one-on-one with a lot of the clients that you’re going to see today. And so, we’re gonna highlight a lot of those folks because they are people that have complex needs, big goals.
And one of the biggest things about testing is that it’s so unique to each brand. So, you know, really translating that into real-life examples we find is a really simple way to sort of highlight some best practices and tell some stories here. And so, specifically in today’s presentation, it’s gonna look a little something like this. We’re going to cover the top five areas of focus for great tests, then we’re gonna… Well, really woven throughout out, we’re gonna show you examples from real brands like we just mentioned. A lot of them work directly with Elizabeth. And then we’re gonna talk about Emma’s new content, A/B testing tools, not Emma Matthews, but Emma Email Marketing.
Emma: I wish I was smart enough to make this.
Jamie: Yeah. But we’re gonna walk you through what those look like because we actually do have brand new tools in the account, whether you’re our customer or not, that you can, you know, learn a little something from. So let’s hop right into it.
So when we look at these top five areas, we always love to start here. So, you know, just like any relationship, just like a friendship, if you will, making a great first impression really matters. And in email world, that means up from name and from email address, and we start here because it’s pretty important. We’re all sending emails, regardless of what we do, to crowded inboxes. We are all, on an average day, getting around 150 emails. And, you know, if you’re Emma or I, I think maybe that’s the on the low end but we’re busy, inboxes are crowded, and there are some things to know about all audiences that…and this is human nature, that can help you sort of figure out where to start with testing.
So the two biggest factors influencing open rates are the organization that the email is from first, and then the subject line. And if you think about that, think about your behavior, and this is a snapshot from my own inbox.
Emma: Sneak peek into the life of Jamie.
Jamie: My world. I may have done some selective editing.
Emma: I was gonna say.
Jamie: Yeah, but, no. But you see here, I mean, this is an example of a typical sort of glimpse into anyone’s inbox. The emails that are opened are Cynthia Price, first and foremost, that is my boss. It’s also a reply to an email chain that I was already on and so that doesn’t matter. That is gonna take precedence over your brand pretty much any day of the week and that’s just the world that we’re living in. You are not competing with your competitors, you’re competing, actually, in inboxes with the people that matter the most to me, that are most important to me, that have something to say, and my boss being a great example of that.
So that affects my open rate there, but then secondarily, the subject line does matter. So if you look down, we’ve got this Domino email that has, “This blush bedroom is a retro wonderland.” That reeled me in immediately. I love that emoji. We’ll get to subject lines. They’‘ll get some glory here in a second. And then thirdly, it was Valentine’s Day and a brand that we work with, that we will feature in this webinar, sent one that says, “I love you from my head tomatoes,” tomatoes. So, loving it. And anyway, we’re gonna start with from name because it is important. So here’s a great example, too. So Uberflip that is a partner of ours, we work really closely with them and I love what they do here. So, they do webinars much like we do often, and what you’re looking at on the left is the from name and the subject line when they invited me initially to this webinar.
Also, you’ll note that the reply, too, comes from a person, a real person. It’s not a No-Reply email. Everything about this sort of structured experience here is really nice. What I know about Uberflip though is that right before the webinar, I am going to get a reminder every single time for every event from Hana Abaza and she is their VP of Marketing. And so this is really smart, it’s basically… It catches my attention every time. Obviously, the formatting is a personal note to me.
And most importantly, especially if you’re marketing to other marketers, I know this is not an email that she wrote. I know that. However, I do appreciate the tone of it. I appreciate the voice that she’s using and I also appreciate the consistency of the cadence of how they send these invitations. And so, you know, there are lots of great things going on here but that from name really does matter and I’d love to even just the variation on the subject line, too.
Emma: And, Jamie, one thing here, I actually had a client asked me this and this is slightly off topic…
Jamie: No, it’s okay.
Emma: ...but we’ll go for it. Anytime you’re sending an email from an email service provider, there are two things that have to be included to abide by the CAN-SPAM laws. One is an address and one is an unsubscribe link. So I had a client asked me if we can do that in Emma and we can certainly, you know, customize a footer for you to look just like this Hana Abaza email, but you can see at the bottom, that’s how you really know. If you’re looking for all the tricks out there, seeing that unsubscribe link in the address, you know that it is a mass email but definitely something that we can do. And it just makes it a little bit more toned down then having the regular footer or wrapper that we would see with the logo, and the colors, and things like that.
Jamie: That’s a great point. And it’s also really important to point out in this experience that I now, obviously, sit here and analyze these emails that I’m receiving for webinars like this. But for the normal consumer, and it took me a long time to even realize the pattern, this is all happening at a really subconscious level. So when I open that email from Hana, and I see that it’s…you know, if I sit and analyze it, I realize that this might be a mass communication, but just that gut reaction, that thing that might reel me in initially is truly… These things are happening sort of subconsciously. A lot of sort of science behind opens, happens really, in a…I call it the lizard brain. It’s like just the fight or flight, you’re choosing to move, or go forward, or stop. You’re not doing a lot of in-depth sort of cognitive work at this touchpoint.
Emma: Yeah. And with that email, like, even though there aren’t any graphics or visuals, which I think are so important, she uses a lot of white space there to really break up the content so the calls to action are clear. I think that makes a huge difference if you are gonna send one of these plain text emails to really space everything out, to give the content a little chance to breathe even if there aren’t graphics and a button and things like that.
Jamie: Absolutely. And we will touch more on sort of the design of calls to action, and all that stuff, too, so stick around, but great example here. And then one more, sort of in the from name game, and I’ll let Emma sort of chat about this one a little bit more, it’s from our Nashville American Marketing Association.
Emma: Yeah. So this is… Elizabeth is actually on the board, or I know she was the Volunteer of the Year last year. But, yeah, Elizabeth does a lot of work from…I think it’s NAMA, actually.
Emma: Nama Sushi, NAMA Marketing.
Emma: So, with NAMA, basically, what they do is when they’re sending out more mass communication, something more generic, it’s gonna come from NAMA. When it is something to the actual members, it will come from Tim Earnhart. That is someone that is anyone who is a member would recognize that name. It has relevance, it has weight to it. So I love that strategy of separating out your audience. And I’ll say this multiple times, but it’s all about subtle tweaks. You don’t have to, you know, create brand new emails for each of your target audiences. But even doing something like that, and recognizing that Tim’s name carries weight, and that people value his input and what he has to say, and they’re gonna be more likely to open knowing that it is coming from him and more of a personal message.
The other thing Jamie and I were talking about this earlier, I got an email from…it was like a meditation newsletter or something like that. And they put in the subject line, it was…this was a little bit different than from name, but similar idea. They put the name of someone who was doing something with meditation, and in my head, I was like, “I don’t know who that is, so I don’t really care.” I actually didn’t open the email. What would have gotten me is if it was like, “The best five-minute meditation of your life,” or something like that. Just knowing your audience and know if they have an understanding of the brand that you’re mentioning, or the person that you’re mentioning, and if it would be relevant to them or not.
Jamie: Absolutely. And speaking of subject lines, that’s where we’re headed. So that from name is important…
Emma: I’m just jumping the gun all over the place here.
Jamie: No. No, your transitions are beautiful. So, of course, you know, once you sort of catch my attention and I know who this is from, you have a lot opportunity with the subject lines. And when we talk about testing, subject lines and preheader text are probably areas that most marketers have at least tried. However, to be super effective, rhere are some fun tips and tricks, so we’re gonna move into that now.
Well, first, we start with a stat, 69% of email recipients report messages as spam based solely on the subject line. So even if you reel me in, even if I want to open this, if it looks like something that’s not applicable to me, I don’t know about it. What are some spammy tactics?
Emma: Yeah, I mean, just be careful. Some of this is just common sense, like the all caps. I laugh because all caps is not really a best practice for email marketing, even though when I send emails to my team, I’m like, “You better be sure they’re gonna be in all caps,” like, “You’ve got to read this.” But yeah, just think about that. And actually, I was reading the other day about how emails in all lowercase, or subject lines in all lowercase can be effective. So it’s something to test using words like free, even though that may not trigger a spam filter, it can definitely trigger something…
Jamie: The human.
Emma: ..., you know, subconscious of like, “Okay, it’s a little much.” If anyone knows anything, it’s that nothing is actually free. It can sound a little bit spammy. So just, you know, take it in not only from a marketing perspective, but how would it make you feel if you saw that in your inbox?
Jamie: Yeah. And I think that’s a great point. You know, the spam filters, people ask questions all the time and those things change, you know, what’s gonna get flagged, what’s not, and there are many, many variables. But it’s really designed to the human spam filter first and then if you’re having some…
Emma: Yeah, I love that, the human spam filter.
Jamie: And then if you’re having some delivery issues, then that’s when you can raise your hand and maybe analyze, you know, the actual sort of mechanics behind it.
Emma: And generally, you all, this is what I tell clients all the time, if you’re having open rates that are less than 10%, if you’re an Emma client, please reach out. That typically means that something is going on with delivery. So we’d love to help you with that, but that’s how you know. People get very bogged down in delivery, and the ins and outs of it. If you’re well above 10%, typically, you’re good in a lot of these tests. It will be beneficial below 10%, probably wanna get in touch with your SP or with us, and we can help you figure out a few ways to work around that.
Jamie: That’s a great point. And so when we talk to you about just effective subject lines, and I know we’ve talked about ineffective ones, but effective subject lines, one of the biggest factors is really…you know, we mentioned sort of where people are in the experience but also physically, what are they doing? And so, mobile opens…more emails open now on mobile devices at first than it is on desktops on average. And those numbers sort of have shifted, but it’s been over half of all email opened really for the past one or two years at least, and that usually comes from Litmus, our friends there.
But when it comes specifically to mobile opens, it’s good to design for that space first. And so it’s good to sort of have your bearings on what that experience is like. So the average mobile screen, regardless of device, can really only fit around four to seven words maximum, so bear that in mind. Subject lines, this is why, subject lines with 30 or fewer characters have an above average open rate and it just makes sense. If you’re sending some paragraph, or you know, 20-word subject line, the likelihood that the message there is going to get cut off as very high. iPhones cut off characters around 32, 36 characters, so it makes sense that these sort of success metrics correlate to that now.
Emma: And even not just in mobile, Jamie, and I looked through my inbox earlier for just marketing messages and instantly we were pointing out the ones, we were like, “These all have four to seven words,” like, “Oh my God, this is actually true.” It’s so funny.
Jamie: Exactly. So here’s an actual example from us, from Emma. Fun fact, we test our own subject lines here all the time. It’s one of the “Why not?” It’s fun. It’s fun and also, you know, obviously, it didn’t matter how great this email looks if nobody’s opening it, right? Like we’re not doing this for our health, but we might as well have fun while we’re at it. So when we tested our subject lines recently, and we sent this out and we tested, “Let’s do this 2017,” arm emoji, and, “This year is going to be one for the books.” Emma, what do you think won?
Emma: Let’s do this 2017, arm emoji.
Jamie: Emma, you are correct. And look at it, I mean, and I sort of stacked these side by side for a reason. My eye kind of glosses over the second one. I mean, I…
Emma: Yeah, totally.
Jamie: The first one is so compelling and it’s also really important to kind of point out some other elements here, and we’ll get to emoji in a second.
Emma: Yeah, so with testing anything and I feel pretty strongly about this, but you have to test one thing. The second you test more than one thing, who knows what was the deciding factor and which one won. See, I love that you all kept the preheader text the same here. So it’s very clear that the winner was chosen because of the subject line and not because of, you know, other factors as well.
Jamie: Yeah. And that again, that preheader text is that, you know, that those gray lines of text underneath the subject and you can indeed edit those really easily in Emma, but sort of testing preheader text and subject lines in tandem, you know, it can skew your results. So it’s good to kind of just stick to one. So we won’t just talk about us. But another one because I have a data here, we recently did a split test. So we’re hosting a conference in April at Marketing United, April 19 to the 21st. You’ve probably received an email about it or 50. So we test our subject lines here as well. So, Emma, which subject line do you think won?
Emma: “They’re baaaack.”
Jamie: Emma, you’re correct. For one segment of our audience. So why we point this test out is that, you know, obviously, again, “They’re baaaack,” it’s short, it’s witty, it stands out, it was my personal favorite, it won for our customers. So we segment this audience based on customer and non-customer because this event is not tailored just for…it’s not a user conference, specifically. So we want everyone to know that they’re welcome to come. So, “They’re baaaack” really resonated with our audience of customers, likely because those customers know us and they know We talk this way to our customers often, that we have sort of a fun tone.
But, “Look who’s coming back to Nashville,” that really resonated with noncustomers. It ended up pulling out and being the winner here, and again, we kept the preheader text consistent. And, you know, the assumption that we can make there and again, this is something…we only did this once. So we want to test this, again, is that the less sort of pithy subject line really resonated with people that maybe aren’t as close to our brand. And so, you know…
Emma: That’s kind of related to us talking about with, like, the meditation email, like using someone’s name. Just be careful when you’re using jargon that’s specific you. I tell that to my team all the time, we’re working with so many clients and we have so much language that we’ve built up at Emma and just constantly reminding myself and everyone that people don’t know what we’re talking about.
Jamie: Sometimes, yeah.
Emma: Like, everyone has different words for different things and a brand that is so important to you and you spent so much time making the email and crafting it, you know, to highlight them, your audience may have no idea who they are. So knowing your audience and, you know, what kind of rapport you have with two different segments and what would be most relevant, it’s definitely important. I love this example.
Jamie: Yeah, and so sort of breezing through here. So, you know, we touched on emoji earlier, they’re trendy, you see them pop up in subject lines all the time. If you read about subject lines constantly like I do, there’s a camp already that’s like, “They’re outdated.” We would definitely say though that some of our most effective sort of successful customers that this makes sense for are seeing amazing results with it. I know that that’s something…it’s kind of just starting to take off, really.
Emma: Yeah, and I don’t think they’re outdated, like, it’s so funny. Even looking through my inbox, no one’s really using them. So when you are using them, like, you do stand out. Of course, they’re always gonna be the brands that this would just not the appropriate for.
Jamie: Right. If you’re a lawyer.
Emma: Yeah. I mean, if you can swing it, I would definitely try it because I don’t think that they’re being overused. I don’t think they’re being outdated. I kind of feel like they’re dressed now coming in and I’m just now having them, like, work on me. You know what I mean? Like, I’m like, “Oh, I’m into this.” So I would definitely try it if it’s something that feels comfortable and on brand. Actually, even if it doesn’t feel comfortable because I do recommend testing things that may…your gut maybe like, “This won’t work,” but it’s not about your gut, it’s about your audience. So more importantly if it’s on brand but yeah, it’s definitely something to try.
Jamie: And just some tips to point out, you wanna be careful if you’re doing this. If you’re sending out a subject line that says, “We heart you.” If that heart gets blocked out then that’s gonna say, “I square you,” which is very strange. So you wanna be really careful that the emoji are not replacing words that would make your subject line have no meaning. Also, if you look at this example, PureWow has done the no-no and put a bunch of emoji that may not tell me anything but Eater down below has actually tried an emoji in their preheader text, which that is….whether if you think it’s passé, that is definitely not. That is kind of a new…
Emma: That’s creative.
Jamie: That is a new, fun tactic and also the way that they’ve done it is great because it doesn’t lose any meaning if you can’t see the cute little thinking guy emoji. It’s also important to point out that if you know you have a ton of mobile opens, you know you have a ton of iPhone opens, this is a really great sort of thing to test. If you have a ton of people using perhaps platforms or devices that don’t tend to support this, you wanna maybe just, again, pay attention to your audience and we’ll touch on that a little bit more later on as well. Another one that I just threw in here, I got this yesterday. I really like this because REVOLVE, it’s five wedding rings. It’s bold, it’s maybe not…
Emma: They got me with this one.
Jamie: They did. She and I organically both opened this email and had not chatted with each other. And what they’ve done is they’ve done a great job with the preheader text, you know, supplementing and adding value to this.
Emma: Yeah, it would have maybe been less effective had the preheader text also been something that was very, like….
Jamie: That’s was very vague or… Yeah.
Emma: ...very vague, yeah. But they really let you know what’s going on in the preheader text.
Jamie: And I will say, too, they really were pioneers with emoji, so I have a feeling that they know that this is pretty solid with their audience.
Emma: Yes, definitely.
Jamie: And so if you’re gonna take a risk like this, you know, make sure that the data sort of backs you up there. And so we wanna head into kind of a final example here. We have a client that works with Elizabeth, they’re called Thistle Farms. And Thistle Farms is a nonprofit organization that employs women that are healing from situations like human trafficking and addiction. It’s a wonderful organization, and through the organization, they employ more than 1,500 of these women to create goods, they run a café, they sell lotion, they sell jewelry. It’s a really beautiful organization.
But their model of business, you know, it’s a nonprofit, it is helping people, but essentially, they are selling retail items. They need to push product, and they worked really closely with Elizabeth on their entire program, but specifically, they began testing subject lines. And I’m gonna let Emma tell us a little bit more about that and about sort of their Purple Monday deals program that they implemented here.
Emma: Also on this slide, if you’re paying close attention to know who everyone is, I’m laughing because this is talking about receiving a daily meditation and I was too, and I didn’t know that that was on there, but not the same brand. We love Thistle Farms. They would never do that. So, yeah, if we…
Jamie: Yeah, go ahead.
Emma: Awesome. So testing some subject lines here, three variations, this one I actually love because this is what I would expect that would win. The first one is kind of that idea of, “Sell what’s inside,” the second one is that, “Tell what’s inside,” and then the third one is what I was talking about earlier with the Starfish Project. If people aren’t aware of the Starfish Project I’m sure it’s amazing, but they will be less, you know, incentivize to open if they don’t have that brand recognition.
So I love this. They sent three variations. Typically for clients, I recommend sending two because I find that there’s a more clear winner. But what we find a lot with content testing or subject line testing, in this case, is that 5,000 recipients is a good place to start to find a clear winner of whatever it is you’re testing. So, they’re right on the cusp of that, which is why I think that we did see one more clearly pull away. But yeah, I love that they use this feature and I love, “The circle necklace has arrived.” It has that sense of like, “The anticipation is over. The way is over. It’s here. It has arrived.” I thought that was really cool too. It’s kind of the sense of urgency we talked about a lot, but this is kind of that excitement and that exclusivity.
Jamie: Right, and which is proven to boost open rates somewhere in the park of around 22% on average for a lot of people when you make it feel like an event even if it’s not. I had no expectation, but I’m so excited that’s here.
Emma: I’m so excited the five circle necklace has arrived.
Jamie: Yeah. Right.
Emma: No clue what it is, but I can’t wait to see it.
Jamie: Right, I know and apparently it was really effective, right? So this is their response screen for the specific mailing.
Emma: And one thing, too, I wanted to mention and this is something that Elizabeth worked with Thistle Farms on, they had done a lot of kind of more general mailings, never really wanting to push their products are too much, and that’s something that Elizabeth helped them work on. It’s just being more direct, and that’s something, even it’s just a life tip, I just feel like everything unfolds when you just say what you want and what people, you know, can expect to receive.
So in this example, rather than just being vague about it, they’re saying like, “This necklace has arrived. Here it is. I’m making it easy for you to purchase it.” People have so many choices and options and information overload, they want us as marketers to tell them…
Jamie: Cut through that noise.
Emma: ...like, “This is the one thing you want. We have hundreds of products, here’s the circle necklace.” And it’s easy and people appreciate that. You’re doing them a favor by being direct, and being clear, and having a specific call to action.
Jamie: And it was the first time they’d taken that approach and never had they had one mailing get this amount of revenue. So that’s worth pointing out. Also, 37% open rate is higher than really that normal average. That’s an exceptionally good open rate. And 26% clickthrough rate, those are really above average sort of notes. So this is absolutely fantastic for them.
Emma: And with this one, too, they had actually… I believe this was around the holidays, and they had actually excluded their unengaged audience, reengagement is something I could talk about forever and ever. But if you’re doing any kind of big promotion around the holiday season, the people who are reengaged, have not been opening your emails, the number one reason typically why people unsubscribe or don’t open is receiving too many emails. So you don’t really wanna make that worse by continuing to pepper them. I definitely recommend segmenting them out, suppressing them from your sends, and wait till after the holidays or after the promotion, and then, you know, start sending to them and reengagement. In that way, they’ve had a break.
Jamie: Right. No, that’s a great tip and I know we actually got several questions about that at registration. So we’re gonna spend some time there later.
Emma: Oh, wow. Okay. All right.
Jamie: So we’ve talked about from name, subject line, some tips to open. Really though, this is it, timing is everything, best time of day, day of the week to send in every webinar that I do, and y’all, I do a lot.
Emma: She does a lot.
Jamie: We get this question, “At what day should I send? When should I send?” And my answer is always really annoying, simply put, “This is one of the biggest things that you have got to test for yourself and your audience period.” Emma could not tell you, I cannot tell you, the data will tell you the best answer for this. And a great illustration of testing is with a client of ours called NourishWise and they’re a customer here, that essentially partners with restaurants and they surface and curate healthy dining options to their subscribers and it’s a really cool model. It’s kind of unique.
And so here, what you see, you know, NourishWise sort of came to us, right? And they were just like, “Hey, we’re getting our business started, we’re busy trying to find investors, help us. We’re really trusting you as experts.” So I know you worked with them, so did Elizabeth, and so something that’s fun to point out here, just generally about their audience before Emma sort of walk you through this welcome experience is that, first and foremost, you know, they were just sort of generally sending…for their general emails, they were sending at 10:30 in the morning and then 3:00 p.m. And then they started testing that they realized, okay, if we send half at 10:30, half at 3:00 p.m., who’s gonna win? And 10:30 a.m. won. So for their general mailings that they send out all the time, they send those in that 10:30 spot. They send really special stuff. I like that 3:00 p.m. spot. So just, you know, peeling back the curtain at one brand.
This sort of, I guess, general stat, that baseline when people ask, “When should I send?” The most generic answer that is, if you’re not actually looking at data or you don’t have data yet, Tuesdays and Thursday between 10:00 and 2:00. That’s a good, like, simple place to start. Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to have kind of some of the highest engagement rates just in general. But again, as we’re going to see with these examples, that can vary widely once you actually start testing this with data.
Emma: Yeah, and I mean, I just feel like it’s so funny because we tell people that and not us, we’re just marketers and I read that all the time and I’m like, “Then everyone just start sending then.” And then the marketers are like, “Well, I mean if you’re really smart, you’ll send outside of that because that is saturated time right now.”
Jamie: It is, yeah.
Emma: And as with any best practice, it’s a starting point. Your audience could be completely different. There are always, always, always exception. So everyone, you know, I hope you just take this as, like, “That’s a great starting point,” kind of that safe zone, but don’t just get stuck there. You know, you want to get outside and test that and hopefully, you walk away with lots of ideas for that.
As far as this goes, and I tell this story a bunch, but Jason came in before he had this whole series set up. He had a welcome email going out. IT was super generic, just kind of, “Hey, thanks for signing up. Here’s a link back to our website.” It didn’t really have any, like, emotion or feeling behind it. Jason came in to talk with me about working with our professional services team and I said, “Okay, let me know about your brand? Give me your sales pitch. Why is it awesome? Why should I be interested in this? And not me, but like, Why should anyone?”
Jamie: Why should anyone?
Emma: Yeah. And he told this amazing story just about his family health history, and his lifestyle, and why he is eating out a ton, and healthy options are hard to come by, but it’s so important to him. And it was, you know, on and on and on and super awesome. I said, “Jason, none of this is in your email marketing, none of this is in your welcome series. The welcome series is the most open, most clicked email you’ve ever send.” So it’s super important that we highlight that and then we focus on subscribers becoming brand loyal, and not just people passing through. So I love that Elizabeth was able to finish that thought, and going here, and implement this for him, and it’s been super effective.
Jamie: Exactly. And so we point out this example in the timing section because time is really not only the day that you send, which again, to Emma’s point, there’s a baseline, that’s something that you can have fun and test, you know, with your own audience, but the time is also that lifecycle. And so this is a really effective and really interesting example of, you know, a lot of times with a welcome series, we say, “Hey, when you sign up, email number one needs to hit the inbox ASAP. It needs to hit that inbox immediately.”
And by and large for our customer base and the clients that Emma and Elizabeth work with, that is the truth. They see the best results when that first email hits the inbox and it’s automated. Obviously, this whole series is automated. However, with testing and with sort of looking at this entire strategy, Jason started to work with Elizabeth and they actually…you know, they obviously went from sort of the more generic welcome series to this more sort of three-part introductory, “Here’s why you should care about our brand,” all that good stuff.
But they also started playing around with just the send time in general and looking at, “Maybe we should delay that first send.” And I think it’s important to point out that with a welcome series, with something that’s automated, there’s a big sort of, I don’t know, want to maybe set it and forget it, and not revisit this, but this is some of your most impactful content. So you wanna make sure that you are setting people, you know, setting this very important series up for success. So that’s kind of what that’s all about there.
Emma: Yeah, and you know, the send time lever is definitely something to pull and play around with and even, like, this goes against everything that I…like, I’m even hesitant to say this, but I know Jason currently has been playing around with sending the welcome series out on a delay which typically, you know, I’m like, “You wanna send it immediately, it’s a handshake. If someone introduces himself to you, you immediately follow up with that,” but they are seeing great results with this. It scares me to say it but again, it’s like, it’s not about why you think is gonna work. They got crafty and creative and went out on a limb.
Jamie: And their open rate was already over 50% for these emails, which is actually… I would say it’s a little above average for a welcome series, but a welcome series does typically have… I mean, we have a lot that are in that 40, 50 percentile sort of open rate and same like high clicks as well, especially for the very first mailing that deploys and why it’s so interesting. But after changing it from immediately to 18 hours later, we’ve noticed an uptick of somewhere between 5% and 7% depending on when we check on it. So, that’s really interesting.
And so I leave kind of this section, too, with one final anecdote from Elizabeth, she was working with people that of super niche. They sold booking software to charter boat captains and they sat down, they were struggling with engagement, no one was opening, and she started to do an audit with them and ask, you know, “Hey, you have a really unique audience, I can’t tell you how this audience reacts, you know charter boat captains way better than I do.” And so, you know, that she started to really ask and dig, and asked a lot of questions.
Charter boat captains don’t check their email, thankfully, until they’re done chartering boats, and for that audience, that tended to be really, really late at night. So they changed their send times out to like midnight and the opens and clicks really skyrocketed for them. So when we talk about knowing that audience, really sit down and evaluate, who are you emailing? Are these people sitting at a desk? Are these people who are always on the go? Are they people that it would be…are they pilots? Like, “Please, don’t answer your email while you’re flying me around.” So, you know, think about those things and really evaluate that and that’s something that we are happy to dig in with our customers about all the time.
So, you know, we’ve got some stuff to cover here. So location matters, of course, as well. So it’s not just about, you know, when you’re sending subject line. And so, just to kind of bring us here, bring us home, The Escape Game is this really awesome brand. You’ve probably heard of this, it’s literally we’re for fun, someone locks you in a room and you try to get out. It sounds terrifying to me…
Emma: Yeah, it does. That’s a great description. There’s cringing, yes.
Jamie: Yeah, that’s essentially what it is. People love them. And The Escape Game, and this is actually the OG, the very first. They’re based in Nashville. They came to us and had a very similar problem to NourishWise. They were like, “Hey, we’re trying to launch a business in multiple cities, we’re busy, you guys know what you’re doing.” And so we sat down with them and we thought, you know, “Hey…” or Elizabeth sat down with them rather and I didn’t. And they started to work together and determined that their number one goal with email wasn’t just to say, you know, “Please, come to The Escape Game,” they were already getting a lot of traffic. They really though realize that they wanted to increase repeat bookings. So they had a goal coming to us from the very beginning, and everything that you’re gonna see for the remainder of the presentation about them points back to that goal and I think that that’s one of the most important things. It’s really evaluating, what is your email program needing to do? And you can do some amazing testing to sort of hone in on that.
And so what they did here, as you see it’s just one email with dynamic content both in the header portion and in that footer sort of area. So, you know, Nashville and Orlando have different games. So immediately when I get this automated emails thanking me for playing, I have a unique code, I have a Book Now button. And the only variable in this experience, in this test is just to see that if we send it based on location, does it increase bookings? And lo and behold, once implemented, they’ve now counted around 200 new, you know, bookings versus zero repeat bookings just from having done this test. And again, it’s a variable that…it’s just simply segmenting. You know, a lot of people think testing is like typing in some algorithm and doing math, and really, it’s just, “Hey, see where I am. Send me content that’s gonna visually make sense to me.”
Emma: Yeah. And the timing here, so when we initially set this up, it was on our automation platform. It was sending out at midnight, Pacific Time, that was fixed. If you’re an Emma client, I always say, read those in the emails that are sending out, there are so many new product updates and new features and fun stuff happening but as soon as that happened, Elizabeth went in and changed it to actually be on a delay. So we’re sending in the morning and they saw a 7% increase in their open rates there, which is awesome.
Jamie: Perfect. Yeah, it’s a good one. And, you know, also location-based, just a really brief story here. Elizabeth also worked really closely with Canyon Ranch, which is a luxury resort. And so a really cool thing for them is that they have a West Coast location, East Coast location, and they were just sending once a year via Outlook. So they had no data, they had no way of knowing opens, clicks, any sort of metrics, and it took a little bit of convincing, but Elizabeth said, “Hey, at least if you send this out of Emma you’re gonna have some data.”
And so what they did is that they not only segmented by location, but then they took it a step further and segmented by prospect, how they visited one’s with a group, like a corporate event, and where they already a member that were up for renewal, and so not only did they segment by location but they really wanted to segment by that life cycle simultaneously. So when we say test one thing at a time, really, hear what they’re testing is one thing. It’s the segmentation, but they are breaking people into some different groups.
And just like, you know, dynamic content was used with The Escape Game, they did the same thing for these groups. So these are only emails that go to the Tucson segment, but Tucson gets three different emails. So, you get commit to healthy living, CTA sort of above the fold, you get joy and inspiration year after year, that’s sort of they’ve been befor,e but you know, you wanna remind them like, “Hey, you could come back again.” And then renew now is a bit more direct.
Emma: And I love these and I just always say, like, even sending specific emails out, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can see a lot of this is the same. I mean, it’s the same picture with different tagline, a lot of the text is the same at the bottom, just a couple changes.
Jamie: Incremental tweaks.
Emma: Yeah, you know, you don’t have to…it doesn’t have to be so daunting. Just small tweaks can make a big difference in the feel of the email.
Jamie: And these small tweaks made a huge difference and they went from really unmeasurable number to a 55% open rate. Almost every single…I think I have a screen but I don’t. Almost every single mailing that they send out has above a 40% open rate, which for a non-welcome email is huge and really, it’s a testament to that segmentation. Also, you know, the Massachusetts versus Tucson emails, that image that is used is also different there. It’s the same method but it’s…you know, this is a sunny picture. The Massachusetts one’s a little bit more mountain lodge. So it’s a really cool way to approach it.
And so kind of, you know, walking out, obviously, again, as we said, we’re not sending this for our health, we are trying to get people to take action and we’ve seen some good examples of that. Emails with a single call to action can increase clicks by as much as 371% and sales by 1,617%, which sounds fake. That comes from Wordstream, they are very smart. I trust them. But really, it comes down to when you give people too many options, often too many options lead to people bouncing off of an email, off of a page, having a direct goal and a focus is key.
And so this example, this is actually a client of Tyler, who’s another person on Emma’s team. And really what you’re looking at here is that they wanted to test a Valentine’s deal. They wanted to include the same sort of content, essentially, but they only wanted to have one button versus a button for each sort of deal. It’s important to point out too that they also tested some button color, but they kept the language on the button consistent.
When it comes to sort of interacting with calls to action, buttons are more mobile friendly. You wanna make sure that the color contrast, which these do beautifully, you wanna put a little space around them, so it’s easy to tell it is indeed a button, maybe centered it as you’ve seen in all the examples. But if you are going to do a test about maybe the hierarchy where that button is, how many there are, you wanna make sure that you do keep perhaps certain elements consistent, which they are doing here. So they conducted this test and guess which one won?
Emma: Well, I have to say I remember when Tyler was doing this with the client and this was Tyler’s on the left and the client was on the right, and Ty was like, “Best practices, don’t fail me now, like, mine’s got win. I’m the expert here,” and it did.
Jamie: And it did.
Emma: And it did. And actually, we ended up… I’ll explain the metrics here, you’re like, “Wait a second.” So this one won, so the one with one call to action, you can’t really see it, but I swear the version two is Tyler’s. It did it and it was not a giant margin. But you see, you know, the open rate was 2%, higher, closer to 30%, which, again, is fantastic but the clickthrough rate was double what the other one had. And really, again, it’s because you give someone one option.
Jamie: Yeah, make it easy.
Emma: Yeah, make it easy, sort of reduce that effort. And, again, make it really simple for somebody to interact with it. Here’s a sort of before and after. If you look at this email, it’s not really mobile-friendly. There are no buttons, there’s tons of links. I have no idea kind of what to pick or where to go from this mailing. And this is Convention & Visitors Bureau in Philadelphia. So we worked with them and now they’re sending something that looks like this, which is much more mobile-friendly, those buttons really stand out, they contrast. A lot of people ask us about testing buttons all the time, which I could go on and on about forever. Really, to me, there isn’t a magic button color. It’s just like sometimes, you know, red might be popular, yellow might be… A lot of schools of thought…some people think color theory is junk science, I think there’s a little something to it, but first and foremost, you just wanna make sure that button contrasts with the background and then it’s really easy to tell that there’s something that you want me to do. And using really nice sort of direct first-person language is a good rule of thumb.
And then we have Escape Game again, we’re gonna kind of go because I wanna make sure that we get to questions, but this is Escape Game is actually now testing. When we say test things, we mean that. We really mean like keep iterating. Just like NourishWise did with their welcome series, Escape Game wasn’t just satisfied to do the one automated email, they now have expanded. That was so successful for them that they now testing new CTAs, new automated workflows. This email now as an additional flow that goes out to people in a certain location one week after they’ve encountered or played a game asking them for initial bookings or additional bookings.
They also are about to launch another mailing and I think this one’s really brilliant and why I’m really excited to see what results they get. This is a dynamic email. It’s by location as well, but it’s more about the specific game that the person played. So this is a content marketing play. This is meant to really elevate The Escape Game and let you know that, first of all, they were the original. There are a lot of competitors, there might be some knockoffs out there, and they actually have real engineers, and designers, and architects who build these games and it’s really compelling. And so as we learned more and more about that with them, or as Elizabeth did, we really thought, “Hey, why don’t you put some of that content for us and really get people to understand, you know, that there’s…
Emma: The quality behind the game, yeah.
Jamie: Exactly. So I think when it comes to calls to action, again, this is still focused. It’s the same method. They haven’t changed the promo code idea because that’s how they’re tracking sort of the success of these emails. They haven’t changed their language. They are literally just changing the type of content experience and making it even more valuable. And so we’re really excited to see what happens when they launch this.
And then just a quick sort of overview, this is a screenshot from their response section. I know we’ve sort of shown a couple but just to a broad kind of overview of what a response section looks like here you know, you’re able to, obviously, see, with Emma customers, how you compare to other customers. You’re able to see how many opens you’ve received, clicks, your delivery rate, and then this opens by device I think is really fascinating, you know, because you’re able to actually see how many people open on a desktop versus mobile. You can see for them, it’s around a pretty average 50/50 split. And you also have a click map. So you can see specifically which elements of this…which call to action was most successful. You can also see the opens by client. So let’s say perhaps you wanna start testing, sending fun animated GIFs. Well, if 80% of your audience is opening on Outlook, we would advise against that and there’s things like that
Emma: Yes, you would.
Jamie: That’s something that we can elaborate on with you in the Q&A, but you know, there are certain clients and by device, you know, Gmail has its own sort of quirks and fun stuff, so does Apple Mail, and you know, this kind of data can tell you a lot about what’s going on there. So we promised it. We wanna close out today and then hop into Q&A with just a brief overview of our content testing functionality because it is new, and I know we have a lot of clients on the line and…
Emma: It’s awesome.
Jamie: Non-customers, too, yeah.
Emma: We’re super excited.
Jamie: Totally. And so what we’re gonna look at here’s an example of really testing that, again, above the fold content. People are scanning around 80% of your audience. So again, for testing purposes, everything is consistent below that sort of hero image and there’s a video? So what we’re really testing here is do they click the image itself or do they actually click what looks to be a video? So it’s the same message. And so with the content testing, what you can do, you know, why we wanted to kind of walk through this, too, not only just show it off, but to also just again reiterate, you can test everything at once, but you probably don’t want to.
So for this test, really, what we want to do is keep the subject line and preheader text consistent, but we really do just wanna test that content. So we select our mailing, we wanna test content Outerwear A, we wanna name the test. It allows you to suppress segments like Emma. So if you do want…if you’re in the middle of a promotion, and you know that there’s a group that you do wanna exclude from that, you can do that right from the screen, which is nice, because you don’t have to build custom segments. You can also choose how many and I know you have some thoughts on sort of, like, what’s a good sample size. So that comes up a lot.
Emma: So again, a rule of thumb being 5,000. So if your sample size is 5,000, if you have a smaller list, you obviously wanna send it out to a bigger margin, or even that option at the bottom, like just split the audience in half and let’s see what wins here, and use that for our data in the future. So the bigger the sample size that you have, then the test group size can go down from there.
Jamie: Yeah, that’s a great point. And then yeah, so we picked 30. And so for this because it’s literally, you know, specifically testing one element, we wanna choose the most clicks on a link in each mailing, and then down below you can see we get to determine what that link is. So if the only link in that mailing is to that, then we can determine that if that link is clicked enough, we’re gonna know. And then you can also choose the winner there.
Autosend the winning version so you can sort of just set it and forget it in a way, which is popular or you can say, “Hey, I feel a little bit more comfortable if I monitored this,” or maybe the test isn’t going, maybe you’re being really risky, and you’re like, “Woah, no, I was just kind of kidding. I only really want, like, a few people to get this crazy test.” You can manually choose a winner. So once you go… Oh, yeah, you can also schedule it to go out or you can just send it immediately. So that’s kind of nice. You can, you know, really plan the out far in advance if you’d like. Yeah. And so once you pick one of those options, it starts going.
Emma: It’s so easy.
Jamie: It’s really easy.
Emma: I mean, literally with my team, we have to test every mailing like, “Why not? It’s so easy and why not figure out what’s the best.”
Jamie: Yeah, exactly. It’s just fun. I mean, I’m a nerd, so I like doing it. And you can also stop the test if it’s in progress. So that’s always fun. You know, some people will have received it, of course. But you can, you know, if you especially have that sample size, until there’s a winner, only the sample size…sample audience is going to receive this. And then, there you go, we have a winner. And I actually manually stop this test before we had any data. But, you know, you can manually stop it, this is what you’re gonna look at. And you can click in further to go see the full response for each mailing.
So, you know, we’re going to obviously tell you who came out ahead. But if you do want to dig in, and, you know, again, get into some of those metrics like opens by device or that kind of thing, all of that data is still captured just like an individual mailing. And then there you go. And you know what, you can test mailings over and over again. So, you know, you don’t have to just do it once. So here, that’s where I was talking about, let’s take the losing mailing and see if we can test the subject line and preheader text. So you’re never done testing, my friends.
Jamie: All right. And I know I babbled a bunch and that is what Elizabeth looks like, let’s wish her well. But again, if you have any questions, let us know right now, we’re gonna hop into it really quickly. Also, feel free to email us email@example.com, H-I @myemma.com. and we’ll make sure that we get you to the right person to either answer your question or talk more about content testing.
So first question, let’s go here. Let’s see here. Oh my gosh, we have so many good ones. “We’ve got a big database, 1.2 million users, the bulk majority of which are inactive and unengaged, can you review strategies for testing that won’t allow these dead leads to distort our results?” And so I mentioned suppression but I know you’ve got probably ideas on that.
Emma: Yeah, definitely suppression. If you don’t want them to distort your results or potentially negatively hurt your inbox placement, again, that under 10% open rate is a trigger there but suppressing them, for sure, that’s gonna the number one recommendation that I would have.
Jamie: Absolutely. Sue has a question. I like this one and this is when we get…and it’s more design-focused, but it’s, “Why did the biggest players all stick with giant image-based emails?” And we actually are doing a webinar next week about retail emails, you should all attend. That will address this probably in more depth. But one thing that we get a lot that we didn’t really hammer home here with testing is that, you know, retailers, they are, you know, really the biggest brands. They really are going with more image-heavy content.
And by and large, that is because, I bring it back the lizard brain, our brains process images much faster than they process text. It’s to the tune of 60,000 times faster. So when you open an email again, you know, I’m processing that from name and subject line, but when I do actually open your content, if I see nothing, if I am not enticed to sort of go further down into the mailing, it can kind of stopped me there. So that is definitely something to test.
People ask about the ratio all the time, a good baseline is that 60/40, kind of 60% images, 40% text. But, you know, you’re seeing people do that quite frankly because it’s working for them, because they’re testing it. And it’s working for them because human beings like that and we know that now because of years of sending emails that were three columns and it was, you know, when I first started it was just about translating a paper newsletter, I mean, people didn’t know what email was, email marketing was. So we’ve evolved beyond that and if you’re seeing it everywhere, a good rule of thumb is that it’s probably working. If it’s good enough for West Elm, there’s probably some data behind that. That’s actually a great rule of thumb, especially if you’re a smaller business…
Emma: Sign up for other emails to get examples.
Jamie: Exactly. Get examples.
Emma: Yeah, it’s so important.
Jamie: And if you’re noticing trends like that, especially some of that you’re like, “Yeah, they probably have a budget, they probably have a data analyst on staff,” there’s probably a really good reason for that. So I think that’s a great point.
Time for one more, I’m sorry, we went kind of long. Oh, here’s a good one, “What are some…” I mean we talked about subject lines a lot, but, “What are some of your best strategies?” When you’re working with clients Emma, what are your best strategies for sort of just generating good subject lines? What are the sort of like your checklist with them of, you know, it needs? You kind of walked through that earlier, but people do ask it a lot, like, “How do I even write these? Where do I start?”
Emma: Yeah, definitely. And there’s lots of cool like helpful links online for, like, subject line generators to kind of give you a start and give you some examples but really, I always start with the goal, like, “What is the goal of the email?” If you’re gonna be testing, I typically would test one with the sell what’s inside and one with the tell what’s inside. It depends on your audience there. I typically prefer like, “Tell me what you’re giving me here.” But that’s a good way, just to start with what the content of the email is? What is the goal of the email?
And then try maybe one fun, more quirky, more vague one, and one that is more specific. In that way, when you start doing a few tests, you get that data and maybe find that the more specific and CTA-driven one is the winner, and then you can start playing with that and start testing different variants that are more similar.
Jamie: Absolutely. And actually… Oh, we have one more, firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more questions. I can’t pass this one up. “What’s a good amount of time to run a test? I know the preset is four hours, but is there a rule of thumb.” That’s from Sarah and honestly, the reason I wanna answer that is because I’m like, “That’s a perfect thing to test.” The preset is four, especially if you’ve never run a test before.
If you’ve been sending test with the preset time of four hours and you’re not really seeing the results that you’d wanna see, that’s a perfect lever in that mix. I think those screens that we showed, you can test any one element there. That would probably not be… I would say that there isn’t really a general hard and fast rule for what we think four-hour tests are the best. That’s just kind of what we, I think, what we do.
Emma: Well, we’re set up that way just in knowing that the majority, you’re gonna get enough responses in that four hours. I mean, obviously, if you’re sending an email at midnight, and you have it set for four hours, the data is gonna be very slim. So, I mean, you do have to be strategic about that.
Jamie: Unless you send to the charter boat captains.
Emma: Yeah, the charter boat captains will be opening.
Jamie: Right, that’s a perfect point, too, yeah. There’s a stat that now I’m pulling it out because this is the live Q&A, and so I don’t know the source off the top my head, but where I can find it.
Emma: We’ll forgive you.
Jamie: But, you know, the majority of email is opened in that first hour of it being sent and that is why that’s send time correlating to the activity or sort of how your audience is already behaving is really important. Because when you send the email is important in that if the intended audience is available, they’re gonna interact with it. So, you know, I think to Emma’s point, that four hours gives you enough time to hopefully capture…
Emma: For the…yeah.
Jamie: Yeah, for people to get that. Okay, we’re out of time. We got a lot of great questions. Again, reach out to us, email@example.com. We’d love to chat with you more about content testing. We’re also, of course, gonna follow up with the recording and more information about how to get started with that or you know, just more information if you’re wanting to dig in. So thank you so much for joining us.
Emma: Thank you.
Jamie: And I hope you have a great day.
Emma: And weekend.
Jamie: And weekend, yeah, it’s Friday. All right, bye, guys.