If your e-mail marketing budget — or allocated staff time — is tighter than you’d like, how can you figure out which tests are worth conducting and which won’t move the needle?
MarketingSherpa’s research team recently conducted the largest-ever survey of e-mail marketers in the world, with 3,637 respondents. One of our critical questions was “Which creative e-mail tests give the best return on investment?”
Here’s one of the many results charts for you to review (see link at the end of this article for more):
E-mail Tests: B-to-C Marketers Evaluate ROI
Source: MarketingSherpa, E-mail Marketing Benchmark Survey, November 2006
Methodology: This fifth annual survey was opened to selected MarketingSherpa reader lists on Oct. 26 and closed on Nov. 1, 2006; 3,637 total responses were collected from e-mail marketers (2,492) and employees at agencies/e-mail service providers working with e-mail (1,145).
We chose the six most common creative tests to ask about. The most notable result: Testing in and of itself increases ROI. In every case more than 50% of marketers improved ROI (even if only moderately) by testing.
My favorite result: Copywriting really, really matters. The three best ROI tests had more to do with words (copy, offer, subject line) than with design or graphics.
Your Web design team (or IT department) and Web analytics departments also have to be put on notice. As this chart proves, the landing page (where clicks land) is critical. Which means your e-mail department may in the end drive Website development, instead of just linking to already-created Web pages. The e-mail department has to have a heavy hand in the Web design team’s ongoing tests and decisions. E-mail can’t be an isolated department down the hall anymore.
This also means your e-mail analytics are not complete at just opens and clicks; you have to include Web data after the click. Luckily many e-mail services vendors have anticipated this and are either merging with or allying with Web analytics firms. The “single dashboard” movement — wherein marketing results from multiple online channels are all shown in a single report — is off to a flying start, even for smaller marketing organizations.
The only problem moving forward that I can see is how to integrate offline campaigns — which ultimately must be included. But that’s a battle that we’ll continue to be fighting for the next five years or more.
As for 2007, if you’re having a hard time getting a budget for the personnel or the technology you need to conduct e-mail tests, I hope the above chart is helpful. Too often senior management is prone to considering e-mail something that’s nearly free and easy instead of a marketing tactic that you should invest in for significant improvements.
Perhaps that’s the biggest goal of all for e-mail in 2007. Just test something, anything. Even a dinky test is worthwhile if you can use the results to create a powerful chart for the next senior management meeting. Your goal: to prove that e-mail tests are worth investing more in.
We’ve known for a decade that e-mail is a profitable marketing medium. Now it’s time to start taking e-mail seriously by dedicating more copywriting, staffing, and technology to the medium.
My best wishes with your 2007 tests!
Anne Holland is president of MarketingSherpa, a research firm publishing buyer’s guides and benchmark data for its 237,000 marketing executive subscribers. For a copy of MarketingSherpa’s new E-mail Marketing Benchmark Guide for 2007, which includes 233 tables and charts of practical e-mail marketing stats, go to: www.sherpastore.com/email-benchmark.html?8966.
© MarketingSherpa, Inc. 2007
Other articles by Anne Holland: