Email Marketing: Testing Your Emails

We’re going to focus on how to run tests on you marketing emails to get results that you can measure. Every email test you run should have a strong purpose behind it. Each time you decide to test an email, ask yourself the following questions:

“Why am I running this test, and what am I hoping to get out of it?” By testing your emails, you’re focusing your email marketing efforts around data-driven analysis, which gives you the next steps for improving the next send.

Let’s explore how to test your emails to identify the right next steps to continue to send emails that will provide value to your contacts. Before diving into the steps you’re going to be using, Let’s first talk about A/B testing. What is it, and how can you use it to test your marketing emails? A/B testing is the inbound answer to a controlled experiment. It’s defined as a method of comparing two versions of such as a web page, an app, or an email to determine which one performs better.

In this case, we’re comparing two versions of an email. You could use an A/B test to pinpoint specific variations of your email and focus on how to improve that asset. Which allows you to focus on on data-driven analysis instead of a guessing game.

Most email marketing tools will have a specific feature that allows you to A/B test assets, but you can also run an A/B test on your own, without these tools. An A/B test allows you to test variations of your email, alongside one another.

Then you can review the results to see which one performed better to get the data to back up future decisions on your email sends. Now that you have an idea of what A/B testing is, let’s move on to the steps you’ll take to run tests on your marketing emails. The first step is to define the goal and purpose of your test.

Second, evaluate the segment of recipients you’re sending to, third, design your test, and lastly, review and start your test. These are your steps to get you started on developing tests for your marketing emails. You will analyze and report on these results as well but first we need to focus on creating the tests. When you’re running a test on an email, all you want to focus on is one element that you are testing: the subject line, the body content, or the CTA you are using. Think of the tests you are running as experiments where you want a control and a variable. With this is mind, you can take your first step in developing the test for your marketing emails.

The first step in any inbound strategy is defining the purpose for doing something. If you’re testing just to test, you won’t discover results that give you actionable steps to help you improve. While testing your marketing emails consistently will help you improve over time, keep in mind that doing something just to do something will not provide valuable results nor provide value to those receiving your emails.

Take a look at how your emails are performing and decide what you want to improve. Maybe a specific type of email you’re sending is not yielding the results you want. Or maybe you’re going through a rebranding and want to test different colors or logos. Whatever it is, make sure you have a purpose before setting out to run a test.

When setting this goal for your email test, you’re also preparing to design your email test later on. Take for example, looking at the email elements you can test. Which elements can affect open rates? It could be a few things, such as the number of emails you send to a list, the subject line, and the preview text. And which elements can affect clickthrough rates? The email body copy, the body design/layout, the body images, the CTA, and email signature.

These elements can give you a starting point for focusing your goal and purpose. From here, you can see what’s working well and what’s not to draft a hypothesis of what you want to test and thus improve. Now that you have a goal and purpose for your test, you’ll need to evaluate the segment of recipients you’re sending to.

You can’t run an A/B test on your email unless it goes to someone — and when you’re testing an email, you need a minimum amount of recipients to make the test conclusive.

This is where statistical significance comes in. Testing significance involves doing some math to determine the number of people you want on your email list in order to run a test. If you send an email to five people to try and test a new subject line.

You might send 3 out of those 5 people the updated subject line and while they might all love it you won’t be able to confidently say that the rest of your contacts will.

You need more people for the results to be statistically significant. So how do you know how many people to run a test with? HubSpot’s A/B testing tool for example requires you to have at least 1,000 contacts on your list to run a test. This is the total number of contacts you wish to send a specific email to.

To run your test you will need to determine a percentage or a sample size from that 1,000 contacts to send your variations or versions of email to. You will have your Version A which can be your control, the typical email you would send and then you have your Version B the one in which has a variation made to. Whether this is a change to your subject line, body text, or other element.

If you are testing under a 1,000 contacts you can run a 50/50 test for your email send. Where 50% get Version A and the other 50% get Version B. Let’s say though you do have a 1,000 or more contacts that you want to send to. You will now need to determine the sample size that will yield conclusive results.

If you are using a tool like HubSpot then the tool can help make this calculation for you. You will select the percentage you wish to send each variation and the number will be set. But you can also determine that sample size using a significance test calculator. This will give you the number for each sample size that will yield conclusive results.

This calculator will help you determine the number of people that will receive each version of the email: the control and the variation. Let’s walk through an example together.

You can see here on this sample size calculator there are a few different options you will need to fill out: the confidence level, interval and the population. And then finally it will produce a samle size. Let’s begin with the population. The population is the total number of contacts, you want to send your email to.

For example, 1,000 contacts. You can get an estimate of this number by looking at the last four to five emails you have send and how many people you sent it to. Once you have your population you will have to set a confidence interval.

You might have heard this called “margin of error.” Lots of surveys use this. This is the range of results you can expect once the test has run with the full population. And lastly, you need to look at the confidence level. This tells you how sure you can be that your sample results lie within the confidence interval. The lower the percentage, the less sure you can be about the results. The higher the percentage, the more people you’ll need in your sample size to test.

For example in HubSpot, the A/B testing tool uses the 85% confidence level to determine a winner. In a tool like this, you can choose 95% as a base. Now let’s apply these values to see what we get. We have our list of 1,000 contacts and we want to be 95% confident our winning email version falls within a 5-point interval of our population metrics.

Here’s what we’d put in the tool: Population: 1,000 Confidence Level: 95% Confidence Interval: 5 And this would produce a sample size of 278. This would mean that 278 people get Version A and another 278 get Version B. Each segment would receive one of these versions.

Then you would be able to see which version performed better. For example, Version B with your variation and then send that version to the rest of the contacts from your original list who did not receive a variation. An A/B testing tool can help you do this automatically, but you can also implement your A/B test by creating different segments once you’ll know which of the sample sizes you’ll need.

Now that you know the purpose and the goal of your email test, and you know the number of recipients you need to make your test produce results, you can move on to designing the actual test. The design will relate heavily to your purpose or goal. Like other aspects of your inbound strategy, your goal is tied directly to the content, purpose, or outcome you’re producing.

When you set your goal, you identified areas in your email that need improving. Now it’s time to take that a step further and figure out ways to improve them. An important aspect of testing is to make sure what you’re proposing is feasible. If you don’t want anyone to unsubscribe from your emails, don’t send ANY emails! Great experiment right?

Not so much. When you’re hypothesizing, be creative but also keep your ideas within the boundaries of reality. You want to explore tests that will provide long-term results for your business. Let’s look at an example of a hypothesis and what type of test you might design. In this example, when setting the purpose of your test, let’s say you identified that your newsletter emails are not getting the open rates you’d like and you want want to find a solution by running a test to see how you can improve them.

Your goal is to improve email newsletter open rates from 11% to 15% during a business quarter. Your hypothesis is that the subject line contains characters and words that are triggering the recipients’ spam filters.

To test this hypothesis, you can design a test to adjust the subject lines to avoid exclamation marks and percentage signs and remove sales-y words like “free” and “discount.” You want to aim to closely align the subject line with what the email contains.

And you’ll test if applying these best practices improves your open rate. Another hypothesis and solution for your low open rates is: You send too many emails, so your contacts are less compelled to open them. And you can design a test to try to reduce your email frequency for at least one month and observe if email open rates improve.

This is how you can tie your goal to the design of your test to start to measure and improve your email sends. Lastly, you’ll review and start the test. This is an important step because it means deciding how long you want to run your test for.

There is no magic number, no perfect time of the week or even day of the month to run your tests, but you want to run your test long enough to make sure enough of your contacts have had time to interact with the content. Some email A/B testing tools will have you set a timeframe for the test, and at the end of that time period, the tool will choose a winning email to send to the rest of the contacts.

This is why timing can be so important. Your A/B test might not be significant after an hour or even after 24 hours. To decide on this timeframe, you can take a look at your past performance (remember, you want to focus on data-driven analysis, not guesswork).

One of the most common mistakes people make is ending a test too soon. And this doesn’t just mean the one A/B test. Make sure you’re testing many emails to start to see how things are trending before making an overall change to the way you send email. Maybe you choose to test a few different elements over multiple email sends and multiple months. Analyzing these metrics will help you decide on what you want to adjust for the time being.

But for a single email send, the time is still important. Take a look at past email opens and clicks and see where things started to drop off. For example, what percentage of total clicks did your email get during its first day? If you found that it got 70% of clicks in the first 24 hours, and then 5% each day after that, it’d make sense to cap your email A/B testing timing window to 24 hours, because it wouldn’t be worth delaying your results just to gather a little bit of extra data.

If you use an email platform that has an A/B testing tool then it will determine a statistically significant winner. If not, you can determine the winner yourself by calculating the conversion rates of the two types of emails. But what happens if your test fails? What if neither version performs better than the other or it’s too close to actually determine significance? If neither variation produced statistically significant results, your test was inconclusive.

That is okay! This is why testing is important. Not every test will produce results for you to take action on immediately. This might mean adjusting your goal or looking at the numbers you want to move. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to test and test again. After all, repeated efforts can only help you improve. This where you can start to see how these tests are performing.

You might decide to run the test multiple times to determine what you want to change. These are the steps for outlining the test you want to run on you marketing emails: Define the goal and purpose of your test, evaluate the segment of recipients you’re sending to, designing your test, and review and start your test.

Testing is great way to see how your contacts are engaging or not engaging with your marketing emails, and by following these steps, you’ll continue to prove your ability to do data-driven analysis for your business. .

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Email Marketing: Taking Control of Email Deliverability

Hey there I’m Evan Murphy, Email Deliverability Tech Lead and Assistant Postmaster with HubSpot. How can you take control with an email deliverability strategy for your business? What are the important factors you’ll need to consider to set yourself up for success? We’re going to break down an email deliverability strategy into two key parts: first, what you can do before you the send, and second, what you can do after the send. First let’s dig into what you can do for email deliverability before you hit send on an email.

getresponse university

Before you hit send, you want to do a few things: First, collect consent, second, create contact lists, and third, analyze engagement. The first is collecting consent for you and your business. In the email world, consent can be defined as any time you collect verifiable permission from an email recipient to send them email. Your email recipients must take an action, like filling out a form and giving consent, to grant consent to you and your business. By collecting verifiable permission from your contacts, you’re building a good foundation for your email deliverability strategy and, in turn, building the trust you need to create lasting relationships with your contacts.

For example, if you bought a list or enriched one to obtain new email addresses, you do not have permission to send emails to them. You cannot purchase consent or permission. Consent must be given freely by the contact to your business. Purchasing a list is just not an option when it comes to building trust and obtaining consent from your contacts.

Just don’t do this. Instead, collect consent where your contacts are freely giving it to your business. Asking your website visitors to fill out a form, for example, is a great way to obtain consent from them. Next up, we’re going to look at how to create contact lists and the different lenses through which you can analyze the contacts you’re building trust with.

This means looking at your contact lists with three things in mind: Sources, permissions, and expectations. The first is the source. Before sending an email to your contact list, you need to take a close look at how folks actually got onto that list. What is their source? What action did they take to get onto your list? Was it traffic being driven from your blog or even pillar pages? Or have they been in your CRM for a while and maybe not engaged? The source of your contacts helps you determine if you should be sending to them.

If you can’t determine their source then it might indicate you won’t have permission to send them, email which brings us to our next step: permissions. Do you, or does someone at your company, actually have permission to send to the contacts on the list? What type of permission did your contacts give you? Did you actually ask them for permission to send marketing email to them? Having permission is the key to building trust, because you’re being straightforward and honest with the people you are emailing. You are asking for permission, not assuming it. Under the General Data Protection Regulation, this permission and consent is the key to being compliant but also to developing trust that will earn you the right to process and communicate people’s information.

Think about how and where you ask for permission. Where can someone tell you that they want to receive your emails and decide on the type of emails they wish to receive? Where are you giving them those options? This could be on the forms your contacts fill out, or by calling out the preferences link in the footer of your emails so they can update their email preferences at any time. How you’re asking for permission and how you’re logging that permission will be your fuel to continually building and maintaining trust and the permission to send to your contacts.

If you buy a list, you should assume you’re not the only one who bought those contacts. As a result, you’re often grouped together with other senders buying lists. Can you guess where you’re all being grouped together? The junk folder. Any email marketing vendor worth their salt will not allow you to send to a purchased list.

For example, HubSpot has it described in our Acceptable Use Policy. And we are are not alone. Many other email marketing vendors have similarly documented this in their policies. Keep in mind that your email marketing strategy is a long game, and you and your business are worth it.

Don’t throw away the reputation that you are building by chasing after easy customers: they don’t exist. So before sending an email, ask yourself: “Do I feel good about the source of this list?” If someone complained directly to you and they said, “Hey, stop spamming me!” would you feel confident explaining how they provided consent to your company? This is where verifiable consent becomes extremely important. Would they believe your reasoning? Would your answer violate the terms of service of your email service provider? If your answers make you feel uncertain, the best practice is to verify their consent, so there’s no question that you have permission.

Once you know the source of your email list and then you have permission from your contacts, there’s one last piece that you will need to have before thinking about pressing send. This is expectations. What expectation was set about the content these contacts would receive or the frequency in which they would receive it? Do the people on your list expect you to email them? Were you clear about the content you would be sending and the frequency in which you would send when they granted you permission? Have you taken extra care to remind them who you are, why they are getting this message, and when they granted you permission? When you’re trying to figure out why your emails aren’t doing as well as they used to — why they aren’t doing as well as you want them to, or as well as your boss expects them to — there’s no room to settle.

Hold yourself and your emails to a higher standard. There is nothing more frustrating than getting an email in your inbox that makes you feel caught off-guard or confused about why you’re receiving it in the first place. This is why expectations is an important lense through which to look at your contact lists. For example, when reviewing your email performance metrics, you might determine that when an email send doesn’t perform well, it might be because the content doesn’t align with what they signed up for, or perhaps they’re being sent more email than they expected. Setting expectations up front is a good place to start. Take a look at the frequency and the value that your contacts are expecting. This is where your content strategy will help you build trust and provide lasting value.

Focus on sending content that your contacts expect and that will also provide value to them. Let’s look at one great example of how a company took their learnings from poor email deliverability and created actionable steps to win back the inbox. Natera is focused on providing a healthy experience for people during pregnancy. After experiencing disappointing open and click rates, Natera analyzed what was happening on their email sends and set out with a new attitude in mind: Helping their community have the healthiest pregnancies possible.

Natera had a “problem” with spam, which actually led to a positive outcome. In their case, this meant a directional change in Natera’s marketing strategy. They used a multi-step process to change the way they send email, including first, focusing on a segment or source instead of the entire database. Second, not sending to those who were no longer interested in their emails, which is observing permissions and respecting that these people no longer wanted mail. Third, altering the language in the content itself, which is adjusting their content strategy to better meet the content and frequency expectations of their subscribers. Fourth, cleaning and improving contact lists. Fifth, shifting to user-focused content that builds relationships and trust. And finally, educating internal teams on how everyone should be focused on this strategy. Here’s a quote directly from Natera on winning back the inbox: “The goal is to build trust with customers and provide them with useful information they couldn’t get anywhere else.

The development of highly personalized nurture campaigns will help you serve up helpful, relevant content based on where the customer is in their personal journey.” These are the three ways that you want to evaluate your email list through: sources, permissions, and expectations. And finally, the third thing you want to do before you hit send on an email is to analyze email engagement. Trust is fundamental to any relationship, and your company’s relationship with your contacts is no different. When evaluating how your emails are performing, you’ll analyze how your contacts are engaging with you.

This comes down to how much they’re trusting you and how much you’re respecting that trust. When viewing the post-send metrics of your emails, you’ll see the engagement, the opens, the clicks and seeing how they’ve performed. These are the elements that you will want to look at and explore before pressing send on an email: first, collecting consent Second, creating contact lists, and third, analyzing engagement. Now that you know what you want to do before pressing send, it’s time to focus on what happens after.

How are your emails performing, and how can you continually take control of your email deliverability strategy to be growing your business through email? After you send an email, you need to look at the signals that your contacts are giving you. What happened during the send that you can learn from? Your post-send metrics fall into two buckets: positive engagement and negative engagement. In positive engagement, you’ll track opens, clicks and conversations started. You see this information in your post-send details on your email sends. Are people replying to your emails? Are they opening or clicking? In negative engagement, you’ll track the contacts who bounced, contacts who churned, and other list atrophy, like perhaps spam reports.

Let’s look at each of these metrics and what you can learn about how your email performed. In positive engagement, you’ll see how your email continued to build relationships with people. The metrics here will tell you that the email you sent not only sparked someone’s interest to open but they then took action on that email with a click. This is an example of what happens when you send to a list of people whose contact sources are verifiable, who you had permission to send to, and above all, who expected to receive the email. This is the dream. This is what you are striving for each time you hit send. You are engaging in a conversation with someone and that’s providing value to them. By paying attention to the trends you’re seeing here, you’ll understand how well you’re engaging with people and what you can keep doing to engage with them.

Now let’s look at the negative engagement. These are the metrics that might not make you break out into a smile but are equally as important. This is the bucket where you will learn the most about your contacts and what you can do to improve your email deliverability strategy. When looking at this bucket, you want to focus on what the contacts who have churned, unsubscribed, or essentially decided they no longer want to communicate with you have in common. You can break down what they have in common by focusing on a few things: source, the opt-in status, and then aligning around expectations. This means essentially taking the part of the before-send framework and applying it again: sources, permissions, and expectations. The goal of applying the framework is to identify which part of your strategy to prioritize based on where you’re seeing a trend. Let’s walk through how you will define what they have in common and the next steps you can take from what you have learned about their commonality. The first step is looking at the whole group of contacts that you send the email to and defining the origin of these contacts.

Where did they come from? Was it a tradeshow, a form submission, or even an imported list from another event? You’re looking to see if the contacts’ source created a negative reaction to the email. Looking at the source will lead you to confirming what type of opt-in, you had on them. When we look at opt-in, there are three levels: opt-in, opt-out, and neutral. When someone opts-in, they are taking an action saying yes you can communicate with me and process my data. This means you have opt-in. You can take it a step further and use a double-opt in mechanism to confirm that opt-in action and put the additional confirmation behind it. However, there is also opt-out, where someone is saying the opposite of this. They do not wish to receive emails from you. Or there’s a third neutral status where they have not taken an action to confirm or deny their opt-in.

Answering these types of questions will give you a better idea of what occured on the email. Then you can take this relationship one step further by aligning with what they expected to receive from you and your business. This means sending them targeted and relevant information. It’s one thing to provide your contacts with an email that you have permission to send them, but sending what they expect to receive and thus what provides value will be where your relationship with them can really grow. Take, for example, when you sign up for a monthly blog update but start receiving emails on a weekly or even a daily basis. It’s not what you expected, and you can lose trust in the business that is sending these emails to you.

Expectations can be a powerful thing, and when set properly, they can help you grow your business. Now when looking at this bucket of the individuals that didn’t engage with you, you can focus on what they have in common. Did you find the source was not verifiable, or did you not collect permission to contact these people? Or maybe they had not expected this email in their inbox. The common threads will help you understand the areas you need to focus on moving forward, then, your next steps are applying what you learned to the next email send, to the next set of contacts, and with a renewed sense of building trust. This is how you can take control of an email deliverability strategy for your business and take actionable steps to improve on each email you send.


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Email Marketing: Adapting Your Email Strategy for 2020

(upbeat music) Why is email marketing important? Email marketing is still a very, very big part of marketing strategies for our customers and as such, customers need to know how to use email marketing effectively so that they can better reach out to their leads, to their contacts, to their customers, and have really good inbound strategy. It gets in front of our audience through a more personal way than just our website. So they get an email in their inbox and it can be personalized and they can read it and it’s directed towards them so it’s kinda like an email from someone you care about.

Email marketing remains one of the very best tools for any digital marketing strategy. Email marketing is really important to our prospects, our customers, as well because it helps them communicate in a large scale. It helps them really customize their communications so it’s not just like hey, I’m a business here to ask you for your money, it’s more so hey, I’m a business owner who really cares about the services.

I provide and how I can customize it to your use case. Email marketing is one of the number one tools that we as marketers can use to communicate with our leads and potential customers. Without email marketing, there’s no way to reach out to our contacts, our customers in a large scalable way.

What is the purpose or connection of email marketing and your overall inbound strategy? I think the most important role of email as it relates to inbound is to promote that good content that you’re creating through inbound. So I think the most important purpose of email is for your customer to know that you’re there. Within the inbound, email marketing can serve I found primarily two great purposes.

The aforementioned nurturing leads to become actual customers or purchasers of your product or service but beyond that, you can actually use email to nurture those customers or members of an organization to become an actual promoter of the business, your biggest fans.

Email marketing’s all about building a relationship with your leads and your potential customers. So in the context of inbound marketing, once we’ve generated those leads we want to use email to start to build a relationship with them and continue to provide value.

The purpose of email marking with inbound marketing is inbound marketing helps me as a business owner bring in more traffic whether that’s net new traffic, existing customers, maybe perspective customers, and they get to explore my website and gather information throughout their buyer’s journey.

And my email marketing helps them gain a little bit more insights or information that they might have missed on my website at a time that might be right for them but they need an extra push to go down their buyer’s journey so that we can help them.

Email marketing is important for you and your business. But why? I’m sure we’ve all experienced or been victims to bad email marketing. I would say knowing the foundations of an email marketing or email marketing in general is going to prevent a lot of the misuse and really misunderstanding that is so prevalent right now.

And contrarily, just by having those foundations under your belt, it’s actually going to allow you to drive the most value both for yourself as well as the people that you’re marketing to. If you’re like me, you get a ton of spam to your inbox every single day.

And we as marketers have a responsibility to try and cut down on that. So we as marketers, if we can learn those fundamentals of email and make sure that we truly understand what we should be doing and make sure that we get the right email to the right person at the right time, we can make sure that our email programs are providing value as opposed to interrupting people’s day.

There’s so many emails that are sent every single day. Think about when you’re checking your phone and you see your little bubble of notifications of emails to check and if you’re not matching your website conversations to your email conversations at a time that’s right for the user that’s receiving them, they could simply unsubscribe and you’ve lost that engaged interest.

The foundations of email marketing, really where you need to start whenever you’re thinking about writing an email. So if you know the foundations of why you’re writing an email in the first place, it’s really gonna help you decide how you want to write our your messaging. Without any foundation, without any backbone to the email you’re crafting up, there’s really no reason or no why behind the email you’re sending.

But where should you begin to work on your strategy for email marketing? The best place to start is figuring out your goal or why you’re doing it. I would start with HubSpot Academy. The email marketing certification and the courses therein are some of the best that I’ve ever seen in terms of on demand or online training. There’s a lot of ways you could start with email marketing.

I guess first is the why behind email marketing. I think you should why start with email marketing because you’re at a point in your business where you need to reach out to more people with a personalized message at the right time. While our world today continues to evolve and new products and services appear daily, there are many ways to have conversations with your visitors, leads, and customers.

Email marketing continues to be one of the practices that continually fuels and delivers ROI for your business.

And when it’s used properly in collaboration with all of your other conversation tools you can build trust. By creating a great email marketing strategy, you’re creating a sustainable, helpful, and human experience to develop relationships with your customers and help them grow. Get started and get certified in email marketing today. (upbeat music) .

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