Kath Pay: Use Email Testing Insights Across Other Digital Marketing Channels
We already know that email can form the hub of your digital marketing program, with the email address housing all of your information about each customer in your database. Now, I want you to think how email testing can also drive your multichannel testing program to gain insights across your entire customer database.
Think about it for a moment. Your email database is probably the best cross-section of customers that you have. We've been talking for years about why it's important to knock down the silos that separate your email, web, search, social and offline marketing channels. This is an excellent way to take advantage of all that marketing fresh air.
It doesn't mean, however, that you can apply every insight you learn from your email tests uniformly across every channel. What you might learn instead are the differences among customers who find you and engage with your brand through multiple touchpoints – websites, search ads and landing pages, social media, even remarketing.
Why start with email?
Besides having a ready-made audience in your permission-based email database, here are four more reasons:
- Email testing is usually faster and less expensive than other forms of testing, especially web A/B or multivariate testing.
- You're testing your target market – prospects, converted, loyal customers and lost customers.
- You can get results within minutes instead of having to wait days, weeks or even months while you generate a reliable sample size.
- Many ESPs build in testing capability into their platform, so the technology is likely already at hand. You just need to plug in a few variables and get going.
Big bonus: By using email as one of the primary channels to test and gain insights on your target market, you can increase your testing budget and resources. That's because your management and other marketing teams will see email as essential to assisting other channels, not just converting customers (which we already know it’s awesome at).
What can you learn from email testing?
Testing helps you learn what resonates with your customers, understand what they're doing now and predict what they'll do in the future.
Testing is a standard component of good marketing. Still, many marketers have a hard time justifying the time and money they spend on it, especially fearing potential revenue lost during the testing period. If they test at all, it's occasional and ad hoc, not strategically planned and with no method for learning from results over time.
Additionally, more often than not, marketers perform tests only to learn immediate results ("Which version won: A or B?"). You'll see the greatest benefit from testing when you seek long-term valuable insights that you can share across channels to drive the business objectives that are common to all channels.
This kind of testing can help you identify differences between new customers and those who have been in your database for a year or more. For example: What could you learn about your prospects' motivations within email that you could use in your PPC, social media or banner ads?
Or, what offers or copy styles appeal to lapsing customers or could even bring back customers you thought you had lost? This information could inform your remarketing ads in social media.
This doesn't mean you have to discard your present web or search testing programs. Rather, you apply what you've learned in email to refine your other testing programs, making them more efficient and useful.
Applying insights across channels: an example
Suppose your email tests show that your first-time buyers respond more enthusiastically to free shipping without a purchase limit, but your loyal customers – those who bought three or more times in 12 months or who belong to your loyalty club – prefer VIP access and exclusive offers.
Now, apply what you've learned to your website copy and organization, to your search keywords, PPC campaigns and related landing pages, and in ads and banners you run on third-party sites in remarketing or network campaigns.
5 email hypotheses to experiment with in other channels
Below are five useful email testing hypotheses that you can apply the results to other channels, including your homepage, landing pages, products pages, search, PPC ads, banner ads and social media.
- Emotional-language question in subject line will generate more sales than a directive statement.
- Emotional-language CTA will generate more sales than a pragmatic CTA.
- Double loyalty points will generate more sales than 15% loyalty points.
- Three items showing in the "You might also like" dynamic pod will generate more sales than five items.
- Emotive image of person smiling and wearing outfit will generate more sales than image displaying outfit laid out.
The result can be applied to headlines on the website and blogs, PPC ads, banner ads, etc. It also gives us a wonderful insight for further testing to see whether emotional copy (not just headlines) is more effective than directive statements.
Besides applying this learning to call-to-actions on your website, blogs and emails, you also can test the concept that emotion is a better motivator across other channels.
What a fantastic discovery this would be! Once assured that this was a consistent result across multiple email tests, you could apply this finding to your loyalty programs.
Rather than waiting months to determine the results of this via website testing, you will see results much sooner and apply them to your product pages, banner ads, retargeting ads, cart abandonment emails and trans-promo emails.
Again, the results of this email test can be rolled out to your homepage and product pages as well as banner ads and offline magazine ads.
Keep in mind that for all of these hypotheses, you will need to carry out multiple tests to ensure the results are not anomalies. This is their beauty. None of them are bound to any specific wording, because you are testing motivation.
Conclusion: Give it a try
As I noted previously, you don't have to abandon your present testing programs for web or search. It’s a matter of using the two in conjunction, allowing you to test some hypotheses in email and then further refining the results within your other digital channels.
Email gives you a good basic testing structure that you can build on to sharpen your insights and improve your marketing efforts bit by bit across all channels. It's another one of email's superpowers that marketers so often overlook or ignore.
Ultimately, it's another reason why investing both time and money in email pays off across your entire marketing program.