A Simple Strategy for Running an Email Marketing Test

first_imgAs a busy organization, it’s rare that you have time to even think about testing your nonprofit email marketing. You’re focused on getting your newsletter or announcement out the door so you can get back to what you do best.But what if running an email marketing test didn’t need to take a ton of time? What if, instead, it could fit in with the work you’re already doing and still provide the insight you need to improve your results?It starts with understanding what you want to test.Focus on testing one thing at a time. If you test more than one element in the same email, it is challenging (and sometimes impossible) to determine exactly what influenced the response.Here are some easy and telling tests to start with:Subject lines: Create two different subject lines for the same email communication. For example, if you’re planning a fundraising event, you may want to test if adding the event date or name to the subject line influences open rates.Long versus short copy: Create a shorter version of your newsletter with teasers and links to your website or blog and another that includes more content within the design of your email.Experiment with CTAs: The call to action (CTA), is one of the most important parts of any email. To help perfect your CTAs and see what’s working, you can test different copy and even experiment with different buttons within your email.Other tests could include the time of day or day of the week you send, with an image or without, and the placement of a CTA button or link.Now, decide how you’ll measure your results. For subject lines, your most effective metric will be open rates. This will tell you how many people saw your email in their inbox and took the next step to open it.For tests within the copy of your email, focus on clicks. This will tell you how many people not only opened it, but who also viewed your content and took some action within the email.Think about what you’re trying to learn. If your goal is to find out how the length of your email or the type of content you include influences donations or registrations, you’ll want to track donations and compare them with previous results. If you’re driving traffic to your website or blog, you can use a tool like Google Analytics to track referral traffic to your site.Once you know what you want to test and how you’ll measure your results, now you can put the test in motion. When it comes to who you’ll send your test to, you have two options: You can either split your entire nonprofit email list in half and send one version to each, or take a random sample and do a pre-test.A pre-test is an excellent way to find out what works before sending an email to your entire list. This knowledge can greatly improve your overall response rate. It also protects you from sending a poor performing email test to a large portion of your list and wasting your efforts. To pre-test, choose a random sampling of 100 people from your master nonprofit email list, then split that group in half and send each half one of the two test campaigns.Once you have everything ready, send your test emails. The great thing about email is that you get your results quickly. Within a 24- to 48-hour period, you’ll know which email communication got a better result. (It takes weeks when testing with direct mail!)Declare your winner, send that email to the remaining members of your list, and watch the results come in.It’s really that simple.Testing your nonprofit email marketing is about listening to your audience—something nonprofits know better than anyone! Let their actions tell you what’s working, what’s not, and what you could be doing differently. This will not only help improve your email marketing but will let you better connect with the people who matter most to your organization and attract more donors, supporters, and volunteers.As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan Pinkham helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.last_img

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