Traditional direct marketing, whether using print media, direct mail or television, has always used testing as a prelude to a large direct marketing campaign: that is, before committing huge dollars to a large campaign, smart marketers test strategies and offers on a small, targeted audience before rolling the campaign out to the masses.
The same principles apply to e-marketing: before rolling out a campaign to a large audience, test it on a small one. Here’s how:
Search and Research
Examine your existing clients and see how that translates into potential prospects. Look at what your competitors are doing. What strategies are successful? Which ideas can you modify and apply? Are they using email blasts, social networking, relationships with key bloggers? How does their e-marketing supplement their traditional marketing?
Create a Benchmark
Traditional direct marketing always uses a control piece as the benchmark, generally with an A/B split test. The same idea works for e-marketing. For example, if you have an email list of 100,000 prospects, select every 100th prospect to create a test list of 1,000. Send the email you’re using now (this is your control, or “A”)) to 500 names, and send your proposed new email (“B”) to the other 500. Give each a unique response device, perhaps using different landing pages, to track the results. Then test the winner the same way against another concept, offer or design, and track the results again. Once you’ve found the most successful campaign, roll that out to the rest of your list.
Alexa Isn’t Just a Girl’s Name
How is your campaign affecting your web traffic? How much web traffic do your competitors receive? The free website ranking tool, Alexa.com, will provide the traffic you and your competitors are getting every day. If your email blast, for example, is designed to drive prospects to your website, you’ll see very quickly how effective it is. You can also see if your competitors are aggressively marketing by tracking their web traffic, and compare your results to theirs.
Never Stop Testing
Continue to test new campaigns and new variables against your control piece, and don’t be afraid to switch when a new campaign tests stronger. Some of the things you should vary and test are:
• Promotion offered
• Free offers
• Free Trial
• Mail Format
• Day and time of emailing
• Subject lines and body copy
• Response device (reply to email, visit website, etc.)
Timing is Everything
The time of day, in addition to which day of the week the email is sent out, plays a huge part in how successful your marketing campaign is. Take into consideration who the receiver is, at what part of the day they check their emails – morning, evening, throughout the day – and what time zone they are located in. Generally, Monday mornings are good for news digests but bad for email campaigns. Fridays are often weak days for email campaigns as well. This, of course, varies according to the product/service offered.
Tracking is Everything, Too
Track the recipients who click on a link, open your email or visit your website, as well as how many unsubscribe. Look at the number of prospects who buy (or become clients) from each email or campaign. How do their average orders vary? Is the sales cycle longer or shorter with different emails? There’s no such thing as too much tracking or analysis: those numbers are a goldmine of knowledge.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that ongoing testing is critical to your company’s success in the future. By testing your marketing campaign, you gain more time, money and experience for future projects.