I sometimes feel I do too much critiquing and too little suggesting. Like, somehow, I’m the 400 pound, mullet-sporting guy on his 3rd beer at the baseball game yelling at the 2nd baseman to hustle. So, every once in a while on a Wednesday I’ll try to balance the scales a bit and put my own ideas up for display, analysis, and critique. (view all ‘WID’ posts).
Nearly every email program available has a simple tool built right into the interface that let’s marketers, with just a few clicks, setup a split test for their messages. Unfortunately, they are rarely used while standard messages templates are chosen instead. In my mind this habit is completely backwards. Let me explain.
It’s Not an Email, It’s an Experiment
Instead of thinking about your next email as simply a message, I want you to think of it as an experiment. Beforee reate your initial copy like you planned, take a step back, put on your white lab coat, and ask yourself which element you are least convinced will be successful at getting people to open or click.
- Is it a specific word or phrase you used in the subject line?
- Is it the “book now” button you used in the copy?
- Is it the length or the email or a paragraph you’re not sure you really need?
- Is it the header image?
Every time you have an email you are ready to send, ask yourself that question and tweak one thing. Don’t revamp the entire email, think of it in terms of a question, and learn one lesson: if I use this subject line instead of that, will I get more clicks? That’s measureable and will teach you one valuable lesson for the future.
I wouldn’t just do this on some emails, I would split test each and every email I send.
Fast forward six months. You’ve now sent a couple dozen emails, each one split tested, and have identified 12 behaviors that are specific to your guests. In just a short period of time, you could learn…
- …whether they prefer long email copy or short.
- …whether they prefer the word corduroy or groomer
- …whether listing the actual lower price or the size of a discount gets more clicks
- …whether deal works better than discount in email subject lines
- …whether a weekend email sent on Tuesday or Wednesday gets more action
- …whether deals or beer or wine at the bar are more relevant
- …whether a “family getaway” or “family vacation” leads to more opens
See what I’m getting at? Lots of small lessons add up with five minutes of extra work every time you send an email. You don’t have to wait until someone else publishes an article to learn what you’d like, you can ask yourself a simple guest-behavior question and have a statistically significant finding just by copying and pasting your email copy into a B-version and tweaking one element.
One Last Thing
As you learn these lessons, write them down. You may not work at that resort forever, but make a log of what you are learning for your own reference and for those that come behind you. When you learn something unique and valuable about your guests, make sure someone doesn’t have to relearn that lesson again sometime down the road.
That’s what I’d do…
Published June 6th, 2012 by Gregg Blanchard.