How to Design a Simple Email Marketing Study

If you’re curious about how some aspect of your email marketing campaign is working, perhaps it’s time you conducted some research.  Looking at your reports will give you a great deal of valuable information, but it will take some conscious effort on your part to really isolate any given factor.

What you might study:  Some of the marketing aspects that can be put under the microscope are subject lines, calls to action, sending times and days, email format.

How to design a simple study: The most important part of designing your study is isolating the aspect you want to examine. This is done by keeping all other details the same while you change the aspect of interest. Next you’ll want to line up the variables involved in your study. You’ll need to manipulate your email marketing campaign in such a way that you have a few examples of each change.  This will help to rule out coincidences.  Finally, lay out a way to look at your results. The easiest way to do this will be to categorize your efforts and compare opens, clicks, shares, social media comments, etc.

For example:  Let’s say that Bug Company sells bug specimens and bug-collecting accoutrement. Bug Company wants to know whether informational, sales, or product-related subject lines are most effective at engaging their subscribers.

1. Bug Company is studying subject lines.  This means that they will be making a concerted effort to keep everything else the same. During this period of time they will not make changes to their sending times, newsletter layout, or the format of their call to action.

2.  Bug Company will next choose their timeline. Over a period of 12 weeks, Bug Company will send 6 newsletters. They will send two with informational subject lines, two with sales subject lines, and two with product-related subject lines.

3.  Once these newsletters are sent out, Bug Company will draw up a comparative spreadsheet showing all customer activity relating to their newsletter.  Not only will the learn which types of subject lines most interest their readers, they will also see what type of interaction follows from these newsletters.  It may be that while they see an encouraging increase in sales with the subject line “Half-off all Lepidoptera with any purchase of mounting pins;” that they also saw a significant amount of social media activity and lots of forwards with the subject line “Incredible new arachnid discovered in England.”

4.  Interpreting the data is the most important part of any study.  Bug Company would be ill-advised to look only at the increase in sales as significant.  Obviously there is a component of their readership that is excited about bug news and information and even more importantly, that readership has a social circle that it shares interesting material with. That is a great opportunity to gain exposure, readers, and credibility. Bug Company now knows that both promotional (sales) emails and news/informational emails are of great interest to their readership.  Since the responses to product-specific subject lines that weren’t sales oriented were minimal (according to my made-up data), Bug Company can now drop these and focus on more effective tactics.