How many ways do you split?

What makes you open an email? Do you do that last minute email check before you head off to bed? Maybe I’m just weird? I normally skim the sender, subject line and I have the mini-preview setting on my primary inbox……I know, I know, I should be off and counting z’s. Some subject lines are just too tempting! I’m not talking about emails for clients or colleagues (sadly, I do mostly read those even I if I don’t respond. This isn’t a confession I should be making nor is this isn’t an invitation! I do actually need to sleep sometimes!)

Split Testing

I received an email from an industry group I’m subscribed too. Well two emails, with slightly different subject lines. I’ve met the person who normally sends the eBlasts through industry events. That was a point of intrigue, although not my point. Same person, different yet similar subject lines. Why do I even care or bothering to comment? Because I ignored the first one as “bleh, I’ll add it to my read later folder, it’s an eBlast”, and the second one although mildly different I opened.

Aside from probably being a glitch in their mailing software (and I’ll get to that) this was a split test, and it worked (well in terms of making me open it, which is kinda the point!) This is cool (and yes, nerdy all at the same time) because it demonstrates a few points with email marketing:

  1. What makes you ‘tempting’? Know your audience. For me it always comes back to basics—right market, right message, right time. Call me simplistic, I really don’t care. It doesn’t matter whether it’s email marketing, social media, editorials, billboards or even packaging it is always about the giving the right audience the right message at the right time. The equation for conversion. Simple, right? Heh!
  2. Be interesting and relevant. Once you’ve got them, what else have you got to say? I opened it, read the next two lines, realised it was about nothing that I thought it was going to be about and them selling me an event in another state. At this point, I deleted it purely because I know I’m not travelling to that state when that conference is being held. Simply, know your audience. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done and traditionally it was totally easier said than done. Even in the digital world you face challenges, and it’s a question of quality verses quantity. If you’re focussing on having a relationship with your readers, or more clinically ‘database’, then ask more questions—get to know them. I like to think about it terms of would I rather have a conversation with someone I don’t know/doesn’t know me, or someone who I’m familiar with? If someone wants to get to know you, they will offer you more personal information, which leads me to…
  3. Content is still king. What else have you got to say? Is it relevant? Yes, I know I covered this in point 2. It’s that important it’s worth mentioning twice! If what you’re saying isn’t interesting, relevant and timely, they’re simply not going to read it. That goes for emails, blog posts, editorials, websites and well any ‘marketing/advertising’. It’s like having a conversation with someone about a yellow bus and they answer, yes I love red aren’t red cars pretty. It doesn’t make sense, you walk away (probably thinking they’re a crazy person). Silly example, you got the point though?
  4. So you’re not a red car, what else have you got?? So you’re talking yellow buses and they’re talking red cars. Obviously you started talking about transport or colours (I know it’s lame, I do have point, please read on). What if you had a red bus? They subscribed to your mailing list for a reason; they’re interested in what you’re saying on a level. In this current lame analogy let’s continue with the transportation and colour aspect. Stay with me here. They want a ‘car’ because it will either get them to point-to-point, or because it’s red, or a bit of both. You have a yellow bus, however are about to release a red bus. Whether you know that they’re motivated by red or they want a car to get from point-to-point aspect or would be happy with a red bus—what’s the harm is asking the questions? Again I’m being simple, they subscribed to your eBlast because there is an interest level in transport. Just because your promotion doesn’t work today, doesn’t mean they’re not going to buy next time. Why not ask?

Back to the eBlast I received. I’m interested in the organisation, topics and the context they discuss which is why I opened the email. The first subject line I read and went “oh yeah, next”, the next one I went “huh” and opened. Typically a subscriber shouldn’t get two emails, it was a probably glitch in their system. It is however a split test which is one of those funky terms to say you have ‘Version A’ and ‘Version B’ which is essence are the same however have one differentiating feature. In this context, the subject line in ‘Version A’ had limited effect while ‘Version B’ made me open it. While it didn’t make me register for the event, I did open the email which was half the mission.

Split tests are a really cool way of understanding what makes your readers tick. And while there is more rhyme and reason behind how, what, when and why, at a high level that’s how it works.

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