December 7, 2009

Additional Tips to Test to Lift Subscriber Engagement - Be a Data Investigator: Part 3

by Kelly Lorenz, Marketing Strategist at Bronto

Part 1: Be a Data Whisperer: How to Analyze Your Message Reports
Part 2: Tips to Test to Lift Subscriber Engagement

In this third and final post in the series, I will cover some additional tips to consider testing to lift subscriber engagement and potentially breathe new life into your email marketing program.

Consider also testing...

  • Including multiple colors/styles for products - Is variety the "spice of life"? Does showing multiple options for products help increase conversions? Do your subscribers appreciate options?

    Sephora Multiple Colors
  • Having famous people endorsing your product - Does it make sense for your brand? Do your subscribers respond to celebrity endorsements? Who is the right person to represent your brand and hit your target with the right message?

    Piperlime Celebrity Endorsement
  • Product shots versus models - Is your product the type where subscribers have to see it "in action"? Would more subscribers convert on an email where an attractive model is wearing or displaying your product or does the model detract from the product? There have also been studies around models where they are looking out at the audience versus looking at the copy and the impact on response; so be cognizant and conduct some tests to see which creates the most draw.

    Product

    Model
  • The number of products featured - You will want to test not only the monetary value of the products featured, as I mentioned in the last post, but also the number of products included. Does including a large number of products in emails, like Costco, contribute or scalp from your bottom line?  What is the incremental impact on clicks and sales for each additional product featured?
  • Reply back incentives - Asking subscribers to reply back to your email marketing campaigns could have a positive impact on your deliverability and puts meat into the belief that email should be a two-way communication vehicle. Would incenting subscribers to reply to your emails boost both deliverability and engagement? Remember, if you are going to ask subscribers to reply, provide a valid reply-to address and a live person reading the responses and replying back where necessary.
  • The power of free - Does adding something free to the offer increase clicks and conversions? Are rebates or free gifts with purchase "deal closers"? Does adding free to the mix help you stand out from the crowd? Consider testing email exclusive free deals as well to see if that lifts both sign-ups and/or subscriber engagement.

    Cooking.com Free Gift with Purchase
  • Free shipping offers - Do free shipping offers hold any appeal with your audience? If we are to believe that free shipping is a necessity or that it's more appealing than a dollar discount, the answer is: likely. Would attaching a minimum order requirement like Coach does below impede sales or increase the average order size? If you choose this route, consider capping above your current average order value so that you don't scalp potential sales above that threshold. Also test whether free shipping is worth a dedicated email, a la Chefs, or as a secondary message as Neiman Marcus treats the offer.

    Coach Free Shipping Cap

    Chef's Free shipping dedicated email

    Nieman Marcus free shipping second message
  • A pure copy-based email versus images/product shots - Could copy-based content produce more sales than utilizing images for promotional emails? Does copy convey your message better than visuals? Do complicated promotions like the Gap example below benefit from a more simplistic layout?

    GAP text only email
  • Call to action placement in email - Expanding on my point in the previous post regarding calls to action, also consider testing the placement within the marketing message. Many marketers include at least a call to action below the fold, but how many include one or more above the fold (definition of "above the fold")? Would putting a call to action in the preheader space increase click-throughs, and ultimately, conversions? Think about your audience and determine if your brand advocates could benefit from calls to action near the top of your emails so they can take immediate action.

    Lands End CTA placement in email

    Williams Sonoma CTA placement in email
  • Informational versus sales content - Does the soft sell approach create higher short- and long-term results? Are you looking to position your company as the expert in your industry? Would your subscribers benefit from a more informational email focused on education instead of a hard sale? How could you tie in informational content back to your email marketing goals and ultimately convert subscribers to loyal customers? Would a video demonstration of products help push subscribers to convert?

    Town and Country informational email

    cooking.com video
  • Interactive elements - Often lumped in with user-generated content like the REI example below, would adding engaging and interactive elements into your email marketing boost engagement and long-term value with subscribers? Does a scavenger hunt, or the like, as seen in the Neiman Marcus example below increase not only time on site but also conversions? Do incentives to interact push subscribers to engage at a higher rate?

    Nieman Marcus interactive email

    REI User generated content

Ultimately, you should always be looking for ways to improve upon the status quo. With ISPs tightening down during this peak sending season and implementing engagement-based reputation, and with subscriber attention getting pulled in various directions, it's going to be vital to find new avenues to keep subscribers interacting with your brand and converting. Don't put your program on autopilot, be an innovator and continually look for ways to provide the most relevant, targeted content to your subscribers at the right time.

Cheers until next time my fellow marketers,

Kelly Lorenz Email Marketing Strategist at Bronto @KNLorenz

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Kelly Lorenz, Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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