7 Top Email Marketing Testing Tips for Retailers

Posted by Philip Storey on 27/04/2018, 09:09
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7 top email marketing testing tips for retailers

In email marketing, especially in retail, testing should play a key role in your strategy. It's important to learn from each email campaign and use the results to optimise your future campaigns. However, too many retailers don't find the time to do it effectively. This is a huge missed opportunity and ultimately it will impact results and ultimately cost you money.

We've outlined 7 key email marketing testing tips for retailers to help you transform your campaign performance:

1. Subject line testing

Testing your email subject lines is the bare minimum you should be doing, but it's a crucial area to test, as it's the thing that will help you stand out from the inbox and get people opening your emails.

Don’t just do A/B tests though. Consider implementing A/B/C/D split tests, at least. You’ll want to test multiple subject line variations against each other. Start small and be patient. Crafting compelling email subject lines takes time to master. There's even clever AI tools like Phrasee, which help predict the kind of subject lines that will engage your audience.

Here are some of elements to test in your subject lines:

  • Mentioning free delivery
  • Inserting a discount
  • Using persuasion tactics, such as urgency (i.e. "last chance", "until midnight", "don't miss", etc)
  • Adding the element of mystery
  • Personalisation
  • Using emojis

Remember to test subject lines with and without these different tactics. And ensure you get statistical significance from your results before implementing changes. If your tests show a difference of 20% open rate versus 20.2%, for example, this is not conclusive!

2. Test the offer

It's good practice in email to testing different offer variations, to see what drives most engagement. Don't be tempted to give away too much or assume that a big product discount is the best approach to getting more conversions.

Consider different types of offers and alternative commercial propositions. Small discounts can work, especially on more specific brands or sought-after products. Whilst bigger "sitewide" discounts can be attractive to subscribers. Also, offering free delivery can prove more rewarding for shoppers than a money-off discount. Try different free delivery thresholds to increase average order value (AOV).

Mix things up and learn what works best for your audience.

3. Test long vs short emails

Remember, the sole purpose of email marketing in retail isn't just to increase conversions. It's about driving people to your website to continue their browsing journey. Let your ecommerce website user experience (UX) do the work in converting customers.

Testing email length can determine whether short, sharp emails with compelling calls to action, work better than longer, content-rich emails. Carry out an A/B/C tests on a full-length version, a half-length version and a short, postcard-like version of your email campaign. This will give you some great insights about the amount of content you should be creating for campaigns.

4. Call to action colour

The colour of your call to action might seem like an arbitrary thing to test, but in retail it really can make a big difference to conversions and sales. In fact, one major retailer saw over a 300% increase in click throughs by changing their CTA button colour from the existing brand colour to something just slightly different! 

Again, A/B/C/D test your CTA buttons with four different colours and see what works best.

5. Call to action button text

Calls to actions can have a big impact on the success of your email campaigns, so you need to ensure they're prominent and compelling. Test your CTA button text, using different language, from direct language to more playful text. Consider product relevance, seasonal relevance and continuity with brand voice and the tone of your marketing copy.

People really do react differently, that’s why they're named calls to action! Here are some common CTA phrases used in retail:

  • Book now
  • Buy now
  • Shop now
  • See more
  • See [product name] in action
  • Get inspired
  • Explore our offers
  • Get [discount amount] off now 
  • Get the style you want
  • Claim your [discount amount] now

CTAs are important prompts to encourage people to take actions, and consumers respond differently depending on the tone of these prompts.

6. Persuasion tactics

Retail marketers utilise various different persuasion tactics, from trust-based messaging, loyalty incentives and social proof, to more aggressive tactics leveraging emotions and evoking urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out). Testing different persuasion tactics may take longer to plan, but it can make a big difference to your email marketing success.

You can also use innovative technology, such as dynamic email tools, which can add live content, relevance and other persuasive features into your email templates.

Find out more about creating compelling calls to action in our free guide, How to Create Persuasive Marketing Copy and Compelling CTAs.

7. Focus on the right metrics

Be clear about the principles around email marketing split testing and make sure your business is focusing on the right metrics.

Take your subject lines, for example. Don’t just look at the open rate results from your campaigns. Focus on the following metrics:

  • Click rate
  • Conversion rate
  • AOV
  • Total conversions
  • Number of orders per 100 conversions

Take all these KPIs into account when evaluating your email campaign test results.

Wrapping up

If you follow these tips when planning your email campaign split testing, then you'll gain a wealth of great insights to help you understand your customers better and for improving your future campaign performance. Why not check out my email marketing split testing planner tool, which I created to help retail brands organise their testing process and optimise their email campaigns.

Are you ready to take a leap with email marketing this year? Enchant is offering retailers the chance to get a free email marketing audit and roadmap. Apply for an email audit from our experienced experts now!

Get free email audit and roadmap

Enchant is a leading UK digital marketing agency, based in London. We offer a range of email marketing services and have world-class consultants specialising in paid social advertisingCRM and inbound marketing. Want to speak to an email consultant to help improve your strategy? Get in touch and see how we can supercharge your email marketing!


Topics: A/B testing, Dynamic content, ecommerce, Email Marketing, Email subject lines, Personalisation, Persuasion tactics, Persuasive copywriting, relevance, Retail, retailers, Split testing, subject lines, subscribers, Testing, email strategy, email marketing subject lines, email marketing testing, email testing, email campaigns

Philip Storey

Written by Philip Storey

Philip Storey is the Founder and CEO at Enchant Agency. Philip is an email marketing specialist in London, UK. He has enabled hundreds of brands to improve their email marketing. Beyond marketing, Philip is a business coach, personal and professional development coach and mentor to business leaders and senior marketers.

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