Seven A / B tests that no good email newsletter can do without

    When it comes to conversion optimization, we usually start from the top of the funnel - the time of posting on social networks, the wording of the call to action, the choice of headers and images on the landing pages.
    But as soon as we understand how to benefit from the above variables, it's time to take a look at the bottom lines of the funnel.

    Why? Everything is simple. People who themselves have stepped forward to you by subscribing to your newsletter or a free trial version of the product are a valuable audience, receptive to your messages. And a series of timely and well-written emails can be a powerful tool to turn a loyal user into a regular customer.

    A / B testing is a powerful optimization tool that should not be limited only to the subject of the letter. This article has collected seven advanced A / B tests that will ensure maximum conversion from email newsletters.

    Testing the timing and frequency of emails

    The new user has just signed up for the 14-day free version of the product. Now you and your letters have two weeks to inspire and convince him to pay for the full version. So how many letters are needed for this?
    One a day? Sounds like annoying spam, doesn't it?
    One a week? In a week, the user will probably forget that he has received something from you before.
    Or maybe you should send five letters on the first day? Or three letters in three days, and then not a single letter during the week?
    There can be many variations of such questions, but they all have one thing in common - you won’t feel the middle ground until you turn to A / B testing.

    How to test the frequency

    The question of the quantity and frequency of distribution should not arise from scratch. Of course, you can send many letters at once, and it is possible that the conversion will increase, but this effect will be temporary, will not bring you useful information, will not provide a better understanding of user behavior.

    One of the options for an informed search is to immerse yourself in hypothetical thoughts, implicated in the knowledge of the product and the user's needs, which are often called insight search:
    INSIGHT: People who subscribe to the free version of the product are trying to solve an urgent problem. Very urgent, first on the emergency list. They will intensively research your service and competitors' products over the next 48 hours, and will try to use them for the first time within 72 hours.
    HYPOTHESIS: Sending welcome letters within the first 72 hours will be appropriate, timely and important for such users, and is likely to increase conversion.

    The train of thought is transparent, the insight seems correct, you can test.

    Modeling consumption situations based on an understanding of the needs of your customers will help you understand when and how often you should send emails. In addition, it is interesting to develop such thoughts, moving towards understanding other aspects of email marketing and creating the basis for new hypotheses, and, accordingly, tests and experiments.

    In this article, Michael Agaard reflects on how to build hypotheses based on insights. His examples relate to landing pages, but the process is universal in all cases. Do not try to guess how many letters you need to properly greet and "get used" the user to your mailing list. Test, and let the opinion of the users themselves win.

    Urgency / Relevance Testing

    First of all, we tested the time and frequency of the distribution, now we will deal with the content. We're not talking about the subject header or call to action, as we all know , how it's done .
    Instead, let's take a look at the tactics that many companies use to increase conversion: creating a sense of urgency. By specifying a tight deadline or mentioning a limited quantity of goods in stock, you can make the user want to rush into a decision, act now.

    How Doggyloot Uses Urgency

    The Doggyloot store sent letters to users who added products to the basket, but actually didn’t order anything. The letters containing a link to the “basket not delivered to the cash register” indicated that “the goods you added to the basket are almost sold out.”

    What remains of little is of great interest. Image source .

    Reception works - these letters generate a monthly income equal to the store’s daily bargain . Therefore, every time I optimize automated mailing, I start with experiments with urgency. Most often they provide the greatest instant effect.

    How to test urgency

    If you are not sure where to start testing, start by sending reminders at different time intervals.

    Try sending emails about the end of the trial period at intervals of 48, 24, and 12 hours.

    A couple of points to keep in mind:
    • Always include a non-newsletter control group in your tests. It will serve as a basic “level”, and will help to see that any reminder letter, regardless of timing, is always better than no letter. In addition, it will allow you to accurately measure the impact of each letter on the conversion rate.
    • The number of letter options depends on the number of subscribers to the newsletter. If there are not many, start with a couple of options. I usually test for two to three weeks and choose from those that have provided at least about 100 conversions.

    Personalization Testing

    Рассылки Doggyloot оказались эффективными еще и потому, что тамошние маркетологи поняли — собаки бывают кусачими разными, то есть буквально большими и маленькими — и провели тесты по сегментации пользователей в соответствии с размером их питомцев.

    Это вполне логично, ведь владелица чихуахуа вряд ли купит своей Коко метровую собачью жвачку, предназначенную для пород типа сенбернара, ведь тогда еда будет размером с саму собачку.

    Почти метровая собачья жвачка вряд ли подойдет чихуахуа. Image source.

    Такое сегментирование клиентской базы дало поразительный результат. Письма, ориентированные на владельцев крупных собак, увеличили клики по рекламе на 410%.
    Now the first question Doggyloot asks new users is: “What size is your dog?”

    The form on the left asks “What size is your dog?”

    Knowing and using only one but important detail about users can seriously affect the conversion of your newsletters.
    What other personal data can be used in personalization experiments?
    • Start with the basic data that you probably have - name, date of birth, company name
    • You can work with implicit information - the location, the type of device that a person logs into, or the level of use of your product (type of subscription)
    • Pay attention to the advertising campaign that led users to you, their search queries, the landing pages on which they subscribed to the newsletter

    All of the above is fertile ground for testing, it is important to just start.

    Feedback Request Testing

    In early 2012, I read this post by Derek Halpern, after which I wrote one of my most successful letters.
    In this article, Derek recommends attracting new users or subscribers to the blog with one simple question: “What problem are you trying to solve?”

    Since the article was first published, I have used this technique over and over again, and I realized that this is a great question.

    How Groove asks for feedback

    Existing customers are carriers of extremely valuable information about your company. In my SaaS company , the answers to the question “What do you spend most of your work day on, what problem are you trying to solve?”
    Played a huge role in product development planning. Groove , a company offering software for technical support, included similar questions in the mailing list for new users:

    “Why did you sign up for Groove?” Image source .

    Groove admitted that “this newsletter provided 41% more feedback and presented us with the business of our customers and the place of our service in it is much more detailed than any other.”
    Here are some of the responses they received:

    The feedback received by Groove helped improve the content of the newsletters and landing pages. Image source .

    Using the information obtained through feedback, Groove improved its marketing messages and, as a result, doubled the conversion from the home page.
    They also made an interesting observation about the timing of the response to such mailings:
    “It is curious how the answers change between two categories of users: those who reply to the letter immediately after registration, and those who have already managed to use the service for at least a week. In the second case, the essence of the letter shifts toward discussing specific functions and applications. ”

    The question of feedback in the newsletters is very important and can provide a lot of useful information, but take the trouble to find out (test) when and what to ask your users about - then it will become even more useful.

    Testing the Impact of Unexpected Gifts

    When I was engaged in marketing consulting, I had many clients among musicians and record companies. Some of them had huge bases for sending out a monthly news digest.
    In general, these mailings showed good results, but there was one problem: you subscribed to it for 10 days or 10 years, you still received the same content. Most of the subscribers were not new, therefore, the newsletter information, addressed primarily to experienced fans, often discouraged those who had just signed up.
    Then we created mailings for new customers, leaving the main mailings for experienced customers intact, and the result was not long in coming.
    Instead of a stream of news, new subscribers received a series of letters in which they presented the musician, talked about him, building an emotional connection. And only a few weeks later the new subscriber was offered to support the artist by buying his album.

    With one Irish performer, we tested a variety of factors that could influence a purchase decision when we offer it. If we decide to send a letter a day or two before asking for a purchase, what exactly will stimulate the user and increase the conversion? Maybe something social, for example, information about the number of users who have already bought an album? Or a reminder that, when buying an album, you support the artist you like, helping him create more good music?

    It turned out that the greatest effect (double sales) was able to bring an unexpected gift.
    After four weeks of subscription, the user received an email with several free tracks and a personalized greeting from the musician.

    It was just a gift that did not require anything from the user, and that was what made him so successful. As a result, the people who received the gift were twice as likely to buy an album or a T-shirt, when in a couple of days they were offered it.

    This technique is appropriate in any business. For example, I know that some companies, pursuing similar goals, sent out free e-books or provided access to a webinar.
    Psychologists can tell in more detail how it works (gifts give rise to desiredo something in return). In any case, practice shows that an unexpected pleasant gift from the company increases the user's mood, and he is more likely to buy its product or service in the future.

    Design testing

    So, we talked a bit about the content itself and its effect on the effectiveness of the newsletter, but what about its design?
    Should your welcome letter impress with colors and design? Or is it better to make it restrained by applying in it just a couple of dies from the brand book, logo and picture with the goods? Or is it better to use letters without any design or design at all?

    As you probably guessed, the only way to decide is to test different options.

    The Obama campaign team in 2012 found that personalized letters that contain “clear” text give the best effect.
    That's what she said about thisAmelia Showalter, Head of Obama’s Campaign Analytics Department: “I think this decision looked like improvisation, it seemed that the letters were written by real people, that they were not painfully born during different focus groups.”

    On the other hand, Wishpond writes in its blog about completely opposite test results. They found an article saying that “high-quality, detailed images are 67% more powerful for users than product descriptions and reviews from other people,” and decided to check this statement on their newsletters. And, interestingly, in the end, they found that emails with images receive 60% more clicks than those that contain only “bare” text.

    I bring these cases here to demonstrate: in this matter, it is difficult to trust your intuition, industry standards or the example of competitors. You just need to do the tests.

    Testing user retention measures

    What happens when a free trial of your product ends? What to do if you sent timely, informative and targeted letters to new subscribers, but they didn’t buy anything?
    The fact that the user is inactive now does not mean that he is not interested in your product. It is wise to try to remind him of yourself.

    How Squarespace returns users

    Let's take a look at the two letters that Squarespace sends to those who have not continued to use its product after the trial version.
    The first letter, which comes two days after the end of the free subscription, offers to renew it for another week - a good combination of “urgency” and the ability to return the customer.

    The second letter, which comes in a couple of days, is entitled “What can we improve?”

    Although this letter is formally asking for feedback, it still gives the user the opportunity to renew the free subscription and leaves a “window” for a possible purchase in the future.

    How Groove returns users

    Groove also offers a free period of use, and if the customer has not bought anything, they remind of themselves 7, 21 and 90 days after the expiration of the free period.

    A period of 90 days may seem too long (does the user even remember about the service?), But testing showed a stable conversion of 2% of such letters.
    Of course, this figure is not amazing, but agree that 2% is better than 0%.

    Think and test

    The point is not to replicate a known successful tactic. You need to be inspired and conduct mailing list tests, achieving the optimal effect in your case. You will need some information about the recipients - you can get it by examining existing mailings or simply asking users what tasks they solve or would like to solve using your product or service.

    By combining several well-made landing pages in conjunction with correctly composed letters, you will receive an increase in the conversion and loyalty of existing users. But the only way to achieve this is to constantly test your messages. For such tasks, there are many services, including those with a free trial period, for example Mailchimp , AWeber or SparkPage.

    Test, test and test again, achieve the perfect result in a real dialogue with the user!

    This is a translation of an article by Peter Tanham, an Irish expert on mobile marketing, analytics and optimization, the creator of the service .

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