Testing newsletters: how to create your own step-by-step plan in email marketing

    The higher the bid for email marketing in your business, the more debate about how letters should look. Trying to make the newsletter more efficient, we focus on the portrait of the client and knowledge of the product, on marketing trends, on the advice of professionals and general research.

    The surest way is to constantly test in practice all the ideas and rely on the reaction of your base. So you will create your own guide with the most effective solutions for your business. Disputes are not needed when there are numbers on hand.

    Split tests and A / B testing

    The main way to test letters. The bottom line: we make several versions of one letter and a helmet for test segments. We set the victory condition and the term (for example, 3 hours). At the end of the term, we determine the winner letter, which goes to the main part of the base.

    How to do:
    • We formulate an exact hypothesis that you either confirm or deny. Choose hypotheses that can later be turned into rules, for example, “in the regular mailing on our database, personalization in the subject of the letter increases efficiency”.
    • Based on the hypothesis, we are preparing a letter and its alternative version (A / B test). In the split test of alternative options you can do 2 or more. Letters should differ only in one element that you are testing.
    • Set up a test . Usually mailing services offer ready-made templates for split tests. In SendPulse, it looks like this:

    • We form a segment for the test . Typically, test emails are sent to 20% of the base, and the winning letter automatically goes to the remaining 80%. At the same time, each of the test options should receive at least 500 people.
    • Choose a victory condition . If we are testing a topic, then the letter with greater openness will win. If we test elements in the body of the letter, we look at the number of transitions. But I recommend taking all the indicators into account and choosing the winner manually. For example, if the subject worked well, but did not fit the content of the letter, there will be fewer conversions from such a newsletter, despite good openness.
    • We conduct repeated tests on the hypothesis and summarize. Each hypothesis is best tested 3-4 times with an interval of 1-2 weeks. We take the indicators both immediately after the test (3 hours after dispatch), and in a day, or better - in 3-7 days. Results may vary significantly. We take into account everything - discoveries, transitions, target action, unsubscribes. We remember the best solutions for all indicators and continue to use them in the future.

    What is worth testing?

    In general, everything needs to be tested.

    Start with strategic points: what type of content and communication style works best? Do you need branded design, which templates are more effective? What offers, promotions, gifts, and CTAs more attract the audience of subscribers? This data will be the basis of your strategy.

    After that, test the marketing subtleties that will complement your strategy:


    Test the length, number of words in the topic, CAPS LOCK, amplifier words, special characters, personalization by name and geolocation, question / appeal, digest / unique themes, Latin / Cyrillic, numbers, quotation marks, concrete sentence versus general wording.


    We evaluate different options for the name of the sender - the name of the company, the name of the manager or leader, the name of the project, service, or the fictional character on whose behalf the mailing is conducted.


    It is possible to register a greeting, letter headers, key sentence, CTA, or use the semantic continuation of the topic.


    design We test design colors, selection of images and banners, colors, size and layout of buttons, design of text links, frames, branded elements, typeface, font color and size.

    Content of the letter

    It is interesting to analyze the personalized greeting, the structure of the letter, the length of the letter, the appeal to “you” or “you”, amplifiers, wording of the proposal, the use of reviews, request for feedback, the use of purchase history, signature, basement.

    Testing the frequency

    When you begin to see the effect of your newsletters - interest in content, sales growth - it will be tempting to send out newsletters more often. Most companies start with weekly mailing, but then increase the number of letters to 3-4 per week, or even send them every day, including weekends.

    At first, this solution gives a short-term effect (more mailings = more sales), but you run the risk of burning the base with your napalm. I remember last year Konstantin Benko from Infobusiness2.ru shareda terrible story about how, in a year, the number of subscribers was reduced from 350,000 to 10,000 for this very reason.

    A comfortable frequency can be determined in practice. The test is best done at least 2 months. In general, the longer you test, the more accurate the results. You can conduct the experiment for six months, if resources allow.

    How to do:

    We will test manually. Select 2 or more random segments in the database. The average performance of mailings to these segments should be the same. To check this, the first 2 weeks we send out to all segments the same way according to the old scheme. If everything is OK, we proceed to testing.

    We leave one segment as a control group. The rest of the helmet is the same series of letters with a different frequency. We take off the indicators of each letter for each segment and put it in the table. At a minimum, we look at openness, transitions, targeted actions and unsubscribes.

    After 2 months, we look at the results by segment. First unsubscribing: 64% of people unsubscribe from newsletters precisely because of the high frequency. If you see alarming dynamics (the number of unsubscriptions has increased by more than 3 times, and is constantly growing) - it’s not worth it to part, even if you see sales growth. Calculate how this will reduce the base in a year and how much you will lose on prematurely unsubscribing.

    Next, we look at the dynamics: how openness, transitions and targeted actions behave. The number of discoveries will fall by 10-20% - this is natural, but we compensated for this with additional letters.

    We look at the total number of unique transitions in each segment, the average income from the subscriber and the total income from each segment. If we see a significant result, we transfer the base to the winning scheme and continue to closely monitor the dynamics.

    NB!The dynamics of indicators are affected not only by frequency. Perhaps if your subscribers do not want to receive 2-3 letters a week, you should review the content of the newsletters. Also try adjusting the frequency depending on the stage of the subscriber's life cycle. New subscribers are ready to receive emails more often, for example, several times a week. Those who are in the database for six months or more - less often, 1-4 times a month.

    Testing the time and day of sending

    Any marketer will say that the best days for selling mailings are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. What are the best days for useful and entertaining content - Friday and even weekends. That mailings need to be sent at 9-12 in the morning (according to some theories, even at 5-6 in the morning).

    So, for example, the recommendations of colleagues from the Pardot agency looked three years ago:

    Have these trends changed and how much do they relate to your audience? Form hypotheses based on your client’s portrait and test, even if they contradict the marketing canons.

    Do split tests in the same way. At the end of the tests, adhere to the selected day, time and frequency of distribution. It’s more comfortable for subscribers, and it’s easier for you to plan your work.

    What is the bottom line:
    1. Testing required. This is the law.
    2. We especially test mailings when working with large databases.
    3. We are testing only one element. We test each hypothesis 3-4 times.
    4. We test only what can be used in the future, and in the future we improve mailings using proven techniques.
    5. We begin to test the contents of letters with strategic elements, then we test the details.
    6. If you decide to increase the frequency, we test and carefully look at the indicators. We take into account the total number of clicks and sales volumes from each segment. We are attentive to the dynamics of unsubscribes.
    7. We test the days of the week and the distribution time based on the characteristics of the audience.

    Successful tests and effective mailings!

    Konstantin Makarov, CEO of SendPulse Successful Newsletter Service

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