Are you simply serving up Spam?

We all know email marketing, right?  Of course; our inboxes are inundated with emails on a daily basis. says that “the number of email users is expected to reach 4.5 billion by 2022. Experts generally agree that 121 business emails are sent and received each day.” That’s a fair number of emails, and I’m guessing, far fewer than most of us are receiving and sending each day. For most businesses, email marketing is a critical piece of their overall marketing strategy.  And, despite the downside we just mentioned – the sheer number of emails we get each day – email marketing can still be a very effective tool.

So, how is your email marketing performing?  Could it be more effective?  Chances are, you’re already using one of the many email service providers out there, such as HubSpot, MailChimp, or Constant Contact.  Hopefully, you’re continually updating your lists and building your messaging based on the recipient’s stage in the buyer journey. And, hopefully, you’re continually testing your emails to make sure that you’re sending the right message to the right person at the right time.

You’re not testing, you say?  That’s a shame because, with the right data, you can understand how, when, where and why your customers did, or didn’t, take the desired action upon receiving your email. And then, you can act upon it.

How does testing work?

Split testing or A/B testing as it’s sometimes called, is a method of testing where the various components that make up your email, such as the copy, images, call-to-action buttons, design, etc., are altered to form a variation of the original or “treatment”. That treatment is then compared with the original or “control” and their performance compared in terms of metrics such as opens and click-through rates. An A/B test, which is actually a lot easier to do than it may sound here, is a great way to learn how to:

  • improve the amount of traffic driven to your website,
  • generate webinar registrations,
  • incentivize recipients to download educational materials such as video and e-books in exchange for contact info, and more.  

What are the “variables” that you can and should test?

Start with your format, your design. There are hundreds of templates out there, each tailored for a specific purpose.  A few examples. The “dedicated send” layout, for is a good choice for an email that is designed to communicate a short news item, such as the introduction of a new product or an offer.  Short copy followed by a call-to-action to “learn more.”  Newsletter layouts are best for, you guessed it, newsletters. Personal or “friendly” letter formats can work well in those instances where your message is more brand focused than product focused.  And so on. The short of it is this: Pick a format that aligns with your objective.

Another variable worth testing is your layout, which is defined by the elements you’re including as well as their placement or “hierarchy.”  Try short copy versus long.  Try a call-to-action button in the middle of your copy and then at the end. Try different colors, fonts, type sizes.

Timing is worth testing, too. As you might imagine, Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are not good sending times.  Generally, at least according to “the experts”, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are best.  However, with time testing, you can be sure!  It’s important to know when your recipient will be open to seeing your message. Otherwise, there is no point in sending it, is there?

Subject lines. Subject lines are the email equivalent of that initial handshake, the part that sets the stage for the conversation. With an inbox full of emails, a subject line must grab your recipients’ attention immediately, then convince them that it is worth opening and reading. You really want to get the subject line right or you’ll never get a decent open rate.

Now, for the test.

While conducting your test is fairly straightforward, there are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind:

As we talked about, now that it’s test time, you should have two versions of your email; your control and your treatment. Remember, you can only change one variable per test. Only then can you be certain that the element you changed is driving the changed response.

Last but not least, your audience. In order to achieve conclusive results, you need to test with two or more audiences that are equal. In order to conduct a “fair” test, both of your email variations must have as similar a group of recipients as possible. Divide your list in two so that you can be sure that the individuals are similar demographically and psychographically. If you don’t, your test results will not be conclusive.  Last but not least, hit “send” and see how your audience responds to each.

It’s time to fine tune.

Granted, there’s a great deal of science in developing and executing an effective email marketing campaign and testing merely scratches the surface. Hopefully, though, if you’re already utilizing emails, and most of you probably are, this can at least help you fine tune your efforts.

About Bank Marketing Center.

Here at, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand.

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit  Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.