Boost sales by a simple email?

One of the most cost-effective ways of marketing your offers and services to customers is to email your database, but how do you ensure you actually implement a campaign that works, rather than one that gets ignored?

Well, as they always say, trial and error is one of the best methods. When it comes to email campaigns we call that A/B testing.

So, what is that exactly? Well it’s a way to experiment with different elements of your email campaign. You can develop different versions of e-shots, with each version being sent to a small percentage of your database. The best performing version, you then send to the remaining database.  

It’s all relatively easy to do and most mail platforms such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor can run, test and track the success of mail shots automatically.  

If you plan on implementing a long running email campaign, you can get quite in-depth with this, running tests to assess what really chimes with your database and what is most effective. This testing can cover everything from the content used, to the call to actions buttons and even the colours used in the e-shot.

Here’s a few things we recommend you consider:

Subject lines

  • Subject line is the deciding factor in whether your campaign gets opened or not – so it’s pretty vital.
  • I recommend writing several – five or more per campaign, and then choose the best ones to a/b test.
  • Testing ideas
    • Including personalisation – you could include their name / location / business type
    • Length – remember emails on mobile have a much shorter subject line display
    • Use of emojis


  • Most email service providers offer the opportunity to test different layouts or content in the main body of your email.
  • Testing ideas
    • Vary the number of sections / products included – remember on mobile a long email takes a long time to scroll through!
    • Experiment with the length of the copy
    • Test the number of images you use. The standard advice here is an 80:20 text to image ratio. But it’s worth testing to find what works with your audience.

Call to action buttons

  • The ultimate aim of your campaign – to generate a response
  • Testing ideas
    • Colour – it’s surprising how simply changing the colour of your call to action, for example your booking link/button can bring about different results
    • Copy – try out different phrases to find which resonates the most
    • Number – having more call-to action buttons on your email doesn’t necessarily mean better results, sometimes less is more. Test out the amount you have to find the optimum number.

General things to remember

  • Test one thing at once – so you can accurately attribute success.
  • Create a testing calendar to help you keep track of results and plan ahead
  • Use tests to get quick wins – e.g. if your open rates are low, start with subject line testing.

It really is simple stuff but get it right and it can seriously pay off and help you drive sales. One of our clients, the Daffodil Hotel and Spa, based in Cumbria, worked with us on such a email campaign, using testing to generate top performing e-shots, all aimed at  promoting their post Christmas special offers. The result saw almost a third of all the e-shots opened, which is an extremely high rate and as a result the hotel saw a major boost in post-Christmas bookings. They calculated that the money they invested in the email campaign saw a 2,500% return on investment.

So, if you can get the content right, and make sure, through testing you have the best performing e-shots, then you can create an email marketing campaign that will really deliver on the bottom line.

By Liam Hartley-Wright, email marketing manager at website design and digital marketing firm, Fat Media

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