Web exclusive feature: 5 tips on how to improve your e-mail subject line testing

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Working to improve your subject lines – and your test results – is an important ongoing task for e-mail marketers, say experts. Five industry pros share their top tips



Learn from the past


“Look for common elements in the email messages associated with your most successful campaigns – the ones that pulled the highest revenue per email, largest order size, most downloads or registrations, or whatever conversion/strategic business metric you used to measure campaign success. Look for themes and common attributes across messages, and then develop a set of hypotheses you can test.”


- Loren McDonald, VP of industry relations, Silverpop


Test workable options


“In order to establish the most effective subject line for an email campaign, test 4 workable options. Once you have crafted 4 different subject lines, email them to 4 equal parts of half of your target group. Once you establish which of the 4 subject lines is most effective, email the other half of your target group with that subject line.”


- Jay Kulkarni, CEO and founder, Theorem


Try consistent subject lines


“Email programs with a consistent subject line tend to test very well. The "New Music Tuesday" email sent to iTunes users is a great example. On the other hand, if your programs don't follow a recognizable format or aren't sent at regular intervals, you should consider writing unique subject lines for each mailing.


- Ryan Deutsch, director of strategic services for StrongMail Systems


Track and test results by audience segment


“[Whether it's] active vs. dormant customers or loyalty club members vs. non-member, this will help you get information that will enable you to send more relevant messages to various groups. For example, loyalty program members might care more about points that count toward a long-term relationship, while non-members may only be interested in promotions. And don't forget to pick a random sample within these segments and keep a control group.”


- Anna Lu, director of research and analytics, e-Dialog


Make sure to test often


“Subject line tests should be conducted consistently and often - it's the compounding impact this type of testing can have over time that makes subject line testing well worth the time and effort. Also, when conducting a subject line test make sure the subject lines' copy is truly different, e.g. “Accessorizing Made Easy” vs. “Create a Unique Look with Sashes, Ribbons and More” so you understand what is truly driving the difference in response.”


- Rachel Bergman, SVP of Client Services at Experian CheetahMail

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