Email Marketing Tips: Top 5 Email Variables You Should Test

Email Marketing Tips: Top 5 Email Variables You Should Test

By: Shelly Kramer
December 19, 2012

email variables to testWe’re big fans of email marketing. In fact, it might just be the most effective sales channel there is. If you use email as part of your own integrated marketing strategy (and if you’re not, you should be), you’ve likely discovered some tactics that work for your audience.

After all, audiences aren’t static. They’re fluid, changing entities—and what resonates with them one day may not prove as powerful the next. The solution to keeping on top of ever-changing consumer behavior? That’s easy. Testing—and testing, and testing, and testing some more.

Of course, that begs the million-dollar question: What do you test? The 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report from MecLabs, the world’s largest independent research lab focused on marketing and sales, identified the following components of email campaigns important to test. Let’s see what you think:

Target Audience

If your email doesn’t resonate with your audience, you likely won’t see many results from it. And if you pay attention, your data will tell you whether or not your audience connects with what they read. See if you can segment your audience to deliver different types of information depending on their preferences. Or you might even send out a quick survey to gather details about the information they want to read, then deliver that to them on a regular (but not excessive) basis.

Landing Page

Where does your email lead readers? Consider testing various types of landing pages that reinforce your email’s appearance and content. I’m betting that, by sending an email, you’re wanting readers to take some sort of action. And the easier you make the path to action, the more likely your audience will follow.

Subject Line

This is probably one of the most frequently tested email variables. Try various approaches like creating a sense of urgency, experimenting with the subject line length and including finishing touches like personalization (more on that in a minute) or an expression of thanks. We do a/b testing on just about every single subject line in just about every email campaign we craft for our clients. What about you?


As mentioned earlier, you’re probably sending out an email because you want readers to take some sort of action. And not only do you need to spell out what you want them to do, but you want to give them a reason, too. Don’t just include a link or a button with “Click here” or “Download here.” Instead, test calls-to-action that give users a reason to comply (or even create a sense of urgency, too)—try “Shop now,” “Get your free whitepaper” or “Get instant access for a limited time.”


According to Marketing Sherpa, 32% of email marketers say testing personalization in emails is “very effective.” Try including the recipient’s name in the subject line and/or opening of the email—then keep an eye on your data to see how your audience responded to this individualized touch. One tip? Before you hit “Send” (or “Schedule”), make sure your personalization triggers are working properly. For instance, lately Katy (our Chief Content Officer), has been getting numerous emails from an online retailer that are addressing her by her last name only, and, well, she finds it a little annoying. Just an FYI.

You don’t necessarily have to test all of these variables during each and every email message you send. Mix things up and try throwing a couple of new features into your standard email formula. And once you’re done, we can’t over-emphasize the importance of looking at and analyzing your data to tell you what’s worked—and what hasn’t. In fact, it might even help to create a monthly email report so you can see a range of numbers and stats and more easily identify positive (and negative) trends.

What are your go-to email testing variables? Any favorites that I didn’t mention? We’d love to know any tricks you’re employing—so do share.

Image by shinealight via Creative Commons