An Email Marketing Case Study

August 18, 2017

In this new-age digital world, email seems relatively ancient compared to its newer messaging counterparts like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook (was You’ve Got Mail really made in 1995?). But, an old dog can learn new tricks. 

Email continues to be a main source of conversions and 72.5% of millennials chose email as their preferred communication from a business. When a client has a limited budget, Blue Sky Marketing often suggests a focus on email marketing to get the most bang for their buck.

Blue Sky Marketing is highly focused on testing and ROI; we continuously strive to experiment and then optimize. Below, we discuss two principal components of email marketing strategy: subject lines and A/B testing. We then demonstrate how they were used in a current case study for our client VitalPet. 

Best Practices for Subject Lines

Forty-seven percent of people open emails based on subject line alone. Here are a few tips to increase your open rates:

  • Make your subject line relevant
  • Include actionable language
  • Use 50 characters or less
  • Include a deadline or sense of urgency

Tip:  Here is a handy tool for testing subject lines based on relevance and best practices.

Best Practices for A/B Testing

A/B testing in email is when two emails, version A and version B, are sent to a mailing list to see if one has more positive results than the other. Here are some essential points to consider when designing a test:

  • Define a goal
  • Identify important metrics
  • Test one variable at a time
  • Send both tests at the same time
  • Don’t assume

 Having a goal is important. What are you trying to learn from your test? What metrics best measure if your goal was successful? It is also important to only test one variable at a time. Testing multiple items can skew results, so along with other variants, make sure Version A and Version B are sent at the same time. Last, don’t assume that your results are conclusive. Finding statistical significance takes more than one email campaign.

VitalPet Case Study:

VitalPet is a veterinary franchise that is quickly growing across the United States.

As we continue to grow their brand, it is also important that we cater to each location’s distinct personality and customer profile. Testing subject lines and content across locations is one way to develop a comprehensive email marketing strategy that generates results.

 In this case, VitalPet wanted to run a promotion for 15% off flea and tick preventative for all of their locations. Our goal was to have two email promotions for each location, one at the beginning of the summer and one toward the end. To start, we split 12 locations into two subject line groups.

  1. Ticked off? Don’t be. Save Today
  2. Ticks bite! Save on Preventative Today

 In both subject lines, we used the word “Today.” There is a 22% higher open rate with subject lines that create a sense of urgency.  However, be careful with your keywords because using a word like “Free” or inserting “%” can trigger spam filters.

We wanted to create curiosity while having a clear indication of email content. Emails that have relevant subject lines perform better. This test was true to form; the second subject line more clearly states the intention of the email by including the word preventative and we saw higher open rates with this messaging.

A/B Testing

All 12 locations used the same A/B test. What that means is that 50% of each email list received an image of a cat and the other half received an image of a dog. The other variables like call to action and text were constant. 

The goal was to see which locations had higher click rates on the cat image and which had higher click rates on the dog image. We wanted to learn preferences for future campaigns.

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What we did with our results

For our follow-up promotional email, we used our results from the first campaign to make informed decisions.

    1. “A few weeks left to save on preventative”- We used a new subject line that made our intentions clear. It also included a deadline to create a sense of urgency.
    2. We sent each location the image that performed best for their individual email list. The idea being, if the image of the cat won in the A/B test for Location A, we should test sending just the cat to that location in the follow-up. By continuing our testing, we are able to gain more information about our customers.

Subject line and A/B testing take time but are an investment in creating a strong strategy that provides a higher ROI. One test, or even a few tests, is not an end-all be all. We don’t assume that we should always send our North Texas location a cat image because it gave us higher click rates in these two campaigns, but we’ve made note of the apparent preference and will see if it remains constant going forward.

We look forward to evaluating our results with an eye for statistical significance across past and future campaigns. In the meantime, we will gather information like a sponge and cross-examine the insights with other sources like VitalPet’s sales and customer database.

 Our advice? Be aware. Test the waters. Track your results. Rinse & Repeat.

 What else did we do in this campaign?

  1. Optimized send time by using MailChimp’s algorithm
  2. Created a mobile version of our email
  3. Included convincing copy about flea reproduction to inspire urgency
  4. Used Google Analytics to review behavior on VitalPet’s website from the campaign

Talk to us about your email marketing strategy

Blue Sky Marketing are experts in helping clients create effective email marketing campaigns with a focus on ROI. 

Contact Blue Sky Marketing today to discuss how we can help your business.

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