The secret to email success isn't luck


Wouldn’t it be great if at the end of every rainbow was the secret to email marketing success?

As marketers, it’s all too easy to wish for a magic solution to our biggest challenges – something that could increase open rates, compel people to click, and drive an audience to convert. So here’s some great news: That solution exists.

…well, kind of. It isn’t the luck of the Irish or some sort of magic spell – it’s testing. And even though it requires a little bit of effort on your part, the rewards are great. By simply testing different elements of your campaigns and paying attention to the results, you can build a more successful email program in no time.

Want to see how it’s done? Here are five different elements you can test to quickly boost your open and click rates – no four-leaf clover necessary. 



1. Test your subject lines.

Split testing your subject lines is easy, and it’s a surefire way to learn more about your audience and get the best open rates possible. And the more split tests you perform, the more you’ll come to better understand your audience’s habits and preferences.




Subject lines (and marketers) are competitive by nature, so split testing your subject lines can actually be kind of fun. Have a couple members of your team write different subject lines, split test them, and root for your favorite to win as the results roll in. It adds some excitement to the process, and you’ll likely be surprised what ends up resonating with your audience the most.



2. Test your from name.

In the hope of making their emails seem more personal, several brands have experimented with changing their “from” names to the names of individuals – “Jim Halpert” instead of “Dunder Mifflin,” “Jake” instead of  “State Farm,” etc. Because humans like to hear from other humans more than they like to hear from brands... right?

Maybe not. If you’re currently using a person's name as your “from" name and find that your open rates are low, it might be a good idea to change it to a more recognizable brand or company name. It’s not that people don’t respond well to emails from other humans; it's that seeing “from" information that isn’t clearly related to someone they know can be a red flag for individuals who are growing increasingly wary of spammers in their inboxes.

So to figure out what works best with your specific audience, simply test different “from” names for your campaigns and stick with whichever one ends up getting the best open rates.



3. Test your send times.

One of the questions we most often get from marketers is “What’s the best time to send to my audience?” But there’s no foolproof answer, because it'll vary depending upon your particular audience's behavior: Do they read email at work or home? Have they signed up to receive your emails from their professional email address or personal address? The list of variables goes on. 

So one of the best ways to figure out the best time to reach your audience is to test different options. If you find you’re getting more opens on Tuesdays but not Sundays or in the morning but not at night, you’ve figured out when your audience best likes to hear from you and can continue sending at their preferred time.



4. Test your CTA buttons.

Though every element of your email contributes to whether or not your recipients will ultimately decide to click, your CTA is one of the most powerful weapons you have to convince them to do so. So if you want to improve your click rates, you should do everything you can to optimize your CTA – whether that means the color, copy, placement, or all of the above!

Just remember: It’s tempting to change up everything all at once, but you should only test one variable at a time for the most accurate insights into what’s truly working.


Check out our guide, "Why we click," for more specifics on how to optimize your CTAs.



5. Test different types of content.

If your subscribers haven’t been engaging with the content you’ve been sending them, it might be time to try something new. Switch up the subject matter: If you’ve only been including blog posts, try an infographic or white paper. Or give video a shot.

You never know what your audience will like best and find most valuable until you experiment with different types of content. Not only will your success rates improve as you track what people engage with the most and adjust accordingly, it’ll also help you develop a stronger editorial calendar moving forward.



Testing everything from your CTA buttons to your subject lines gives you instant insight into what your audience likes and what they don't like.

You’ll be able to craft emails that you already know your audience will love (and click on!) because you have the data to back it up. And that sort of data is the closest thing you’ll find in the email marketing world to a shimmering pot of gold.


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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