Today’s marketers are testers. We need to constantly test new offers, new processes, new campaigns, new pricing, and new headlines. Consumer behavior changes faster than we can keep up, and we need to outthink and outperform our competition in the battle for attention.

Email is a tool that marketers have long found to be effective in boosting web traffic and sales. It’s also quickly becoming one of the easiest ways to test new things. It’s easily trackable, and gives you immediate results.

If you’re using email as part of your marketing strategy, here are 5 things you should consider testing with your next batch.

  1. Subject Lines – there are plenty of different things that you can test in your subject lines. You can test a new way of wording the same offer, using shorter subject lines vs. longer ones, and using punctuation or dollar signs. The subject line is one of the most important aspects of your email if your primary concern is getting more readers. Test a couple of subject lines and find out which one has the highest open rate.
  2. Images – using images in an HTML email can be a good way to make your email look better, but it can also have negative effects. First, it marks your email as marketing (I don’t include images in emails to coworkers or friends). Second, it can affect the way your email displays with certain email providers. I suggest testing the same email with no images to see which has a higher click-through percentage.
  3. Number of Links – I have personally found that the number of links in an email can have a direct impact in a reader’s likelihood to click through. There is no magic number. Too many and you run the risk of either confusing your message or annoying the reader. Too few and you run the risk of missed opportunities. Try testing an email with 3 links vs one with 6 and compare the click-through rate on each link. The key is getting people to the one place where you want them. A click-through to the homepage may not be as important as a click-through to the checkout page.
  4. Link Display – this is a new one. Are people more likely to click on a word that is hyperlinked or on a fully written our URL? I don’t know, but I would like to find out. Test it!
  5. Signature – this is an often overlooked aspect of a marketing email. Do you add a signature or not? I find that a signature at the bottom of the email makes the email look more formal and more personal, usually lifting the response. If you don’t include a signature, try testing one. If you do, try testing an email without one or using a different signature entirely. The CEO’s name might have a different kind of effect than a generic staff message.

The service that I use for all of my email marketing campaigns at the moment is iContact. They have a new split testing tool that allows you to easily set up multiple versions of an email and send the test to all our part of your list to find a winner.