“Really, it comes down to testing.”
As a marketer, how many times have you heard that? Hundreds, maybe thousands of times. We all know that best-practices can only take us so far, and that testing with live visitors / readers / viewers gives us the closest thing to “truth” when it comes to which offer works best.
Consequently, most marketers who have a reasonable amount of traffic will get started in testing. Testing landing pages, testing squeeze pages, testing webinar registration pages, sales pages you name it. But… testing email sequences?
Why Marketers IGNORE Testing Email Copy
Unlike sales pages – which tend to get all the love when it comes to testing efforts – autoresponder emails often get written once (often rather half-ass-ed-ly), and then they sit there for literally years without a single change being made to them. Why is this?
My supposition is that most internet marketers neglect the massive value of optimizing their back-end profits by favoring to only test quickly and impatiently. While a sales page and squeeze page take a matter of hours or days to test (with the right amount of traffic), email sequences require a waiting period during the split-test that forces marketers to truly see the overall conversion from sequence variation A and sequence variation B to your initial offer or offers. This implies some minor degree of patience.
The rewards, however, can obviously be massive. Even a one-digit difference in back-end conversion on your offer (say, from 4% to 7%) means a whole heck of a lot more money in the bank 12 months from now.
So… how can we test our email sequence in such a way as to have our best shot at immediately increasing open and click-through rates? I’m no genius, but I’m going to share some of the simple methods that I advise – methods that are close to guaranteed to get a “lift” on your current, untested autoresponder sequences.
In this short article, I’m going to outline two simple methods for testing your autoresponder email sequences to “squeeze” more profits out of them. Most marketers should be able to see higher response rates immediately by simply implementing one of these tactics. Neither of them involve getting a new email marketing software, and none of them involve any new or fancy email skills – just your regular old copywriting chops and a new perspective on approaching your emails.
Method #1: The Feedback Loop Subject Line Switcher
If you have, say, 18 emails that go out automatically to your new subscribers or buyers. A massive determining factor in the ROI of your email sequence involves the open rates of these emails alone, especially the first 3-5 emails. No clicks or sales happen unless an open happens, and if you don’t get that reader to open your email by message 3, 4, or 5… your odds of them opening up message number 10 go down drastically.
What I’m suggesting is simply re-doing your subject lines and testing them against your existing subject lines – but doing so strategically. Here’s three mechanisms for gaining feedback in order to write a better set of subject lines.
A – Historical open rate results. Do you know the open and click-through rates of all of the emails in your autoresponder? That’s a goldmine right there. Also – look through your 6-12 month history of broadcast / newsletter emails (on-off emails to your list) and see what’s getting the highest open and click-through rates there, too. You’ll begin to notice trends in subject line length, words used (“free,” “simple,” “3,” etc…), or other factors (industry jargon words, celebrity mentions, etc…). Use this data of what’s worked best and blend that into your re-writing. This is especially useful for getting a lift on the email autoresponders that are most lagging behind in open and click-through rates now.
B – Smart marketer feedback. Ask smart marketers, particularly ones who understand your market and their needs. Ask them how they might change your subject lines and what they think could be improved. You might even show them the data on your historical open and click-through rates and see if they come to different conclusions than you do about open rates / etc…
C – Use your head. You can take one look at the subject line of email number 8 and just think to yourself “You know… that subject line is lame, I know for a fact that I can write a better one.” You look at your stats, you look at your emails, and your own copywriting “spider sense” will aide you in making meaningful change to garner more opens.
You’ll find that you didn’t necessarily think long and hard about your email sequences when you first wrote them… and even if you did… you didn’t have the data that you have now about what autoresponders are getting opens and clicks, and which aren’t. This data combined with your (and maybe a smart friend’s) copywriting sense means that you’ll have a great swing at a much better sequence – and a much more profitable back end.
Method #2: Re-Vamp Around the Top Benefits and Objections
Another way to test and improve email autoresponders is to structure your offerings specifically around the most important benefits and the most pressing objections of your subscribers.
Don’t confuse this with a guessing game, however, the goal here is to get an informed and data-driven response from your list. Here’s how you can make a better determination of what those objections and benefits really are:
A – Poll your recent front-end buyers and ask them what made them chose to buy, and what their main objective in buying was. Also ask them what almost prevented them from buying, and what objection they might have felt towards purchasing from your emails.
B – Poll your prospects who have seen your entire autoresponder sequence, but have not purchased. Ask them what benefit they came in for
C – Call people. I’m a huge fan of direct conversations with prospects or buyers. You can call buyers as a post-purchase “thank you” and ask any questions you like. Similarly, you might have prospects fill out a survey that includes their phone number, and call them to ask a few additional questions. These conversations will inform your understanding of who your market is and what truly makes them tick.
I’ve gone into oodles of detail about this in a recent “autoresponder” blog post – but the simple strategies above are more and enough to get a solid grasp of your audience.
Once you’re done collecting feedback, you can now ensure that your email autoresponder addresses the most important objections and benefits first, and also addresses the other important benefits and objections (those ranked 2, 3, or 4 in importance) late in the sequence.
If you look at an existing autoresponder after conducting this simple customer research, you’ll likely notice that the benefits and objections you address aren’t in true order of importance, and that some of the very most important benefits or objections to your prospects may be wholly neglected by your entire email sequence. By tweaking existing emails to address what matters most to the prospect, you’ll be giving yourself the best shot at garnering action from your emails, and seeing a lift in autoresponder conversions.
Most marketers neglect testing their back-end email sequences because the feedback loop takes longer (in general) than testing squeeze and sales pages. By taking advantage of past data and customer insight, you can craft a “variation 1” email sequence with the best chance of beating your “control” email sequence, and get an edge on your back-end conversion rates that most marketers neglect and leave on the table.