3 Insights into Email Advertising

Note: This post was archived from the Infusionsoft Blog. More details here.

3 Insights into Email AdvertisingNo doubt, email marketing is a hot topic. Businesses have flocked to email service providers by the hundreds of thousands. In most cases, email marketing refers to follow-up marketing to existing contacts. Today, I want to share some insights into email advertising – paying to advertise in someone’s email list. We do a fair amount of this at Infusionsoft and we’ve learned some simple –yet, interesting– lessons you need to know.

Similar to other forms of advertising, the goal is to grab attention, pique interest and entice to act. The example I’ll share in this post is an ad we’ve used to promote our helpful Internet Marketing Guide. We know that if people are investing in internet marketing, they’re likely to benefit from Infusionsoft. So, the topic is a good hook for potential customers. In addition, since it’s a broad topic with a lot of appeal, we can bring people into our marketing funnel at a very low cost and let Infusionsoft follow-up magic bubble up those that are interested and qualified to buy our marketing automation software.

Here’s what we tested:

  • Email Subject Lines
  • Buttons & Links in Messages
  • Email Length

Test 1: Subject Lines

On two different occasions, I tested two different subject lines. The subject lines are drastically different, but we were wondering which words would grab attention the most.

During the first test to 100,000 subscribers of an internet marketing news newsletter, we tested these two subject lines:

  • “30 Proven Internet Marketing Strategies”
  • “Get more from your internet marketing”

My hypothesis was that “30 Proven Internet Marketing Strategies” would perform better due to the fact that the benefit is more clear and it uses stronger power words. I was wrong. They performed about the same.

During the second test to a different portion of the same list (another 100,000 subscribers), we tested these two subject lines:

  • “30 Proven Internet Marketing Strategies”
  • “30 Proven Ways to Grow Your Business”

In this test, we were wondering if people are more interested in internet marketing or in growing their business. The results were not significantly different.

Lesson Learned: When advertising to a newsletter list, the subject is not super important. Now, don’t get me wrong…. we’ve tested tons of subject lines before honing in on the ones above, and we’ve seen varying results. However, once you have something that works fairly well, it’s hard to make changes and get drastically different results. Your time is better spent elsewhere, like on conversion optimization.

Test 2: Buttons & Links

In another test, we wanted to determine whether or not having a link in the text is significantly helpful compared to just having button links. Below you can see the identical emails we ran against each other. The top image and the bottom images are both linked.  The only difference was the text link in the middle. Our hypothesis was that the text link would increase clicks and therefore conversions.

Email with no text link Email with text link

The results showed that the text link produced 23.5% more clicks and brought in new leads at a 30% lower cost. I like those numbers!

Lesson Learned: Using image and text links is important to conversion with email ads. This one is intuitive, but it’s good to have the data.

Test 3: Email Length

You may notice that the emails above are not ultra short. We like writing compelling copy and sometimes it’s challenging to cut out some of the benefits to get it shorter. Nevertheless, we wanted to test a hypothesis that suggested that shorter emails get better conversion. So, we hacked the second paragraph. Here’s what we tested:

Email with text linkShorter email

Visually, the change is not huge, but the results showed that removing the paragraph and changing the copy slightly to fit was helpful. The email with the second paragraph removed produced 25.2% more leads.

Lesson Learned: Shorter emails convert better. I’ll qualify this by saying that shorter emails work better only if the benefits are not removed by reducing the content.

We’ve tested a couple of other things like having and Infusionsoft header & footer in the email. That’s a bad idea because people get distracted. We noticed that quite a few people clicked on our social media links at the bottom of the ads. That’s fine, but they tend to not return and click the download links and become leads. So, we took those out. We also tried changing the location of the text link. In one version we had it within a sentence. We definitely got better results by having it appear as a bold “subheading” in the email.

Hopefully this is helpful to others trying to venture in the world of email advertising. In our experience, when done right, it’s a very cost-effective way to get your name in front of a ton of people and drive a decent amount of new leads. Just make sure the audience is right and your email ad is the right message to attract the right segment of that audience to your product or service.

[Image credit: ardonik]

3 thoughts on “3 Insights into Email Advertising”

  1. I have always wanted to try using someone elses list, as long as it was within my niche or category. The problem was always the cost. A large list of subscribers from a big site costs money! More than I thought worth while. But I do know it works well, the pay-off has to be worth nor only the cost, but the effort as well…

    http://www.homejobsite.com

  2. Very interesting post, Tyler. Our own internal “A/B” tests have confirmed the same findings. More interesting, was a unique “A/B” test we did driving half of our database to a customized landing page highlighting our work with current clients in the past year, while driving the other half to a landing page created to highlight our 2011 initiatives.

    What we found was that our landing page created regarding our past year’s work was opened and clicked through at a ~23% rate. I think this reconfirms the idea that people are very interested to see and learn about what their peers are doing to stay ahead of the curve, and how they can become a part of the action. Great post and keep em coming.

    1. Thanks for the reply Andrew. I think your findings are consistent with the well-known marketing philosophy of “help people envision themselves experiencing the benefits of your product/service and you’re more likely to get them as a customer”.

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