Thinking about your digital marketing, what do you test? Pricing, grouping, offers, creative, form fields, layout, copy, colour and more? Hopefully these are just some of the tests you are performing on your website, landing pages, e-commerce site, PPC and banners ads.  

The process of running a test is pretty simple. We ask a question, for example: “Does my audience prefer % off offers, or exclusive offers?” We then turn this into a hypothesis: “Exclusive offers will deliver an uplift in conversions over percentage-off offers” and then we roll the test out and ask our audience to vote on which resonates best with them.  

We then review the results and if our hypothesis has been carefully crafted, we not only find out which version wins -- but more importantly, we also gain some valuable insights on what tickles our audience’s fancy.

So let’s take a look at how we can use email to deliver many of these tests, using the above hypothesis as an example. One of email’s many benefits is that it's a push channel. So when performing these tests we’re asking our database, which is generally made up of a combination of prospects and customers, to vote with their actions.

Think of every email sent as being a customer survey of your target market -- because in essence, that's what you are doing. When you grasp this concept, you’ll see how you can take advantage of this and ensure that every email sent contains a test of some kind.

In fact, we can be even more precise and ask our lifecycle segments what they like best. In doing so, we may find out that our prospects prefer percentage-off offers, whilst our customers prefer exclusive offers. We can then roll out these findings within our acquisition-oriented PPC ads, the personalization on our website, as well as our email lifecycle segments.

Now I’m not saying that all factors can be tested within email, and the winner can then be rolled out to all of our digital assets or promotions. We do need to take into consideration the fact that email is a push channel and websites, banners ads and ppc ads are pull channels.

The pull/push channel consideration is a major one, as it often means our audiences are in different mindsets depending upon the channel through which they found the offer.

For example, with a pull channel -- let’s take a website -- customers are there because they have a mission to fulfill. They’re motivated to look, buy or research in order to accomplish their mission.

Whereas with a push channel such as email, we’re pushing our offer to them and suggesting "Would you like this?" "How about considering that?" Which often means that customers are closer to the top of the funnel in the buying journey, since they were not intentionally searching for that product.

So often we need to tailor the factor that we’re testing, such as a call-to-action, to where customers are in the buying journey. Some of the easiest wins with call-to-actions are gained by simply recognising what the next step is that you’d like them to take -- and have that be the call-to-action.

For example, within an email, generally speaking a call-to-action like “Check out what’s new” is more appropriate and will more likely provide you with an uplift than “Buy now” will -– simply because that's the next step in the customer journey and the motivation to purchase still needs to be built.

If you’re not already treating every email as an opportunity to gain valuable insights from your target market, I encourage you to give it a go and reap the rewards. But be warned: Testing is addictive (in a good way!).

Originally published at MediaPost