split testing

Are You Using Images Effectively?

By Crystal Gouldey

When is it a good idea to use images to promote what you’re selling in your email marketing campaign?

Email Marketing Reports described how image-heavy emails can outperform the alternatives in the right circumstances and with the right execution. This may not sound surprising, but the key phrase here is “in the right circumstances and with the right execution”.

We looked at a number of customers who were using images in a really smart way, and thought we’d take a moment to share these examples with you.

The Tangibles: Images of Your Product

If you’re selling something tangible, you want to show your subscribers a picture of it. An email from Bruder Toys is a good example of this:

Bruder Toys includes the name of the toy and price, so those that click through will most likely be interested in buying the product in the picture.
It’s easy to snap a picture of what you’re selling and insert that image in your message, but what about if you aren’t selling a tangible product?

The Less Tangibles: Using Images of Results

If you don’t have a physical product you’re selling, you can still use images in an effective way.

Think about what you’re trying to sell, maybe it’s even just an idea you’re selling, and then think of how you can provide an image of the end result that comes from using your idea.

Let’s look at some different approaches:

1. If you’re offering a service

Interior decorator Faith Sheridan uses email to connect with potential clients. Her end result is how a room will look after she’s finished working on it:

Subscribers will get to see her work and there are even links to see the before and after pictures.

You want subscribers to see samples of your work so you can increase your credibility and allow them to get to know you more. This will make them more likely to hire you!

2. If you’re giving them something to try

Southern Plate provides recipes for their subscribers. This email shows an image of an end result from one of their recipes:

It’s easy to hook subscribers when the end product looks so delicious! Southern Plate sets it up so the recipe isn’t actually in the email, so subscribers need to click through to their site in order to get the recipe.

You want subscribers to be compelled to do what your email is telling them to do, so show them the reward they’ll get for completing the task.

3. If you want them to join a program

Sixpacknow.com wants subscribers to follow their training program to get great abs. Their solution? Include an image of someone who had successful results from using the program:

People see the results they want for themselves, and are compelled to join the program. Using before and after pictures would also work well here.

You should take pictures depicting the before and after results of joining your program so subscribers can clearly see why the program will benefit them.

Keep in mind that your results don’t need to be just pictures. You can also show images of graphs and charts that will provide a visual for the success that you or someone you worked with had.

Use Split Testing to Find What Works for You

You can split test your broadcast messages to find out how images impact your emails. Split testing allows you to send different versions of your message to randomly selected groups. After sending it out, you will then need to determine what worked best.

You can use the QuickStats page to get an “at a glance” idea of how the message performed. Click tracking records the number of clicks within your message, along with the number of times each URL was clicked.

If you have Analytics set up, you can get a more in depth idea of how your message performed. You can even set up sales tracking to see how much money each message brought in. This will allow you to see more clearly what works best with your subscribers.

Remember These Tips When Using Images

When you use HTML emails, you want to make sure you’re doing the following:

  • Link to a web version of your message- Broadcasts can be archived so you can use the direct URL to your message and insert it at the top of the email. That way subscribers can view your message in a web page in case they can’t see everything in their email client correctly.
  • Make your message comprehensible without images- Make sure your messages are still easy to follow even when the images can’t be seen, as some email clients will have images turned off by default. You should use alternative text for your images so subscribers will still know what’s going on.
  • Include a plain text version- Always include a plain text copy of your message. If a subscriber cannot receive HTML messages, it will automatically revert to the plain text copy.

Think About How Images Can Help Your Emails

Keep in mind that images can improve your emails “in the right circumstances and with the right execution.” Can you sell your idea with images? What other ways can you think of for incorporating images effectively in messages?

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When Should a Popover Form Appear?

By Crystal Gouldey

Question: Would you ask a visitor to do something right away, or after they’ve had some time to get to know you?

Pop-up type forms make this something you need to consider. These forms can greatly increase your subscribers for your email marketing campaign. You can set how much time elapses before the form comes up, but the question is: how much time should that be?

Split testing allows you to set up a controlled experiment within your account to test and see when you should have your form come up. We had a couple volunteers try out this experiment, and we’ll be discussing their results and why it may or may not work for you.

Time to set up some tests

SA logo

Karen Baker runs the email campaign for this South Africa travel company. She has a pop-over form set up on the site to come up immediately:

She decided to set up a split test to see if this was optimal, so she also set up a form that would appear after a delay of 30 seconds.

After several weeks, we took a look at the results. The form that came up immediately had a 45% higher subscription rate than the other form, making it the winner. Satisfied with these results, this is the form that is on her site now.

ministry logo

Tony Kummer runs the email campaign for this site that has online resources for teaching kids about Christianity. He set up a pop-over form on Ministry-To-Children.com:

His pop-over comes up within 10 seconds of landing on the page. Like Karen, he decided to test how a form that comes up after a delay would perform in comparison, and he set up a form to come up after 40 seconds.

Again, we let the test run for several weeks before looking at the results. Tony ended up having similar results in that the form that comes up shortly after landing on the page was the winner with a 50% higher subscription rate.

What does this mean?

Having a shorter delay definitely brings in more subscribers for these examples. This may be because people don’t stay on a particular page that long, as they’ve found and clicked on a link they’re interested in before they’ve even seen the form. Another reason could be they are more likely to close out a form that comes up after they’re already looking at content, and don’t want to be taken away from that page.

It may also just be the visitors are prepared to fill out something that pops up shortly after they land on a page, especially if they’re already familiar with the company and know they want to be on the mailing list.

This is why it’s good to have an inline form as well. The inline form should be immediately visible upon landing on the page, and if possible, on all pages of your website.

When might this not work as well?

While having the form come up immediately works well for our examples, there are some situations it wouldn’t works as well.

  1. The page doesn’t have a lot of information. If the web page doesn’t have a lot of content on it, people aren’t going to be staying on the page long. They’ll be finished reading through the site before the form is scheduled to pop up.
  2. You’ve got some convincing to do. If you’re marketing a new idea or a new product, you may want to let visitors read over your information a bit asking them to commit to your mailing list.
  3. Required reading is your goal. Some businesses only want subscribers that have stayed on the site for a certain amount of time and read all the good stuff that’s up there. After enough time has elapsed, then they get the mailing list offer.

Do a split test to find what works for you!

Does your pop-up come up immediately or do you have a delay? Have you tested delays for your pop-ups? Why do you think your pop-up timing is important?

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3 Steps to More Sales By Split Testing

By Amanda Gagnon

Take a look at that last promotion you sent. Go ahead, open it up.

How is your subject? Interesting enough to open? How about your call to action? So intriguing enough that you want to click it?

Good! But opens and clicks only measure interest. They’re not your end goal.

Your goal is to make sales. It’s the revenue from customer purchases that keeps you afloat. So a broadcast’s true worth can be measured in the sales it generates.

The trick is finding out how to put the message together in a way that prompts the most purchases. With a little setup, you can do this right in your AWeber account.

Step 1: Set Up Sales Tracking

First, you’ll need to make sure you’re tracking the purchases subscribers are making in response to each broadcast.

You can do this with sales tracking. If you’ve already set this up, skip to step 2. If you haven’t yet, head over to our Knowledge Base and follow these steps.

Once you’re ready, it’s time for…

Step 2: Tweak Your Promotional Broadcast

Start with your original broadcast design. The goal is to see if a different version will sell more, so you’ll need to create that other version.

To get started, take a look at:

  • Your call to action. Is your design eye-catching enough? Would different words be more compelling? Should it move above the fold (the point where readers need to scroll to see more)?
  • Your text-to-image ratio. Experts recommend a blend of 60% text to 40% images to illustrate your message while avoiding spam traps.
  • Your preheader. Do you have a whitelisting request? A link to your newsletter online? An unsubscribe link?
  • Your format. Are you using the best layout for your content? Or should you try one of these options instead?
  • Your images and copy. Are you presenting your product or service in the best possible light? Or would your readers respond better to something else?

Step 3: Split Test For the Winning Design

To figure out which design will generate more sales, use the broadcast split testing feature in your account. This sends each version to a randomly selected, equally sized audience so you’ll get the most accurate results.

After the broadcasts go out, follow the QuickStats for each version to keep track of sales. (Just click on the subject on the Broadcast page to see how they’re doing.)


Once you have the winning version, you know what design to use for future promotions!

How Likely Are You to Follow These Steps?

Does setting up sales tracking and a split test sound like something you’re likely to do?

If it does, what changes do you think you’ll test? We’d love to hear about your results!

If not, what’s standing in your way?

AWeber User Chris Garrett on Autoresponders, Incentives and Testing

By Justin Premick

AWeber talks with Chris GarrettWhile at SXSW 2010 in Austin, TX last month, I had the chance to meet a number of businesses using AWeber to deliver their email marketing.

One of the people I met was Chris Garrett, a new media consultant and longtime blogger and email marketer.

We sat and talked about what Chris has learned about email marketing and what he’s doing with his campaigns.

Today, I’d like to share two excerpts from our talk with you.

“What Do You Test In Your Email Marketing?”

In this video, Chris shares:

  • Why he doesn’t use popover forms as a list building tool, even though other users have had success with them.
  • What he tests in his email marketing campaigns.
  • The value of looking at indirect or long-term metrics in addition to direct/short-term ones.

“How Do You Use Autoresponders?”

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • Why incentives like ebooks don’t always yield quality long-term subscribers (even though they can help build your list).
  • Why an ecourse may not be the best marketing use of autoresponders.

Learn From Other Email Marketers Using AWeber

See how…

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Email Spring Cleaning: 4 Easy Ways

By Rebecca Swayze

Just a few months ago, New Year’s resolutions were the highlight of many email marketing conversations.

With the best intentions, businesses set out to grow their lists by the thousands and send more targeted, relevant messages. They made lists and reviewed last year’s figures, invigorated by the new year and certain that they could increase click through rates and ROI by leaps and bounds.

Perhaps you even set lofty goals for your own campaign, only to be sidetracked by more pressing issues. If you’ve temporarily put your resolutions on the back burner, refocus your efforts with these spring cleaning techniques.

Dust Off Your Messages

Dust Off Your Messages

You should treat old emails like attic treasures. Just like you stash your belongings away, only to rediscover them in a flurry of excitement later on, take a close look at your existing messages and examine the available reports for your account.

The Verified Subscribers report shows exactly how many people have confirmed their subscription in the past 30 days. If you aren’t satisfied with your current results, re-purpose your old confirmation email to make it sparkle.

The Follow Up Totals report displays the total number of clicks and opens for each message. If necessary, change up your content to make it more conversational and engaging and fine tune your follow up messages to reflect questions that you frequently receive from subscribers. Examine your subject lines and determine if they are compelling and consistent enough to click through.

Using templates? Make sure your messages look good in all email clients – test them.

Polish Your Web Forms

Polish Your Web Forms

If you haven’t tried the new Web Form Generator yet, now is the time.

Make your forms shine without any HTML knowledge whatsoever. You can create visually appealing forms that give your website a more polished and professional look in only 5 minutes.

Because you don’t need to edit the HTML for your page each time you work on your form, you can make changes whenever you want without a hassle – you could even try seasonal templates if you’re feeling festive.

Campaign Overhaul: Renovating Emails and Forms

Campaign Overhaul: Renovating Emails and Forms

When you’re pouring over various reports and rewriting entire message sequences, how can you be sure that the changes you’re making are the best for your email marketing efforts? By split testing, of course.

Split testing lets you conduct a controlled experiment with your sign up forms and messages to help to see which factors make them perform better for your campaigns.

Web Forms

Split testing web forms lets you evaluate:

Which type of form works best for you (e.g.pop-over vs. inline)

How many fields you should use

Which field labels work best

Whether or not your headline copy is compelling enough

Email Messages

Split test your new messages against your old ones to learn…

Does sending in the morning work better than sending in the afternoon?

Does using a button instead of a text link get me more clicks?

Does subject line personalization get you more, or fewer, opens?

For accurate results, split test broadcasts can only be created for lists that have at least 100 active subscribers.

Revive Your List With Some Careful Pruning

Revive Your List With Some Careful Pruning

Yard work goes hand in hand with spring cleaning, and it’s common landscaping knowledge that most plants benefit from regular maintenance. Take a cue from mother nature – with careful pruning, your list can flourish.

This is not to say that you should immediately unsubscribe anyone who hasn’t opened recent emails.

Consider the number of disengaged subscribers on your list. To start, search for subscribers that haven’t opened a message in 3-6 months. Are there a lot of them?

Resist the urge to channel your inner Edward Scissorhands; don’t delete them them – try to reengage them first!

Think about what you offer in your emails. If your product is seasonal, are those subscribers really inactive? Perhaps they are simply not opening your messages because they are familiar with your brand and assume that they will still receive emails when they are ready to purchase.

What are Your Housekeeping Plans?

Are you clearing out your unsubscribes anyway, despite our advice to think it over? Rewriting messages?

We’d love to hear what you’re doing next with your lists! Share your thoughts on the blog.

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Our Top Posts From 2009

By Amanda Gagnon

2009 was the year of social network integration, testing send windows and organic list growth. While 2010 will bring its own trends, these changes aren’t going away.

Here’s a quick refresher of things that went down in email marketing last year.

These posts highlight some new AWeber features, a few colorful examples and the soundest advice we can offer.

2009: The Year of Posts in Brief

Using Email to Grow a Community: AWeber Talks to User Ramit Sethi
On his personal finance site, Sethi teaches his readers to be rich. Here, he gives a bonus lesson in email marketing success. His tips on building an email community are as valuable as gold.

How To Add an Opt-In Form to Your Facebook Page
Adopting social media techniques was a major move that many email marketers made in 2009. This post teaches you how to add an opt-in form to your Facebook profile, directing new contacts straight to your email list.

And since Facebook has more than 350 million active users, and over 700,000 local business accounts, it may be just the place to expand your online presence.

Design Inspiration From Fellow AWeber Customers
Three cameos of customer newsletters show what’s possible for small-time email marketers. Their clean design and quality content offer inspiration far into the future.

Have a Look At the New Web Form Generator
By far our biggest release of the year, the new web form generator was welcomed with open arms! Gone are the days of manually editing HTML; our web form tool helps you create professional and aesthetically pleasing web forms with absolutely zero HTML knowledge.

Test Results: How Long Should Your From Line Be?
“From” line length can largely impact the open rate of an email, yet it’s easy to overlook in the design process. Review what lengths are ideal in the major email clients.
This type of analysis should also be applied to subject line length. Make sure your subscribers can read the reason they should open each email!

{!firstname}, Think Before You Personalize
Personalization can be powerfully effective when used in the right ways. It can also be easily misused. Learn how to avoid the mistake of assuming that a string variable makes a message personalized, targeted or relevant.

“Do Not Reply” Address? Don’t Bother.
This post examines the trend of using an an unattended email address that discourages replies to emails, and explains why you should never do that with your own campaigns.

Deliver Smarter Autoresponders With Send Windows
Sometimes, certain days or times are ideal for subscribers to receive your emails. Find out why, and then learn how to increase your follow-up messages’ effectiveness by setting up send windows.

2010: Use It Wisely

Email marketing, with the biggest ROI of any marketing channel, is a path that can lead you to success. We hope these posts serve as stepping stones on your journey.

For more inspiration, read through the other email marketing tips that 2009 brought.

What would you like us to talk about in 2010? What steps are you planning to take in the new year? Let us know!

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Get More Subscribers: Seal the Deal with Incentives

By Rebecca Swayze

In the most basic sense, a solid email marketing campaign starts with a captivating web form.

There are lots of things that go through a person’s mind when they are thinking about filling out a web form and voluntarily offering up personal information. You only get one chance to impress them.

Does your web form do everything it should to make a good first impression and compel visitors to subscribe? Or does it fall short, leaving your list smaller than it should be?

Sometimes a Strong Offer Needs Help

You don’t collect names and email addresses just to send casual emails about the weather. The whole point in having a form on your site is to provide something of value to people who give you their information. This is your offer.

MarketingExperiments defines an offer as “the value you promise in your email capture in exchange for a subscriber.” In other words, it’s the why in “why should I sign up?”

Your offer might interest visitors, but it’s not always enough to make them send their personal data out into cyberspace. They consider filling out your form, but find a tiny voice whispering “what if?” in their ear.

Eliminate Doubt

When the time comes to actually fork over their name and email address, a lot of visitors freeze.

In that moment, they are almost ready to subscribe to your list but need just a bit more persuasion.

What to do? Sweeten the deal.

Incentives Put The Icing On the Cake

An incentive motivates someone who is on the fence about offering up their contact information, and solidifies the fact that they are truly interested in your offer when they press the submit button.

Incentives are different from your offer. Combined with your offer, incentives compel subscribers to sign up regardless of any initial hesitation.

There are several things you can do with your incentive:

  • Provide a free ebook or report in addition to your offer
  • Hold a drawing for a grand prize
  • Have an ongoing promotion (like free dessert on your birthday each year)
  • Offer a free consultation
  • Provide coupons that offer a percentage off of your products

Location, Location, Location

You need to make sure that the placement of your incentive is logical.

This form (that I easily created in about three minutes with our new web form generator) illustrates how and where you should place your incentive:


Which Incentive is Most Effective?

This depends on a lot of factors that change from business to business. To find out what works for you, the best thing to do is test.

Split test different versions of your form to accurately track which incentive removes the most doubt, and ultimately brings you the most subscribers.

What Works Best for You?

Do you offer an incentive? Have you done any split testing to find out what works best for you?

We would love to hear your experiences, share them below!

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