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How testing and automation can improve email marketing performance

Objectives

  • Evaluate and optimize the performance of automated programs
  • Generate more renewals
  • Keep providing quality content to lay the foundations for renewals and subscriptions

Brand

Incisive Media is an award-winning B2B information and events business. It provides customers with news, opinions and insight to inform critical business decisions; networking to engage them with industry peers and partners; and creates marketing solutions to enable their business to perform.

The Challenge

Incisive Media has been using automated emails for many years, which has helped the company drive a 31% increase in subscription revenue. However, the way these emails were setup made it difficult for the marketing team to manage them because they were separated in different projects and workspaces. Without a central area to visualize how the programs connected in sequence and timing, it was difficult to test, tweak and optimize them.

The impact of not optimizing campaigns and programs meant that they were missing out on potential revenue and engagement from their users.

The Solution

With the arrival of the Automation Program Builder, Incisive Media could easily address previous challenges and spend more time understanding what content appeals to subscribers and how it should be delivered to support business growth.

The company created a structured testing plan focused, to begin with, on the publication with the largest number of subscribers and trials as it would give them the most reliable results.

  1. Testing timing in trial emails

The aim of this test was to determine whether adding communications after the trial expires will increase subscriptions. The original setup was a three-stage nurture program that would send campaigns on the first, fifth and seventh (final) day of the trial.

  1. Testing content in welcome emails

Is it better to provide new customers with lots of information at once or separate it into different campaigns? Newsletters are very important to Incisive Media as they drive traffic to the website so the team wanted to encourage new customers to sign up. Rather than including this with a bundle of other benefits including mobile apps, the team tested promoting it separately in the first welcome email to encourage users to choose the newsletters they are interested in. By only receiving relevant information, users are more likely to see the value of the content, engage and renew subscriptions.

  1. Testing button position in welcome emails

Forgotten passwords are often a barrier to making the most of a subscription so this test focused on whether the position of this call-to-action (near the top or bottom) would increase password recovery.

The Result

While the APB enabled the faster program creation, it most importantly has given Incisive Media visibility into the success of their programs and enabled them to test communications to improve results.

The tests above showed that:

  • It’s better to send communications encouraging users to subscribe while they are still on their trial, otherwise they are less likely to click on ‘subscribe’ links.

Welcome email example

Incisive Risk.Net welcome email

  • Focusing on newsletters in a separate campaign has increased the proportion of those who sign up and choose their preferred newsletters by 171% (from 14% to 38%).
  • Because subscribers receive content they are interested in, open rates for subsequent newsletters more than doubled (from 20% to 41%).
  • The proportion of people who reset their password decreased slightly when placed at the top rather than the bottom, presumably because the latter is a more natural choice from a user’s experience. Testing for this will continue.

“The APB has revolutionised how we manage our automated sequences. It’s now easy for us to see in one place how our programs are structured, and it takes just seconds to make changes to the format of them. This is crucial, as it enables us to test different variations of communications to see what works best.”

– Stephen Burridge, Head of Marketing Communications & Engagement Team

While there are many factors influencing renewal rates, email optimization has already had a positive influence on results. Comparing renewal data from the first quarter of 2016 and 2017 has shown:

3 percentage points growth (from 62% to 65%) for renewal volume

7 percentage points uplift (from 63% to 70%) for renewal value

What’s next

Incisive Media is now focusing on the next phases of their testing plan while continuing those tests that have been inconclusive:

  1. Testing the execution of automated survey emails, by offering question examples in the email
  2. Adding an additional campaign in the trial email program to increase engagement
  3. Testing a plain text automated trial program sent from an individual’s profile rather than a marketing branded template