March Madness is here once again, and like every year, millions of Americans get caught up filling out their brackets, making their predictions, and trying to prove their knowledge (or luck) to their friends and coworkers. Some spend hours meticulously making their picks: scrutinizing every option, pouring through stats, comparing strength of schedules, wins and losses, etc. – others simply make their decisions on a whim or go with their gut, and some even turn to more unorthodox methods for making their picks.

Come to think of it, this is eerily similar to how many marketers approach critical aspects of their email marketing…

What’s Your Approach to Email Marketing — Go With Your Gut or Get Stuck in an Analytics Rut?

Many marketers pride themselves on knowing what it takes to write a catchy, eye-grabbing subject line, yet few actually validate their approach using the statistics available to them. Fortunately, thanks to the plethora of analytical data available in Real Magnet, this doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t be) you! With our expansive tracking and reporting capabilities you have the tools and information at your disposal to become experts of your email campaigns.

So, do your subject lines pass the eye test? It’s time to run them through the gauntlet and find out! Here are a few tips on how to really tell the contenders from pretenders.

Compare Opens and Click-Throughs. An easy way to tell if your subject lines are effective is to compare the engagement for your various messages. You can view opens and clicks by going to the Reports tab and clicking on the “Opens” link, and selecting the Subject Line Reports. With these reports you can see which subject lines garnered the most opens and click-throughs, providing invaluable insight into the kind of language and topics your recipients find most compelling and worthwhile.

Test Different Subject Line Formats and Formulas. You know what they say, nothing makes up for in-game experience. One of the newer developments that has made the tournament so compelling in recent years is the dichotomy between the powerhouse teams that field predominantly underclassmen, against the smaller schools that manage to keep their less touted players together for three or four years. The point is that winners come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.

For your subject lines, a great way to find the winning formula is to simply test different options. Real Magnet’s A/B Testing feature is ideal for comparing subject lines. So switch your line-up by trying different formulas to see which subject lines garner the most engagement:

  • Try testing the “Reason Why” Subject line: “5 Reasons Why You Should A/B Test Your Marketing Messages.”
  • Or the “Personalization” Subject line: “Jane, Improve Your Open Rates with this Simple Trick”
  • Try the “Benefit” Subject line: “Garner More Opens and Clicks by A/B Testing Your Marketing Messages.”
  • Or the “Question” Subject line: “Wondering how to Improve Your Open and Click Through Rates?”
  • There’s always the “How To” Subject line: “How To Improve the Open and Click Through Rates for Your Marketing Messages.”

By testing your subject lines on real recipients, you’ll be able to determine the winning combination that elicits the most engagement.

Use the Track Tab to ‘Review the Tape’. While the goal is to optimize your campaigns before they go out, there is a ton of valuable information that you can glean from your messages after sending that will help inform your email marketing for the next round. Consider this your half-time adjustment.

Find the messages that have performed the best and worst for you; study and analyze these messages to understand what is and isn’t working for your audience. Here are some useful insights to be learned from the track tab:

  • % Mobile: this shows you the percentage of your recipients who open your messages on a mobile device versus a computer. If you have a high percentage of mobile openers, you may want to consider testing shorter subject lines, as brevity is a key to success on mobile devices. You may also want to consider responsive design, or simply increasing your font size and creating separation between your links.
  • Click-view Tracking: getting your email opened is only half the battle. Next you have to convince your recipients that your content is worthy enough to click. Click-view tracking shows you where in your email – and how often – your links are being clicked. Comparing this data will help you develop strategies for improving the number of clicks your future messages receive.
  • Domain Tracking is a great tool for seeing which domains are performing best for you (AOL vs. Gmail vs. Yahoo – plus any custom domains you want to add). If one domain is getting better engagement than another, you may want to spend time trying to replicate that success with other, less successful domains.

The Final Four

Improving the success of your campaigns starts at the top with the subject line: if you can’t get open, either on the court or in the inbox, nothing else matters. But still, in order to really step up your marketing game it takes a full team effort, with all elements of your messaging working in concert. Both in basketball and email marketing, practice, preparation, and teamwork go a long way. By testing and analyzing your subject lines using these tools and techniques, you’ll be better positioned to identify those unexpected ‘Cinderella subject lines’ that have the potential to really elevate your marketing efforts to a championship level.