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For Better Subject Lines, Test Big, Test Thoroughly

Loren McDonald of Silverpop is right on target with his article about subject line testing (Subject Line Testing: Tips for Getting It Right).

A couple of his tips really jumped out at us, however, as worthy of emphasizing.

As an email marketing agency, we are adamant about encouraging our email marketing clients to test, test and test again. From the subject line to the call to action to the email design to every other variable, we know there’s always room for testing and tweaking to improve. And in email marketing, even a half of a percentage point improvement can translate into big percentage of increase in ROI!

While we encourage testing, in particular A/B split tests, we want to reiterate some of the advice Loren is giving here in order to improve not just your email marketing program but your testing itself too.

Test the big ideas first

You might want to test “20% off” vs. “save $20” but Loren points out that sometimes you must take a step back and test a bigger concept first. It could be a price discount is outperformed by a different offer, say a selling proposition or benefit like getting promoted, saving time or losing weight. Test to determine the big idea first, then refine your testing to refine your subject line.

Test all the way through

Loren makes a really good point here, that a higher open rate might not reflect a higher conversion rate. One subject line might garner more opens, but another subject line with fewer opens might still garner more sales. Test all the way through to know what’s really happening, because you’re after more than opens: You’re after ROI.

Read the full article on subject line testing. And for help when you set out to do your own email subject line tests, turn to ClickMail to help you get the best results.

Published On: February 9th, 2012Categories: Miscellaneous email marketing topics

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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