The Levison Letter

Results of a "Subject line" split test 

September, 2012

If emails are a part of your marketing mix, I sure hope you're doing some testing. You see, one of the great advantages of email is that it's cheap (certainly compared to direct mail). Which means you can do split testing of key variables and learn a lot at very low cost.


What can you test? How about . . .

  • Subject lines
  • Personalization (with and without)
  • Headlines
  • Long copy versus short copy
  • Text-only versus HTML
  • Different offers
  • Response buttons
  • Landing pages

And that's just for starters!


I want you to know that I don't just offer advice on this subject. I practice what I preach! Let me prove it by sharing with you the results of a split test that I ran in last month's issue of The Levison Letter.


As you may have noticed, I normally use the following subject line when I email The Levison Letter:


Your "Levison Letter" as requested


Hopefully, recipients will recognize the title of my enewsletter and open it. Also, by adding "as requested" to the subject line, I've indicated that my enewsletter isn't junk mail; the reader signed up for it.


My subject line is strong when it comes to identifying what the email is, but it's weak in that it doesn't convey benefits. So last month I did an A/B split test of two subject lines.


Half my readers (maybe you) saw the usual subject line:


Your "Levison Letter" as requested


The other half of my list saw this subject line:


How to write a killer landing page


As you can see, the new subject line is very different from the standard line. The new one features a strong benefit . . . though, of course, it only appeals to people who are interested in landing pages!


So . . . how did the two lines do? Which turned out to yield the higher open rate?


Here's the answer. The "How to write a killer landing page" open rate was higher by .8%. In other words it was pretty much a tie.


Let me walk you through my thinking about the results of this split test. Not because you care so much about The Levison Letter, but because it shows how you can interpret what seems at first glance to be an uninteresting test result.


To begin with, the fact that the open rates were essentially equal, was fine with me. At least I learned that my standard subject line wasn't getting killed because it lacked benefits.


My plan, based on this test, is to stick with the standard "Your 'Levison Letter' as requested" subject line. Why? Because using this subject line consistently over time helps the reader instantly identify what I'm sending. And I won't have to gamble every month on whether a benefit line dealing with a specific topic will have broad appeal.


The take-away message this month?


If you're not split testing your emails, you're walking away from a real opportunity. Try it and see what you learn!


Want me to start writing emails, direct mail, web pages, and more, for you? Give me a call at (415) 461-0672 and let's talk. Or shoot me an email. Let me show you how easy it is to dramatically increase your sales. Want to see the kind of results I get for my clients? CLICK HERE.

How to get in touch . . .
Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738


Ivan Levison. Direct Mail, Email & Advertising Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive, Greenbrae, CA 94904
Phone (415) 461-0672      Fax: (415) 461-7738

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