Often times trainers, consultants, or professional coaches use their own email or mobile inbox to test their email. While this can be a good first impression, it should not be the final word on layout decisions. Because email platforms, mobile inboxes, and personal settings greatly influence how an email marketing message is viewed, a more diverse testing method should be used.
The first line of testing an email is a test or preview option in your email marketing platform to review your layouts. This will provide a direct browser rendering of your email layout and is best served to check for potential glitches or anomalies. Many offer a scaling tool to see how the email will display for different screen sizes. However, it’s rarely fool proof as it ignores image disabling and advanced functions that some email or mobile platforms won’t support.
So that there are no false expectations, it’s impossible to test your layout for every possible scenario. Even sophisticated paid testing platforms don’t guarantee compatibility across the board. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t test on common platforms, systems and settings.
This is an important point because personal experience often drives inadvisable decisions. We got a simple example of this from a client reviewing an email layout. The client feedback said, “Remove the gray box at the top, it’s just taking up space. Put our header in instead.” The gray box in question was the result of the client’s email system disabling images. After explaining that the image was disabled and viewing the email with images enabled the client told us, “Definitely keep the header as it’s the graphical identifier for who we are.”
This is a simple example but one that could be expanded on. Suppose the client loved the graphics and made an email full of them. Every recipient with blocked images would see a blank email until images were enabled. What if the graphic didn’t scale to smaller screens? Mobile users would see a zoomed in version of the header without the benefit of seeing where the content began further down the page.
Don’t let your personal viewing experience dictate unilateral changes. Set up a layout and test it in a few different ways to ensure that a wide range of your audience will get a useful view.
Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The pre-dominant reason that trainers, consultants, and professional coaches run marketing campaigns is to generate leads or sales. While larger firms might include branding and market exposure as a goal, it’s not the primary focus. For this reason, digital marketing should always drive to a call-to-action. If someone completes that call-to-action, they are counted as a conversion, otherwise known as a lead or a sale. It’s imperative that your conversion mechanism work properly, otherwise all the effort invested in marketing will fail to meet the primary goal.
For clarity, here is a list of common digital marketing conversions:
- Completion of a web form for a specific offer or to be contacted.
- An email or phone call replying to a marketing message.
- A social media like/follow/subscribe (though these are soft leads requiring additional effort to be an actionable lead or sale).
The primary mechanism for concern is web forms. We were recently a victim of assuming a web form mechanism would function but not verifying the functionality which caused inefficiency in conversion.
Our client initiated a migration to a new web platform. The platform’s documentation outlined a process where credit card information could be submitted securely and stored on the local server. There was not a payment processor set up for our client but they did not want to delay launch to incorporate it into their site. Not using a built in payment processor caused an extra step of manually running the credit card but the client was comfortable with that, at least in the short term, as it was a necessary step with their former web platform.
Unfortunately when registration arrived, the payment information was scrubbed from the responses. We initiated an inquiry with the platform developer who instructed us that the data was being stripped because we didn’t have a payment processor set up. Despite the user manuals stating that the data would still be captured and the support team re-iterating that a form processor was not required, we were left calling registrants to get payment information.
The form “worked” and the admin panel did not raise any alerts about a payment processor being required. But the failure to fully test the conversion left a gap in our process. Fortunately the gap was identified early and work arounds were devised.
Always test your conversion mechanism. Even if it’s a process that has worked before, test the actual implementation. This example was a systematic failure but sometimes an isolated user error will cause the problem. Once your conversion mechanism is completed run a test, every time. This ensures that it performs in the way you expect and allows you to reap the benefits of your marketing efforts.