How to use social media to test subject lines

Here’s an easy ┬áidea to boost your email marketing open rate through social media subject line testing. It’s long been known that subject line has a major influence over open rate. Much like the packaging of an envelope, subject lines can intrigue or repel subscribers from reading. To help email marketers, email service providers have been offering comprehensive testing suites (WhatCounts’s Publicaster email marketing software gives you the ability to test 10 or more different subjects) to determine which subject lines will perform best.

However, one of the deficiencies of the testing process is that a certain part of your list will underperform the rest of the list. This is an unavoidable part of testing…

… until now. Here’s an idea to try with your social media following. Assuming you have an audience in social media that strongly resembles your subscriber base, test your subject lines with them. Here’s an example. On Wednesday, I tweeted to my followers the following:

Testing subject lines on social media - Twitter

As you can surmise, each of the tweets was a subject line for the same content. Note that my followers got full disclosure; they were told exactly what was going on and what was being asked of them. Each tweet had a separate shortened URL to independently manage clickthrough tracking.

The results?

Measuring the results of social media testing.

Logically, if a subject line resonates more or less with a social media audience in terms of user actions – clicks – it’s probably a good candidate for testing in the actual campaign. If a subject line significantly underperforms in social media, there’s no point in sending it to subscribers and risk that testing group not reading the message.

Another nice benefit of this particular test was that I had results available to me within an hour.

Try pre-testing your next major campaign’s subject lines with your social media audience first to weed out underperforming subject lines. Your tests will be much more focused and successful!

Christopher S. Penn
Director of Inbound Marketing, WhatCounts

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