This post was originally posted on the DMA Email Marketing Blog.

Have you noticed just how overwhelming it is? The noise is loud, really loud!  The volume is set to ‘rock’ and the music is booming from the e-mail marketing tent. Where’s my invite? Where’s the party? I’m a big music fan, but today I’m not talking about Glastonbury or a cool party in the park. No. In this instance the tickets are free and the music is streaming from the industry. Our industry.

I use the word music as an analogy to e-marketing articles, white papers, blogs, RSS feeds and social-media content. From Linkedin to Facebook, our broadcasts are everywhere. Our content is everywhere and growing at a phenomenal pace. I don’t know about you, but as a marketer with more than a decade of hands on experience, I believe we marketers need to get our house in order before we run off to the next cool festival.

My first DMA blog isn’t about music or anything new for that matter. My first blog is an opportunity to remind marketers to invest (or re-invest) in a basic discipline that pays big dividends. Test, test and test again.

I know the issue only too well. Testing takes time, something us marketers don’t have a great deal of! If you can find time to incorporate testing techniques in to your daily routine through manual or automated processes you will discover testing makes a big difference to the outcome of your campaigns. A small uplift in open or click through volumes can produce a big impact on conversions, sales and revenue. This is definitely music to my ears.

Over the 8 years, I’ve executed many testing combinations for a variety of customers, all of which helped me fine-tune my campaign management for greater returns. Five common A/B tests I incorporate regularly with my clients are shown below. Don’t forget, the best way to achieve successful results is to test, test and test again!

1) A/B creative test – With A/B creative tests you will need two versions of your creative. Each creative version could be configured with: A different layout, different images, different copy text or different positions for call to actions. How you make the two versions unique is up to you. The differences could be minimal or huge but you should pick one element to test at a time. There is no right or wrong methodology here.

2) A/B male / female test – With the A/B male / female test, you could; have two versions of your creative, one for male and the other for female with relevant content for each version. You could simply opt to use two different subject lines. Ideally, with this kind of test you should make the male version relevant to the male market and the female version relevant to the female market.

3) A/B geographic test – First off, you need to select two or more geographic regions. Let’s say north and south for example. Target your message accordingly for each region by using relevant images, subject titles and calls to action.

4) A/B Active vs. Inactive test – Inactive subscribers exist in every marketing database. The key to converting inactive subscribers is to segment your database in to active / inactive and target the inactive segment with tempting offers. Everyone wants to convert inactive subscribers to revenue-generating customers. Instead of sending a generic email to both segments, create a version specifically for inactive users by using eye catching subject titles and special offers to temp customers back.

5) A/B Generic vs. targeted message – Broadcasting a generic message to your entire database is easy. One creative, one subject title, one broadcast and one set of reports. The problem with generic messages is they simply don’t hit the spot with many recipients. When you start to test targeted messages against generic messages you will see a clear difference in opens and conversions. Targeted messages should be highly relevant to your recipient’s interests. Message relevance is key to achieving higher open rates and conversions.

Follow my simple rule. Make sure the basics are covered before you try and conquer the world.  There are endless combinations of testing techniques – try as many as you can, Invest as much time as you can to generate valuable return on investment. In the mean time, enjoy the industry music. It’s everywhere, it’s free and it’s a great way to pick up hints and tips to help you succeed.

What testing do you perform on your email campaigns? What results have you achieved? Leave us a comment below and let us know!