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How to Leverage a Test and Learn Strategy to Optimize Your Holiday Email Campaigns

Let’s face it, as marketers, we have no shortage of data, but we might lack a strategy to leverage that data. As the holidays are quickly approaching, it is the perfect time to implement a test and learn strategy for your email campaigns.

Also, don’t just think of the holiday season as a singular event to plan for. Although they might not be huge shopping events alone this time of the year, there are a string of holiday events including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, St. Nicholas Day, Ugly Sweater Day, etc. so you’ve got lots of reasons to email buyers. Here are five keys to leveraging data and a test and learn agenda to make sure you are optimizing your email campaigns throughout the entire holiday season:

1. Start with what you know about your customer

If you do not have robust segmentation, create some simple segments leveraging what you know and have access to. Examples include: high value customers, high value seasonal customers, customers who have made a purchase, the products you are trying to push, top selling products, etc. Then figure out what data you must identify and segment these groups. Most likely this will require reaching out to other teams. Limit and prioritize the segments as much as possible.

2. Create a test list

Once you have the “who”, come up with a list of things you want to test. This is the ideation phase and quantity is more important than quality at this point. Ideally you only have a couple segments, but you should have a large list of testing ideas for each. Some testing ideas may be a personalized subject line, targeted offers, frequency of messaging, etc. Also think about proven email strategies to test for your customers like providing customer reviews, highlighting top selling products, limited offer messaging etc.

3. Next step is prioritization

Develop some sort of prioritization criteria. It can be simple like high, medium, and low value, or a combination of high, medium, low value and effort. Another quick method is the PIE Framework developed by Widerfunnel. “PIE” stands for Potential, Importance and Ease.

No matter the criteria you use to prioritize during the holiday season you should focus on those high value test ideas to capitalize on the holiday season buzz.

4. Testing execution

Once you have your list, you can move on to execution. The first step here is to create a test brief for each test idea and a planning schedule. This will most likely require collaboration with other teams. The test brief should include the test idea, the test plan, the expected outcome, creative and tech requirements, as well as measures of success.  Once the test briefs are complete, typically a few test ideas get deprioritized due to feedback from other teams.

5. Analyze your email campaign tests

The final stage is the analysis post-test.  Because you have set up the measures of success in the test brief you should know what metrics you need to pull in. It is also key to keep a repository of results so you can build a repeatable test and learn agenda for next year.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle’s Email Optimization Kickstart and Audience Segmentation Framework to learn how we can help you align to a specific segmentation approach and connect email tactics with broader customer value metrics.

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