Had to pass this along, an excellent presentation by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of Marketing Experiments from the 2010 Marketing Sherpa Email Summit: The Five Best Ways to Optimize Email Response.
Via the Marketing Experiments Blog
In just 45 minutes you'll see case studies for email creative, sending frequency, subject lines and headlines and some valuable live optimization for Summit attendees. You’ll be surprised which tests drove the highest click through and revenue – which is what your email marketing ultimately is trying to achieve.
Here's an example. Pier 1 Imports wanted to improve click through rate for its control below:
3 top design agencies tried to come up with a winning creative. They are all beautiful (and my gut was that one or more would outperform), yet none of them outperformed the control. In fact, they all had a significant decrease in click through:
Often it's the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person in the Organization) that decides which creative "wins" the challenge, without any testing. Design approvals are made so often made on gut feel, and watching Dr. McGlaughlin's presentation is a wake up call for why "best practices are not enough. It is essential to work within a rigorous methodology."
Go on, check out the presentation!