So I was really looking forward to running a pretty simple copy length test – long vs. short copy.
However, the interpretation was anything but simple. In fact, at first I thought there wasn’t a significant difference between the control and treatment…until we dove down a little deeper.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me set the test up for you…
Control: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah
The email send was announcing the call for entries for MarketingSherpa’s 7th Annual Email Marketing Awards, sponsored by Responsys. As you can see, the copy is quite long, as we try to cram in many details about the awards from the Grand Prize trip for two to Email Summit 2012 in Las Vegas to the fact that there is no entry fee, before ending with the final call-to-action link – nominate your best email work today.
For the treatment, Senior Reporter Adam Sutton hit the high points, added in an “And so much more …” and gave them the CTA link. Bim, bam, boom.
…and then we waited with bated breath for the results. As a writer, I felt that surely copy length matters. Words do matter, don’t they? People still read what we write, correct?
And then the let down of all let downs, I got to feel like a soccer fan for a day – a tie. A totally unfulfilling ending. There was no significant difference.
But here is why test interpretation is so important. What I did very next was extremely fateful….
I complained to Adam Lapp.
Our optimization and strategy research manager looked at the click maps and noticed something that I hadn’t – the “More Recent MarketingSherpa Headlines” links at the bottom of the newsletters seemed to be getting more clicks in the shorter email.
We were going into extra innings! This was no longer soccer, we now had ourselves a ballgame. We were going to have a winner, even if we had to get the second basemen to pitch to do it.
I reached out to our marketing technology expert, Zlatko Papic, and sure enough there was a difference in the emails.
When looking at total clicks, for the longer email, only about half of the links were clicked at least once. For the shorter email, every single link was clicked at least once (actually, the minimum was six clicks).
And looking at the total clicks gave us a clear winner with exactly twice as many total clicks…
What you need to understand
While most email marketing optimizers focus on unique clickthroughs instead of total clickthroughs for good reason (one rabid fan might just be particularly “click-happy”), total clicks may be a valuable metric as well in some instances.
In our case, what we learned was that shorter copy for the main call-to-action gives our secondary calls-to-action a chance to shine. In the short-copy treatment, there was less repeat clicks on a single link, and more overall diversity of clicks.
I would hypothesize that many readers might have clicked a secondary link first, since the secondary links had greater attention from a shorter main call-to-action, and then came back to the email to learn about the main CTA (entry into the Email Awards).
In our case, while we certainly had a primary objective CTA, I’m just as happy if a reader clicks on a recent article as that primary objective CTA. This was, after all, the MarketingSherpa Email Newsletter, not a marketing send. While we might have had a primary objective CTA, when we step back and look at the big picture, our real primary objective is just to engage with the audience.
And I think that’s the biggest takeaway form this test for me. When any of many objectives will do, make it easy for those secondary objectives to be found. Shorter copy for the main objective is one way to do that.
When one key objective is really important to you, give it greater emphasis. Either with more copy (and perhaps images) and thus more real estate in a newsletter, or by stripping out as many competing objectives as possible in your email template.
Email Awards Entry Page (deadline: September 16, 2011)
Responsys – MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Awards sponsor