Ben Settle

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Your Daily Email Addiction

File under: Email Marketing

A Long time reader once wrote in:

I do email marketing for a financial company. Can I just say that split testing is mostly BS? I looked back at 50+ split tests of email subject lines, images, link types, etc. And in only 3 of them was there a meaningful difference in open and click rates. It makes me think that people who go crazy testing “sign up” vs “register” are wasting their time.

And when I look at revenues, you know which emails worked? The ones that offer good products from a trusted source at a reasonable price.

Everything else is nonsense.

When you split test dog shit, you just get 2 piles of dog shit.


I learned a long time ago the futility of screwing around with testing HTML vs plain text, or creating tables for the boomers with giant monitors whining to me about how “the sentences are too long to read on my big screen!” when all they have to do is shrink their email reader window… or using fancy templates, or inserting images/pictures, or embedding hyper links into words, or split testing subject lines against each other, or any of that.

I simply write, and send, and sales show up.

Takes maybe 10-15 minutes on average.

Would I make more sales doing the above things?

In my experience it’s never been worth justifying the extra time investment.

Even back in my client work days, writing fast and making my emails look plain text — like they are coming from a friend at a glance — worked far better than caring about all the new technological bells and whistles.


Every computer scientist and engineer I’ve asked about this (who know how much discipline and patience it takes to do a for real scientific test) has told me the pointlessness of testing open rates as any kind of indication of sales, and how unreliable it is.

That’s not to say you should or shouldn’t.

But in my experience, whatever your preferences are… it’s far more important to be grounded in the principles of direct response marketing first, and in all the high tech wizardry second.

For example:

I remember when the Obama team revealed their campaign (2008) email tests.

And while they brought in something like $600 million in donations using email (far more than they did with social media, contrary to public social media goo-roo opinion), they could have saved a lot of time and money and energy by simply bringing people who already knew the basics of direct response marketing to do the emails, instead of bringing in people who had to “test” their way into learning even the most basic ideas I teach in my “Email Skh?ma Book” and the “Email Players” newsletter.

I reckon they’d have brought in a helluva lot more, too.

Ah well.

This testing indifference is one reason I’m the skid-mark on the underwear of email marketing.

If you want to join me in the hamper, go here:

Ben Settle

  • Book & Tabloid Newsletter Publisher
  • Email Supremacist
  • Alt-Copywriter
  • Software Investor
  • Pulp Novelist

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