Marketers: Use empathy to test your email

There is no substitute for data to understand how your audience might react to an email. But sometimes you don’t have access to the right data. Your audience may be too small for a statistically significant split-test. Maybe you don’t have time or resources to run a split-test. Here’s a trick that uses your natural empathy to understand how your audience may react:

  1. Send yourself a test version of the email, but schedule it to be sent to you AFTER you’ve gone to sleep – perhaps even to a personal email account instead of your work email.
  2. If your email software allows, make sure that the subject line of your test email doesn’t contain anything like “PREVIEW” or “TEST.” Make sure that your experience receiving the email will be as much as possible like your audience’s experience.
  3. Forget you queued up the test. Schedule a time to come back to the task of finishing your email, but pay attention to other things. Go home and go to sleep.

The next day, when you receive your “test” email, it should surprise you. Pay attention to your first reaction. Does the subject line make you want to open it? Does you understand what the email is saying? Do you find it motivational?

Getting some distance from your “writer” self will put you more in touch with your own, authentic reaction to the email. This will help you revise it to better accomplish your aim.