Marginal gains – it’s not just for professional cyclists

How  attention to detail can improve email performance

Congratulations to Dave Brailsford on winning Coach of the Year at last night’s  BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. The mastermind behind the success of the GB Cycling Team and Team Sky joked that the opposition were convinced they were using “magic wheels”. Clare Balding, who handed over his gong, attributed it to how he tries to improve everything by a little percentage.

The theory is that you break down everything you think could impact on how you ride a bike and try to improve it by 1%, when you put all the little percentages together it makes a big difference to the overall performance. Dave calls it the “aggregation of marginal gains”.

When a client recently asked us to review the performance of their email marketing programme it occurred to me that our recommendations followed very similar principles.

We started by carrying out a detailed analysis of the copy and imagery used in recent emails and compared the impact of minor differences on results. We identified several immediate areas to work on e.g. subject lines, from lines, repeat rates, calls to action etc. We proposed a testing programme which will over the next few emails enable us to make lots of minor tweaks that will end up making significant improvements  all round.

Call it marginal gains or just plain old-fashioned attention to detail –  it’s something AHK has always made an essential component of its email marketing programmes.

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