A prototype is usually an early product version used to showcase a future project (usually to raise funds or create hype). There are many advantages to using prototypes in your marketing strategy, starting with the fact that it helps your customers and investors see the product that they might have trouble otherwise visualizing.
It also helps you validate some ideas by seeing how they work out in practice. The same is true for your UI design and the overall UX that comes from it.
Still, do you know that you can use prototype testing as a strategic email campaign tool? Well, there are two major ways to do so.
First, your emails also have a UI design whose effectiveness may determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. You can experiment with different templates and create various UI prototypes for your emails, and then A/B tests them to see which gives the best result.
Second, people want exclusive (read new) content and information. Early access to a new product or a service can be a strong motivator to follow the link. In other words, there are a lot of ways that the offer of a prototype or a demonstration of a prototype (in some scenarios, even a chance to participate in early alpha) can boost your email marketing efforts quite drastically.
With that in mind and without further ado, here’s how this form of innovation could have a completely transformative effect on your email marketing campaigns.
The first way in which you can use prototyping tools in your campaign is in the creation of new templates. Each email template has its UI, which will determine its UX and, subsequently, its CTR.
Ideally, we recommend against just trying to “wing it” and manually making these templates (at least if you aim for optimal efficiency). Instead, learn more about email template builders and their numerous features. This way, you’ll not just have a quick way to build a prototype email UI from scratch but also repeat this cycle and make slight alterations (for the sake of A/B testing).
There are a few things to keep in mind when making templates. First, you don’t have as much freedom as you do with the website or app UI. An email is a more formal format, which means that you often have restraints in terms of layout and content.
At the same time, you can experiment with underutilized (yet insanely effective) email marketing ideas like using more video and animation. When used right, these can drastically increase your CTR. We’re talking about 300% higher CTR, which is an incredible increase. Still, the accent is on “used right,” it’s not just that you can slap any kind of video and integrate it in any way possible.
As far as creating the layout goes, after you’ve chosen a template builder, set the canvas size (ideally 600-800 pixels), and plan the layout, you get to have some fun and let the creative side in you shine. Always take into consideration the responsiveness. After all, your emails will be opened on so many different screen sizes (a huge portion on mobile devices).
A lot of people talk about A/B testing your emails, but this only works when you already have a template and plan to introduce slight changes or have two templates that you can’t choose between. What if you just have a concept and not a concrete offer? You need to start building hype, but you don’t have anything to build this hype around.
Now, there are a lot of misconceptions about prototypes. Sure, people understand the fact that the majority of bugs won’t be there at release. They’re willing to let even some of the biggest mistakes slide, but this doesn’t mean you can release just about anything to the public and use the excuse that it’s the prototype.
The prototype is the earliest serviceable version of the product (with an accent on serviceable). So, before launching, you need to test prototypes with this list of tools and ensure they’re ready to be sent.
Generally speaking, the success rate of an email marketing campaign is measured through a CTR, and this will already happen (or won’t happen) before they can check out your prototype. Still, when it comes to the campaign’s purpose, you want an overall higher UX. This will result in the number of positive impressions, return visits, etc.
The hardest part of any email marketing campaign is the first time you reach out to someone. After a first successful interaction, they have a much higher chance to open your emails, respond, or interact with your CTA. A prototype is a unique offer that might interest them enough to indulge you.
In the next section, we’ll talk a bit more about how you can convince people to participate.
Convincing people to take part in your early access or try out your prototype is not a simple matter. Sure, with premium services and long-awaited sequels of video games, people are willing to do anything to get a chance to partake in the experience. When it’s a new product or offer, you need to apply a bit of strategy when it comes to convincing them.
You need to lead with the value for them. How do they stand to benefit from it?
This is the first point, and it’s a situation where you need to be quite customer-centric. People care what you can do for them, not vice versa.
Still, to create a compelling offer, you must first know who you’re talking to. This is why hiring the right business analysts can have a transformative effect on your brand as a whole.
Another thing you could use is the promise of exclusivity. The key thing to remember here is that people love preferential treatment. You can even combine this with the FOMO to create an irresistible offer.
The biggest problem with creating a teaser for this prototype is that you probably don’t have much to show. This means you’ll have to “announce” some future features, but here, you’re treading on dangerous ground. Don’t make any promises that you’re unsure if you can keep.
While partaking is a reward on its own (at least, it should be), you might want to consider offering an extra incentive just so that you maximize your outcomes.
This is still an email marketing campaign, so you must know how to determine its efficacy. When it came to traditional marketing, things were quite complex. You had to evaluate the efficacy of your marketing campaign based on your revenue increase, which, although it makes sense, is very crude and inaccurate.
Ultimately, each of these KPIs follows another step on the customer lifecycle journey, and it’s essential for your overall email marketing.
Lastly, remember that while this campaign is unique, it’s not unfair to measure it against standard email campaigns. This is the only way that you’ll see if leveraging these prototypes gives the desired effect or not and whether using it makes sense. In other words, you’re not just A/B testing individual email layouts; you’re testing whether this kind of email automation is worth doing.
By Srdjan Gombar
Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.