Aug 6, 2012

Steve Spangler Science Experiments With Inbox Inspector, Optimizes for Mobile, Increases ROI by 50%

Steve Spangler is "a science author, teacher, professional speaker, toy designer, and an Emmy award-winning television personality," but the bottom line is that he does experiments for a living. Sometimes these experiments occur in his lab, other times on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and occasionally, in Major League Baseball stadiums (but more on that in a second). He began his scientific career as an elementary school teacher, but then expanded to include all of the above, eventually resulting in Steve Spangler Science, his Denver-based company that makes science toys for kids and science experiments for teachers. With the help of the Colorado Rockies and more than 5,000 kids, he set the Guinness record for the world’s largest physics lesson in 2009. In preparation for the big day, he and his team made "solar sausages," blew up some stuff with liquid nitrogen, and reiterated, over and over, do not try this at home.

But wait, what does all of this craziness have to do with email marketing?

"At Steve Spangler Science, we love experiments," Creative Director Shawn Campbell says. That much seems obvious, but their love carries over to email, too. "Inbox Inspector allows us to experiment with email design without comprising deliverability, usability, or optimization."

Shawn says before Inbox Inspector, the Spangler email testing process was much more work intensive. "We had to create email accounts with various service providers in order to test designs across the multitude of email clients, browsers, and operating systems," he tells us. "The process was mind-numbingly tedious, and required so much work that we questioned if it was worth the effort. That’s about the time that Inbox Inspector became our trusted lab assistant for the email-design process."

The Spangler list is mobile heavy, with readers receiving campaigns through Hotmail, Yahoo! and Outlook, to name a few. "Knowing that so many of our subscribers are using mobile devices has encouraged us to redesign our template," Shawn says. "This time with media queries to ensure the best experience possible on any device. Once again, Inbox Inspector will be our assistant."

Like a lot of folks, Spangler’s team is discovering the benefit of optimizing for mobile. This is one of the many reasons we conducted our recent Email on Mobile Devices study, poring over industry numbers, watching actual humans read email on their phones, and laying out some best practices for mobile email. It all comes down to serving your readers, which is what Steve Spangler Science hopes to better achieve through Inbox Inspector experimentation.

From a pesky extra space below in images in Gmail to focusing on non-Mac readers in an exclusively-Mac work environment, from balancing their campaigns’ image-to-text ratio to lessening their overall email workflow, the Spangler team found tons of room for improvement simply by incorporating Inbox Inspector into their campaign-creation process. And by making their customers happy through easy-to-read email, they in turn make their business happy as well.

"When you can improve the recipient’s experience, you can improve the campaign’s performance," Shawn says. "Comparing stats for two recent campaigns—one that didn’t utilize Inbox Inspector and one that did—we find substantial improvements: clicks doubled, complaints dropped by a third, and ROI increased by about 50%. Running Inbox Inspector provided our team with valuable information so we could improve the campaign’s design. We want our subscribers to love every interaction they have with our company. Because of such improvements, our subscribers welcome another email from us into their inbox, and we’re able to communicate and achieve our business objectives better than before."

Additional resources:

Inbox Inspector feature page

Blog: Inbox Inspections Now Free

Email on Mobile Devices: A MailChimp Study

MailChimp’s feature case studies