"[T]here is altogether too much guessing and not enough proving in email marketing," says Stephanie Miller in a post at the MarketingProfs Daily Fox blog. "With inboxes overflowing, subscriber fatigue growing and competition from social networks increasing, it's no longer enough to broadcast out your best guess as to what will motivate and inspire and engage." But despite the manifest benefits of testing, a lot of us seem to have missed the memo.

According to a 2008 study by Jupiter Research, only 40 percent of email marketers tested their campaigns on a regular basis—and those who did were rewarded by an average 25 percent improvement in response rates. Compelling, no?

So what keeps marketers from testing? Perhaps they worry about lost revenue, fear becoming more accountable for mistakes, or dread having to defend a potentially incorrect analysis of data, Miller says. The situation is often complicated, she notes, "by a lack of testing methodology, no strong starting point or low statistical intelligence."

During a panel Miller hosted at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer, Sarah Welcome, director of customer intelligence for International Data Group, had this advice for those who let their fear of testing hold them back:

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