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A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns

Marketing might sound like a tough job but, in all honesty, I believe it is one of the most creative fields and one thing that keeps it interesting is the fact that there is no full stop in this game. You think of a new idea and if it really works, you can literally take the business to the next level. When it comes to email marketing, we all know that it has a higher conversion rate as compared to all other inbound channels but in order to get the maximum benefit out of it, it is important to test your email marketing campaigns from time to time and see which one works the best for you.

A/B Testing Feature

A/B testing is the most simple and significant method available in order to optimize the email marketing campaigns. In this system, you craft two versions of the email and send one of them to half of the email list while the other one to the rest and see the results after which, you analyze and select the email that gets more open rate and conversions and then proceed accordingly. In most of the email marketing software, they have a split testing feature available so you can always test using that software only and should not go for other tools.

When it comes to an email, it is recommended to run A/B testing for your email marketing campaigns so that one can get the best possible outcome, increase revenue and grow the subscribers’ list accordingly.

What to Test?

Obviously the end goal is to see which sample of the email adds more dollars to the revenue and on a secondary level, which email receives better clicks, opening rates and conversions. Although, these are the parameters on which the success or the failure of the campaign depends, there are certain other things that you can employ when it comes to email marketing.

1. Subject Line
When your email reaches the recipient’s inbox, the subject line is the first thing that grabs his/her attention making him/her decide if they should be opening the email or not. You can play around with different kinds of subject lines so as to see which one works best for you.

2. The Right “From” Name
This strategy has undergone a lot of changes over a period of time. There was a time when emails containing an email address such as usually received  better click through rates; however, in today’s times, it is recommended by the experts to use a real name instead, as people want to interact with real people rather than with the sales department. Test and see what strategy works for your audience.

3. Email Content
You can test almost each and everything being mentioned in the email content, which includes title, call to actions, length of the email, and placement of offers. You can even send two completely different emails to two different sets and see which one is more convertible for your audience. Don’t test everything all at once but try to do it step by step and see what kind of format is suitable for your subscribers and send emails accordingly. Remember, you will never stop hunting for new subscribers, and therefore, running an A/B testing on your email should not stop as well.

4. Delivery time
This refers to the most preferable day of the week or the hour of the day meant for rolling out your email marketing campaigns. You need to check out and determine if it’s the Monday morning when people usually check your emails or if they check them over the weekend. Divide your email list into two different sets and assign a specific delivery time and day for each set to see which one has a better opening rate, CTR or which one offers better conversions.

How to Test

In the above-mentioned section, I have discussed about what should we be testing in the email marketing campaign. Now that we are well aware of the success parameters, the real question is to determine the ways by which these features could be tested for achieving the long term email marketing success.

It is always important to prepare some tough questions for yourself and answer them with the data and results you have achieved instead of relying upon your gut feelings. When it comes to email marketing, few of the questions that I think contains value are:

  1. Which call to action button produces better conversions?
  2. Which email subject line results in a better open rate?
  3. Which version of the email offers better sales (light colors or dark colors)?
  4. What is the best day to send email to your audience?
  5. Which hour of the day signifies the best open rate and CTR?

Ask these questions to yourself and answer them with the data you have got for your audience and prepare the action plan accordingly.

One at a time

As discussed above, there are several things that can be tested while performing A/B testing on your emails; however, it is better to go with one at a time. If you are testing the subject line of your emails, try to keep others as constant or else your results will be contaminated.

Random division of email list

In order to split test, you need to divide your email list into two equal parts; however, the only thing that you should consider is to make it random instead of creating it around some pattern like date of joining, age, sex, etc. as this will only affect your results in the end. There could be many other things to consider but the above-mentioned points are the most important ones that you should be knowing while getting your hands dirty with split testing.

Result Analysis

Sounds simple but in my opinion, the toughest part of the whole A/B testing game is determining results and planning your actions accordingly.

The results will be simple and clear, only if you are lucky but in ground reality, the numbers will be quite complex and in order to determine results, you need to focus on multiple aspects.

Here in the result section, there is no rule and there are tons of theories, which somehow intersect each other at some point. There are people who think that better opening rate should be the primary focus while there are those who believe conversions and revenue to be the ultimate goal of the email. There is another group of people who believe that engagement of the subscriber with the email should be the main focus.

I am not going to deny any of these but accepting only one of them as correct won’t be a good decision either. I believe, in order to answer your questions, you have to set your priorities and take it from there accordingly.

For instance, if you want people to convert into customers through email marketing campaign, then your focal metrics will be different than the ones that you have defined when you want them to click and read your new blog post.

The idea is to see what is important to you and proceed with the campaign accordingly. Happy Testing!

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