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6 years ago 5 min read

A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns – Useful Tips

Usability Tools

Usability Tools

A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns is a fairly new thing. Knowing the impact A/B testing can have on improving conversion rates, A/B Split tests should be an often-used-weapon in every conversion optimizer’s arsenal. Even small changes to the email structure, text or even sending time can have a huge impact on how your subscribers behave. Here are some useful tips to use A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns.

A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns – do I really need it?

Are you making objective (data-driven) or subjective (opinion-based) decisions? Most marketers are relying on their gut to make changes to their email program. The majority are doing no testing whatsoever. Stop gambling with your email program profitability.

– Barry Stamos,

These words are the best answer that anyone can give on why A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns is needed. Most people, in general, not only marketers, are making decisions based on a hunch, that gut instinct that tells them whether to do something or not.

Even if you are an expert in the field or even if you hire the best people to do the job for you, making decisions based on inner feelings is not a good idea.

The entire conversion optimization and customer enhancement process is based on careful planning, executing and measuring what works and what doesn’t. In other words, you can’t measure feelings – you need basic data to tell definitively whether your marketing actions drive real results.

According to Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email marketing campaigns are one of the biggest sellers and conversion drivers to the business, and returns $41 for every dollar spent on email marketing. This means that Email marketing generates around 4000% ROI.

A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns
A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns – Only 39% of marketers do A/B Split Tests of their email marketing messages | stats

Yet, only 39% of marketers do A/B Split Tests of their email marketing messages and around 38% of them don’t check or analyze any stats of their email marketing campaigns.

Just imagine how much money your business drains by not using email marketing as part of your growth strategy and by not testing what generates the best results.

What specific information can you get from A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns?

  • What are your most popular offers?
  • Do your promotional email activities drive better results than non-promotional?
  • What is the best day of the week to get the most out of your campaigns?
  • What is the best time to send email to your subscribers?
  • Are Call To Actions are working and which are working better?
  • Are your emails opened – maybe some subject lines work better than others?
  • Does including images work better for conversion than plain text messages?
  • How many people would unsubscribe from your list if you’d used more sales-driven language in the text?

The list above is just an example of what you may find out after running A/B Tests of your email marketing campaigns. The possibilities of what useful information you may get are endless, so get busy!

A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns – how to do it?

First, you will need to decide on the two most important things. Without clearly indicating these, there is no point in trying to test:

1.Choose what you want to test

You can chose from a number of things to test in your messages and campaigns. Here are just a few examples of what you can test:

  • Time (day of the week and exact hour)
  • Subject lines (texts, personalization)
  • Call To Actions (color, size, texts)
  • Headlines (texts, size, color, personalization)
  • Images (different variations of stock images)
  • Videos (how adding them will affect your results)
  • Layouts (different styles, colors, designs)
  • Promotional offers and content (which drive better results)

Because the possible combinations are endless, you should always choose one element to test every single time. Only in this way will you determine which element drives better results. By testing combinations you won’t have a chance to pin-point the exact reason of change.

2.Choose how you will measure success

Depending on the problem you have or the type of knowledge you would like to gain it is wise to first choose how you will measure the success of your testing. You can determine this by:

  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Conversion
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Revenue

Deciding this in advance is crucial and depends on the type of information you want to get. For example if you want to test what day and time it is best to send messages to your subscribers, you will judge it by open rate or if you want to check which message got you the most subscriptions you will evaluate this by conversion rate.

A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns – Example

How to run such tests? It’s easier than you think:

    • Decide what you want to test
    • Decide how you will measure it
    • Create a control version of your message – message A
    • Create a slightly altered version you will test message A against – message B
    • Send both messages to yourself and check if they display fine. Fix them if needed
    • Send the messages to your control target group, at the same time on the same day
    • Run your test (you can do it many different ways: by using special HTML code you put in the message and then track results, by using specialized online email testing tools or by using email provider that gives you the opportunity to do it via your account)
    • Collect the results and draw conclusions
A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns - Example
A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns – Example

As you can see above, based on the results of a Call To Action A/B Test sent to total of 20 thousands subscribers, version B of CTA made more people convert than version A. The simple conclusion is that you should use version B in the future when sending to the entire target group.

If you have never tried to use A/B Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns, you should do it as soon as you can. Just ask yourself whether you can afford to base your email marketing decisions on feelings and hunches rather than on real data.

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