If your impression of marketing is solely informed by episodes of Mad Men, you might think that artistic intuition and good luck with luck are all you need to succeed. Despite Don Draper’s fictional achievements, modern marketers need to be creative and analytical at the same time.
In fact, in today’s digital age, data is the driving force behind any modern marketing campaign.
And one of the best methods to collect this data is A / B testing – especially when it comes to email.
This process has the power to increase the open rates, clickthrough rates, and conversion rates of your emails, ultimately giving you more sales and revenue. In this guide, we explain how you can implement step by step an A / B test email marketing strategy in future campaigns.
What are A / B tests?
In short, A / B testing (also known as split testing) is the process of sending two versions of an email to a subset of your subscribers.
Half of the subset receives e-mail A, while the other half receives e-mail B.
The two versions of your e-mail A / B test may look very similar, but they contain a small variation, e.g. Another:
Subject line Layout CTA images Copy length Kopitone Opinions Transmission time
Once your subscribers have had enough time to interact with these two emails, you can compare their open rate, clickthrough rate, or conversion rate (depending on which metric you are trying to optimize). After identifying the email that works best, you can send this version to the rest of your subscriber list.
The power of A / B testing
You may have an idea of what will capture your audience and win their conversions, but unless you test it, you never know with confidence.
A / B testing is a sure way to find out what your audience responds well to. You may be surprised that they prefer other things than you originally assumed.
Despite the simplicity of e-mail A / B testing and its many benefits, 39% of brands do not use it yet.1 Neglecting this effective technique means that your e-mail testing campaign may not reach its full potential . In return, you can miss out on lots of business. By A / B testing your e-mail campaigns in the future, you can capture more customers and gain an advantage over your competitors.
How to run an A / B email test
If you are ready to apply this game-changing technique, just follow these steps:
# 1 Determine your sample size
As with any scientific experiment, you need a sufficient sample size to provide statistically significant results.
Your subscriber list dictates your available sample size:
Large subscriber list – If your subscriber list is extensive, you can first test your two emails on a smaller subset of people. For example, you can send 10% of your subscriber list one version of the email and another 10% the other version. Once the results have come in, you can send the better version to the remaining 80%. List of small subscribers – If your e-mail list is on the smaller page, you can perform A / B tests on your entire audience and divide the recipients 50/50. This ensures that your results are representative of your entire audience.
# 2 Configure your selected software
Many email software offers built-in A / B testing features, such as Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and Active Campaign.
Their A / B testing software allows you to send a different version of your email to two subsets of your subscribers. Once the results have been received, the winning version of the email will be automatically sent to the rest of your subscriber list.
If you do not use these email software tools, you can run your A / B test manually. All you have to do is incorporate email segmentation into your subscriber list into two sections and send a different version of the email to each one. Then you need to analyze their performance manually.
# 3 Choose your variables
Next, it’s time to brainstorm what specific changes can improve your email performance and email availability. Maybe you suspect that the subject line may be snappier. Or maybe you think a customization can inspire more conversions.
Choose a change that you think has the greatest potential for improving your campaign, and add it to the B version of your original email.
Here are a few aspects of your email that you can run A / B tests on:
Your email subject line can make or break your open rate. If you can not get subscribers to open your email, all your hard work with its design and copy will be wasted.
Here are a few tweaks you can implement while testing subject lines to see how they affect your email open rate:
Rearrange the order of the words in your subject line Put the subject line as a question Include numbers or emojis Play around with capital letters Test different subject line lengths Use language that creates a greater sense of urgency Add more personalization
According to research, personalization of subject lines is one of the most powerful tools you can use to improve the open rate of your emails. It has been shown to increase open rates by up to 14%! 2
Another factor that can affect the speed of opening your email is its preload text. This text appears as a continuation of your subject line in your readers’ inbox.
In other words, preface text gives you even more room to capture readers’ attention and inspire them to click.
One last factor that can affect the open speed of your email is the name of the sender. This is the e-mail address from which you send your e-mail and which is displayed in your recipients’ “From” field.
During an A / B test, you can send an email from a real person at your company (firstname.lastname@example.org), rather than the company name (email@example.com).
Forging this kind of personal connection from the start might be what you need to get more readers to click.
Call for action (CTA)
Once a subscriber has opened your email, the next goal is to get them to click on your CTA. For this reason, your CTA is one of the most important features of A / B testing.
You can test your CTAs:
Copy font Text size Uppercase letter Button color Location Frequency ie email
You know your CTA changes will work if they result in multiple clicks.
When it comes to your email design, your audience preferences may be different from your own. Some subscribers like many images, while others prefer plain text.
Find out what your audience likes by experimenting with different images. You can A / B test:
Pictures vs plain text A single picture vs. more pictures Drawings vs. real photos Animated GIFs against still images Colorful images vs.
While it may take several split tests to narrow down exactly what works best with your audience, this level of precision can help you design highly optimized email campaigns that resonate with them.
Length and copy tone
Most people have very short attention span, especially when it comes to reading marketing material. Microsoft discovered that the average person’s attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2021.3 As a reference, goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds.
The jury is still out on whether TikTok or Instagram are to blame for this attention deficit. What we do know is that your email copy should grab the readers’ attention right away. Otherwise you lose lots of potential clicks.
You can increase the efficiency of your copy by A / B testing its:
Headlines – The first copy line of your email should capture the readers’ attention, otherwise they will not spend another second scanning the page.
Length – Shorter copy may promise better for the audience with short attention intervals. Make sure every word in your email highlights the value of your offer and guides readers to your CTA. Tone – The tone of your copy should resonate with your target audience to get them engaged. Whether your brand is friendly or authoritative, studies have shown that using positive language improves email engagement
E-mail A / B test: Mix of the art and science of e-mail marketing
As you can see, A / B testing is a straightforward process – it is also an ongoing and time consuming process. We have only outlined a few of the factors you can test with this process. You can also A / B test different broadcast times, testimonials, layout and more.
As you gather more data about your audience’s preferences, you become an expert at delivering the emails they love. And you know statistically what gives the most success. In that sense, you can consider yourself a 21st century data-driven Don Draper.
If you’re looking for more support to maximize the effectiveness of your email campaign – or your great marketing strategy – we can help. Are you looking for additional help with SMS compliance or SMS marketing? Our digital marketing agency has the expertise and tools needed to optimize your marketing efforts and expand your reach.
Lakmus. 13 E-mail A / B Test errors that limit your success. https://www.litmus.com/blog/email-ab-testing-mistakes-that-limit-your-success/ Campaign Monitor. 70 Email Marketing Statistics That Every Marketer Should Know. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/70-email-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/ The Telegraph. Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smart/ Campaign Monitor. What is a good email clickthrough rate for 2019? https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/what-is-a-good-email-click-through-rate-for-2019/