Run A/B Tests to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaign

email ab testing

Every email marketing campaign is influenced by a number of variables that we cannot control. Regardless, a good email marketer should make all efforts to optimize results and find the best strategy for future email campaigns.

One of the best ways to increase performance and conversion is through testing and, in particular, using a technique called A/B testing.  A/B testing consists of comparing two versions of an email where only one element is varied, and choosing two random samples of your list. Send half of the list one version of the email, and send a second version to the other half. Without thorough, ongoing testing you can never be sure that your email campaigns are working as well as they should be.

Testing the various elements of your email marketing messages is the best way to tweak your strategy and make sure every dollar you spend on marketing is a dollar well spent.

Of course some elements are more important than others when it comes to email marketing, and some elements are easier to test than others. Focusing your efforts on the most important elements means less wasted effort, and less wasted money.

Why is it Important to Run A/B Tests?

Performing periodic A/B tests on your emails is the best way to ensure that your campaigns are working effectively and that you are not wasting money and risking your reputation on things that simply do not work. As an email marketer, you already know how fast things change. A strategy that worked perfectly a month ago may no longer be as effective. Seemingly minor changes to search engines and email protocols can have a major impact on email marketers. Without proper testing, you can never know if you are doing great or falling further and further behind.

Testing various elements of your emails is also a great way to stay one step ahead of the competition. You can never stand still in the world of business, and constantly tweaking and improving your marketing message can help keep you on top campaign after campaign..

What Elements Can be Tested in Your Emails?

While you no doubt take great care with every part of your email marketing message, there are a number of elements that respond especially well to A/B testing. Focusing your testing on these elements will give you the best return on your investment and make it easier to further tweak and refine your message.

1. Subject line – the subject line is the heart of any email marketing message, and it should be a frequent target of A/B testing. A few simple changes here can have a profound impact on your open rate.  For instance, testing the subject line with special characters or symbols and without can give you real concrete results you can use going forward.

2. From line – the From line is nearly as important as the subject. Be sure to test various iterations, including company name, personal names, brand names, etc. Things like male vs. female names, brand names vs. company names, etc. can have a big impact. It is best to not get too creative with the subject line, however, since changing names is a favorite trick of the spammers. Finding the best from line and staying consistent is generally the best strategy.

3. Length of Message – the message length should also be the subject of testing. While many marketers simply assume that shorter is better, this is not always the case. Testing various message lengths is the only way to know for sure.

4. Call to action – the call to action should be tested extensively, including things like the font size, text color, placement and other factors. Testing each of these elements individually and as a group will help you improve your call to action – and your response rate. Experimenting with the call to action gives you a chance to test various offers, like free shipping vs. a discount or free bonus product.

5. Delivery time – the date and time of receipt can play a huge role and have a large impact on your open rates. Finding the optimal delivery time is not easy, and that is why experimenting with various options is so important. One popular strategy is to send one set of messages in the morning and another in the evening, or one batch during the week and another on the weekend.

Running A/B tests on your emails may not be your favorite things to do, but it is one of the best ways to refine your marketing campaigns. Your initial A/B test results will give you a baseline to compare against, while subsequent tests can help you tweak your marketing message, reach more customers and ultimately grow your profits.

If you are already using SendBlaster , our bulk email software, do not miss the opportunity to run these tests in combination with Trackreports, our email marketing tracking system, and Google Analytics.

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