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Three Tips for Effectively A/B Testing your Emails

In a world where everything has become “social”, email has proven to continue to be a valuable asset in the world of online communications. In fact, according to the Radicati Group, the number of worldwide email accounts is projected to grow from over 4.1 billion accounts in 2014 to over 5.2 billion accounts by the end of 2018. That’s almost 27% in growth.

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With the huge opportunity to truly capture new subscribers, companies are spending more and more dollars on testing – specifically A/B testing.

Campaign Monitor defines A/B testing (also known as split testing) as:

 A way of working out which of two campaign options is the most effective in terms of encouraging opens or clicks.

In an A/B test, you set up two variations of the one campaign and send them to a small percentage of your total recipients. Half of the test group is sent Version A and the other half gets Version B. The result, measured by the most opens or clicks, determines the winning campaign and that version is sent to the remaining subscribers.

It’s imperative to run A/B tests when trying out new techniques or formats for your email campaigns. The result is the improvement of open, click through and conversion rates, which will funnel down to other marketing efforts and ultimately, if sales-related, profit for the company. Now that you understand the importance of testing, let’s break down exactly what you want to test – as everything cannot be tested together. It’s important to only test one thing at a time to get accurate results.

  1. Timing

The time that you decide to send an email is very important. Some believe the hours between 8:00 pm – 12:00 am are best. Others believe mid-day is best. Truthfully, ideal times will vary by your subscriber list, industry and/or the content/offer. Try a variety of times to determine which works best and go from there. Some email databases offer paid scheduling testing services, such as Mail Chimps’ Send Time Optimization, which handles the work for you by 1) requesting a sample list (dividing it in half – hence the phrase A/B testing) 2) determining the best sending time for its subscribers and 3) distributing based on the most favorable time.

  1. Call to Action and Subject Line

When it comes to testing your offer, there is no clear-cut plan. Different subscribers respond to different offers. The key is dynamic offers – i.e. targeted e-mail offers that are customized for each individual subscriber based on the information you’ve collected on them. A few examples include:

  • Seasonal Offers (e.g. Holidays, Back to School deals)
  • Free Option Offer (e.g. Shipping, BOGO, upgrades, downloads)

Percentages and specific dollar amounts (e.g. 5% off, $20 off)

  • Reminder/Time Sensitive Offers (e.g. Last chance to buy and/or earn, 5 slots left)
  • Exclusive/Membership Based offers (e.g. New items in store, restocked requests, private shopping events)
  1. The Layout

The layout of your email may seem like a trivial thing to consider but as the world becomes more mobile, it is imperative to ensure that click through rates and open rates remain high. A few popular things to test are:

  • Body text (Single column vs. double column; font size and type)
  • Images vs. Videos (and whether or not to integrate at all)
  • Personalization (Jane vs. Mrs. Doe)
  • HTML text (Keywords vs. brand language)
  • Placement of the offer (and the repetition of the offer)

Testing can be seen as a long, thorough process but when done right, and often, can yield positive results for your business.

What are some of your best practices for testing emails – specifically related to A/B testing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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