Adding A/B Testing to Your Email Campaigns

By: Jake

A/B testing. The phrase can sound complicated to non-marketers who are simply trying to send out emails to stay in touch with their customers. But in fact, once you understand the process, A/B testing is one of the easiest ways to improve the emails you send to make sure they are as impactful as they can be for your intended audience.

What is A/B testing?

The basic A/B testing concept is actually quite simple. Typically, you only send out one email campaign at a time, and have no way of telling how your audience would have reacted to a different email. If you pay attention over time, you can eventually learn what kinds of emails elicit a good response from your audience.

A/B testing allows you to send out two or more versions of a message at the same time, giving you much more room for experimentation and allowing you to speed up the learning process. For instance, you could send out the same exact message but with three different subject lines, to see which one gets the highest open rates. Or, you can test three different calls-to-action at the end of an email to see which one leads to the highest clickthrough rates over to a landing page on your website.

What Can You Test?

Almost any aspect of an email message can be A/B tested. Some parameters you can test are:

  • Day of the week for sending email
  • Time of the day for sending email
  • Email subject line format and length
  • Email designs (photos, columns)
  • Emai greeting
  • Email length
  • Calls-to-action

It’s usually most useful to test only one parameter at a time: if you send out the same exact email with two different subject lines and one does better than the other, you know you can attribute that success to the subject line; if you send out two emails that are completely different, it may be hard to pinpoint exactly what aspect of the better-performing email actually appealed to the audience.

How It’s Done

You can do A/B testing manually. Simply split your audience list in half, and send one version of a message to the first half and a different version to the second half. Compare results, decide what works better, then implement that feature into your future emails and find a new thing to test.

But many email clients will actually make your life easier by having automated A/B testing features your can simply turn on. Some will even enable you to do an A/B test on some small portion of your audience (say, 20%) for an email, then email the remaining 80% with whichever version of the message got better results. That way, you can do A/B testing and start using your findings in the very same email campaign to improve audience response.

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Want to set up A/B testing for your email campaigns but not sure where to start? Little Jack Marketing can help with every part of the process, from deciding what options to test in the first place, to the analysis of the results that give you insights about your audience. Contact us today to get started with email A/B testing and increase the success of your email campaigns.