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Email Marketing Best Practices : A/B Testing

by Anne Carton Tweet - in Email Marketing

Email Marketing Best Practices

Last updated on June 14th, 2023

Email marketing, when done right, becomes the backbone of your customer retention journey. A reliable email subscriber list gives you an edge over other businesses without exhausting your resources. However, reaping these amazing benefits of email marketing is only feasible when you understand its nuances and work accordingly. It’s where email marketing practices such as A/b testing come in handy.

If you keep sending a standard email version to your subscriber list, you can’t know what’s working and what could be better. That’s when A/B testing tricks take the lead and put your marketing efforts into perspective. You can analyze your marketing strategy’s impact and downsides by running effective A/B tests and steering its direction accordingly.

No worries if you’re unfamiliar with A/B testing and feel overwhelmed by the idea because we have got your back. Today, we’ll explain A/B testing best practices and some tricks you can follow to earn better results. So, without any ado, let’s dive deeper and do A/B testing in email marketing the right way!

5 Steps To Follow Right Away In A/B Testing For Email Marketing

A/B testing in email marketing refers to creating two email variants around the same subject and sending them to two groups. Once these email variants complete their journey in your subscribers’ inboxes, you get to know which one worked better. A/B testing might seem like a technical term, but it’s a fairly simple phenomenon.

If you’re also planning to test a few new things in your email marketing campaign and want a clear roadmap, here are a few steps to follow:

01. Identify Your Test Variables

Email marketing (and any form of marketing for that matter) is never steady – you see high and low points along the way. That’s why being clear on your target and non-negotiable factors are inevitable. When you understand what you want to test and why you plan on doing it, you see better results.

The first thing to do in A/B testing of SaaS email marketing is variable identification. If you produce two entirely different email variants and compare their results, you don’t know what gave one of these the edge.

Therefore, start with identifying your test variables to stay on a clear track.

Here Are The Primary A/B Testing Variables You Should Invest Your Time In

  • Subject Lines

A subject line is the first thing your subscribers see when they visit their mailbox. If this line appeals to them, they’ll open the email and scroll further down to reach your call-to-action.

That’s why subject lines should be your stepping stone for A/B testing in email marketing. If you aren’t happy with your email campaign’s opening rate, spice the emails with unique subject lines and roll them to see how it goes.

You can change these subject lines’ nature, length, and word order to see the difference they make. Since the optimal length for email subject lines is between 60-71 characters, you can alter your content accordingly and monitor the email opening rate afterward. Different word order and tone can also change your subject lines’ impact on the readers – you’re free to play in email A/B testing.

  • Email Content

Your email marketing campaign’s primary convincing and conversion power lies in your email copy. You hit your marketing goals faster when you put the correct message across and convince people to click the given links.

When you implement an A/B testing haul in your email marketing campaign, give email copy the primary slot. As we know, your readers have short attention spans, which calls for a strong and benefit-driven copy. Craft benefit-selling email copy and avoid the salesy tactics you were following earlier to test your hypothesis.

Ensure you have a specific content tone for your brand; you can still experiment with the emails and bring forth unique content that doesn’t bore your readers.

Write two forms of email copy, keep everything else the same, and send out both variants to check which content form performs better. You’re likely to see a significant difference between these two forms without putting in much effort.

  • Email Tone

If you’re not incorporating engaging stories in your brand emails, try this to see if it pans out. When you interact with your subscriber list for a long time, following one content tone and brand message can become boring. But the good thing is, it’s your subscriber list, and you can test new things with them.

Incorporate different content in your emails and test new ways to keep the readers engaged. You can personalize or opt out of email personalization during the A/B testing phase to conclude a point.

Some marketers believe that approaching the subscribers from a company’s official name is better, while others vote against it. You can test this by using two different content forms in your emails and comparing their results.

  • Body Length and Order

Your email’s body is another important A/B testing variable. Some brands earn better conversions and click-through rates through short-form emails, while others do better with lengthy emails; you can test both to know better.

You can alternate between single and double columns, break paragraphs into even smaller pieces, and try different fonts to be sure of a strategy that works best.

Your email content is a great platform to test your subscribers, a.k.a. potential customers’ interests; use it smartly.

  • Visualization

If you don’t add any visual effects in your brand emails, you might be missing out on some engagement. But if you’re unsure whether this trick will work or not, you can A/B test it to be certain.

Send a visually-appealing email variant to one segment of your email list and a plain one to the other half. If this trick’s results look different, go with the version that performed better.

GIFs, videos, infographics, and images are the primary forms of visually appealing content you can use in your emails.

  • Test Automation Timing

While most email A/B testing is about testing what content should be there in an email, test also for timing. Find out an ideal time when your subscribers should get your email based on your data analysis.

Know which is the best time to send email for maximum response. This will help in the automation of your emails so that your audience gets your email message when it suits best to them.

  • Call-To-Action

An email’s call-to-action is a crucial element. If you excite the readers with your call-to-action, you see impressive click-through and conversion numbers.

Now, the call-to-action isn’t only about the words you send across; it can be the design of a final button, the link you add to it, and the way it appeals to the eye.

You can easily increase your click-through rate by making it clear to the readers what to expect next. Instead of a generic CTA like “read more”, you can be more creative and dash in a compelling phrase to spike their interest.

Email button copy plays a significant part in your final numbers, don’t overlook its significance.

02. Specify Your Subscriber Lists

The next crucial aspect of your email A/B testing drive is to segment the subscribers. If you send a new email version to the entire subscriber list, you can’t know what worked. Therefore, carefully segment your list to make the most out of this drive. Divide your contacts into these two categories:

  • A Test Group – Which receives the new email variant.
  • A Control Group – Which receives your standard email.

Usually, it’s better to divide your contacts in half to avoid ambiguity and attain fair results. But if you’re using an A/B testing service that costs per email address, you can pick a sample size out of your contacts to send new emails.

A large sample will provide more data accuracy and yield better results. Send emails to both groups at the same time and use the same final offer in both formats to compare the results.

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03. Integrate Email Testing Tools

Once you’re sure about the testing variables and your contact groups are ready, the next stage is to use A/B testing tools that work. These tools will compare both formats’ results and put your efforts into perspective by showing actionable results.

Some email marketing services have pre-built A/B testing tools to ease this task. Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor are the most prominent names offering built-in A/B testing tools to support your marketing tools without exhausting your resources.

You can easily A/B test your emails with these add-ons and analyze their results to devise your remaining journey. But if your email software doesn’t have these integrations, you can purchase third-party tools or manually complete this task.

You’ll need a headline analyzer, a sender score tool, and a data analyzing tool during an A/B testing campaign. Divide your contacts into two equal sections, send the email variants you have curated to see the difference in your numbers.

Another method of A/B testing your emails is to test it on real people. Using new user testing tools, you can test two versions of your email subject lines or headlines with real people and get valuable feedback

04. Analyze The Results

Trusting your instinct or random play doesn’t work in email marketing; you need data to back your hypothesis.

After completing the above-listed tasks, start checking the data you receive. The primary data types you should look at are these two:

  • Email Opening Rate – This metric is influenced by the quality and effectiveness of your email subject line and message. (If you find creating compelling email subject lines challenging, consider utilizing email subject line generator tools.)
  • Click-Through Rate – This indicates your call-to-action button’s accuracy and impact.

Remember, you need significant data to prove your hypothesis and implement new changes to your email marketing campaign.

Have a detailed look at your email software’s data, and track every change you notice there. This data will help you configure a better email marketing drive and steer your efforts in the right direction.

05. Implement The Data

The final step of email A/B testing is to implement these changes. Sitting on this newly collected data won’t yield any results, have your marketing guy (or team) craft new emails resonating with these findings and enjoy the impressive results of this concept testing campaign.

Once you have seen good results from these changes, you don’t have to stop. You can A/B test your emails whenever you want and stay a step ahead of your competition.

Some Takeaways For Your A/B Testing Strategy In Email Marketing

No matter when you decide to A/B test your emails and how large is your sample size, some rules will always stand solid.

Here’s What You Must remember For A/B Testing In Emails

01. Set Your Goals

Introducing new changes should come with a clear goal. Whether you want a better conversion rate through the signature branding or lifting your click-through percentage is your goal, make sure everything is clear and written on a piece of paper for guidance to pick the right email components.

It’s in your best interest to identify your objectives and work towards achieving them. Whether you want a better conversion rate or lifting your click-through percentage is the goal, have it in writing and choose your email components accordingly.

02. Don’t Juggle Multiple Things

Changing everything about your brand emails to see if they work well might seem smart, it can also be counterproductive. If you change your email copy’s tone, don’t alter its format or content flow to keep your brand familiar.

Similarly, adding more visually-appealing content and changing the button copy alongside might be too much. You should avoid juggling multiple things and test a few email components in one go to see their results.

03. Use A Sustainable Sample Size

A/B testing on a small sample might not clear the picture; you need significant data to prove a hypothesis. If you don’t send new emails to your whole subscriber list, select a sustainable sample size to see these new tricks’ impact.

04. Prepare Your Audience For New Changes

A/B testing isn’t a one-off process – you should prepare your audience for new changes step by step. Change a few components of your brand emails first and gradually increase this number to keep the readers in a loop. Don’t change your emails drastically to avoid any backfire, and follow a sustainable strategy.

05. Stick To The Numbers

Once you have your A/B testing campaign numbers, always implement them to your new content. Trusting your feeling and new experiments might not support your goals; following a roadmap is the goal here.

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Summing It Up

A/B testing in email marketing is a useful strategy to bank on new user insights. When you launch new products or change your brand tone to engage readers, you might see a difference in your email campaign’s numbers. You can utilize these changes to your benefit and craft your upcoming marketing steps accordingly. Being consistent and clear about the objectives can make your email marketing campaign a great resource for your business. Always be proactive with it to stay at the top of your game.

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Anne Carton is a small business consultant, designer and an enthusiast blogger working with Designhill, one of the fastest-growing custom design marketplace. She has authored several blogs, articles and editorials on various topics related to interactive content, concerning design, social media strategies, growth hack strategies, digital marketing and e-commerce. Facebook | Twitter

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