A/B Testing in Emails: A Pocket Manual

A/B Testing in Emails: A Pocket Manual

As per a report, “around 81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters.” Hence, their importance and potential to generate and retain business is well-defined. As an email marketer, you mostly would be working with, let’s say, a pre-qualified base. The people on your list have agreed to receive information from you. In most cases, plenty of them would have already done business with you. As a matter of fact, “it’s easier and cheaper to retain customers than it is to get new ones.”

Hence, it’s crucial to conduct A/B tests of your email marketing campaigns when you test new formats or email designs. Let’s look at all the essentialities of A/B Testing in email marketing and how you can make the most out of it.

What to test

First, you need to decide what you’ll test for an effective A/B test. It’s best to only test one thing at a time for accurate results. Here’s what you can choose from:

  • Call-to-action
  • Subject line
  • Testimonials (whether to include or not include them at all)
  • Message layout (Single column vs. two-column, or some different placement)
  • Personalization (For instance, “Mr. Underwood” vs. “Frank”)
  • Text in the body of the email
  • Headline
  • Closing text
  • Pictures
  • Specific offers (For instance, “Save 20%” vs. “Free shipping”)

Each of the elements mentioned above impacts the conversion process in its own unique way. For instance, your CTA would directly affect the number of people buying your product or visiting your landing page. On the other hand, your subject line will decide how many people actually open your email in the first place.

The entire list or just a part?

Well, you should usually test your entire list to get a clear idea of the response to your new campaign. Testing them all is the best way to do so. However, in some cases, you should not test on your entire list.

For example, if you are trying something really radical, you should restrict the audience size in case it is not well-received. However, make sure you test on a substantial number of people as per your sample size to get a clear idea.

The larger the sample size, the more precise results you will get. Do not forget to split the list randomly. You can even hand-pick the recipients to skew your results. The objective is to accumulate empirical data for zeroing down on the best version of your A/B test.

Defining the success

It is important to define your aspirations and achievements before commencing A/B testing of your email versions. You can refer to your previous results. In case you have stuck to the same email campaign style for a long time, you would have generated substantial data. Aim for a higher conversion rate this time.

Once you have set the parameter of what to consider success, it is crucial to fix the benchmark. This practice would help you understand the results better and further tweak the emails accordingly.

If you are looking to transform your email marketing campaigns and test them effectively, then having professional services on board would save you a lot of time and effort. A Marketo certified associate or Mailchimp email expert would conduct the testing for you and look after all the crucial aspects of your email marketing campaign.

Breaking down the results

Once you are done with the testing, it’s time to analyze the results. Following are the defining parameters of an email marketing campaign:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate once the recipient has landed on your website

The message your email delivers should be in line with what’s there on your website. If the email mentions a deal, then it should be appropriately displayed on the website as well. Failing to do so would turn down potential customers. The same could be the case if the email’s vibe (read look and feel) is not in sync with your website. Communication should be consistent irrespective of the channel.

You must track the conversion rate from each email version. Doing so would ensure that you do not lose sales. The plan is to get high conversions and not just CTRs. A version cannot be deemed successful if it gets more click-throughs but doesn’t lead to as many conversions. In such cases, you need to optimize the email’s inner content since high CTR indicates that the subject line is doing its job perfectly.

You can opt for Pardot email templates or Mailchimp email templates to create the A/B testing versions of your campaign. They are simply the best in the business with deeper insights into the results and expert consultation.

Best Practices for an email A/B test

  • Try to test the versions simultaneously. It would lower the chance of results getting affected by time-based discrepancies.
  • Test as large a sample as possible for accurate results.
  • Your approach should be data-driven.
  • Deploy the right tools available for quick and efficient testing.
  • Make sure to test before shooting your campaign and do it more often for the best results.
  • Only test one variable at a time for best results.

Wrapping Up

Follow the steps mentioned above and craft the perfect email marketing campaign. Remember, all your results should help you achieve higher conversions.

About the Author

Kevin George is the Head of Marketing at EmailUplers, one of the largest Email Templates production companies that specializes in converting PSD to email templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage and share insights with fellow marketers.