How-To Incorporate A/B Testing Into Your Email Marketing Plans

How-To Incorporate A/B Testing Into Your Email Marketing Plans

Some may not believe it, but email marketing is still one of the most powerful ways to keep your brand in front of your customers.  Continuing to move ahead with the old school email blast without measuring how successful your emails have been performing is not proper email etiquette.  One of the most helpful aspects of email marketing is that it can be tested, and then optimized based on your test results.  Since no email list is the same, it is vital to test everything from the data to the post-click landing pages in order to maximize your email efforts.  One of the best ways to do this is A/B split testing.

Split testing is the process of sending two different emails to analyze and get to the top performer.  The versions of the email will be similar, but you randomly split the group into two, a & b, and determine which is more effective!

Prior to testing, be sure to pay attention to these rules:

1) Develop Hypothesis. Every test starts with a hypothesis.  This could just be a short sentence that summarizes what you are trying to prove and should include the tested variable and success metrics that you will be looking at.

2) Define Success.  One of the most common mistakes with A/B testing is looking at multiple success metrics and deciding which one is important after the test has ended.  Are you looking at click through rates? Open rates? Conversions rates? Unsubscribes?  This needs to be defined before you start your test.

3) Only Test One Variable At a Time. With A/B testing you are only testing one variable - everything else should remain constant.  If you throw too many things into the mix, you will never know which one made the difference.

Speaking of variables, there are an infinite number of variables in an email marketing campaign that can affect its overall success.  Keep in mind that what works for one audience won’t necessarily work for another.  Historically, subject lines, day of week and time of day have been the main items to test in email, but below are three unique tests that may prove to be beneficial:

  • HTML vs. Plain Text Emails - Consider using plain text emails over heavy graphics and HTML code – the simple text email may or may not break through the clutter in today’s digital world.
  • Links vs. Buttons - Many online marketers say that buttons make better calls to action than text links do.  Are you sure this is the case for your email customers?  Is your email button an image?  Sometimes email providers disable images so your button might not be seen.
  • Repeat Your Call To Action - Too many links could be overwhelming – but having two or three links pointing to the same ultimate goal may lead to a lift in your conversion rate.

In email marketing there needs to be constant testing, experimenting, and tweaking.  If you aren’t testing, you may be missing out on a cost-effective opportunity to significantly improve your email marketing success and overall ROI.  The only question left is what will you test first?



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