If you’ve been following our blog, then you already know how to keep your marketing emails out of the spam folder. We also have a webinar version of this blog for those of you who prefer video. Now that your emails are reaching more inboxes, it’s a good time to start using another email marketing best practice: A/B testing.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing removes the guesswork in favor of data-driven decisions. It takes what you think you know about your recipients and they want from your email marketing and shows you what actually drives engagement from your readers based on data.
A/B testing works best by creating two email campaigns that are different by one specific variable. The more email campaigns you test with a different variable, the more data you will have to know what works best for your audience.
Before You Test, Segment Your Lists
Proper email marketing includes segmenting your email addresses into different lists based on certain criteria. This can include:
- How the email was collected
- Prospect or current customer
- Product or service
Once you begin segmenting your email lists, A/B testing can come into play. You can split a list based on specific variables like location, age group, or type of email provider. The type of information you gain from your audience can determine the lists you create and A/B test.
Smart Tip: NEVER pay for a third-party email list. It might seem like a fast and efficient way to start collecting emails, but you put your reputation on the line when you send marketing emails to people who haven’t actually agreed to receive your content. You also jeopardize the health of our email marketing. The more SPAM marks you get, the more likely your next email won’t get delivered. Earn enough of them, and email marketing platforms like MailChimp will shut down your account. Ouch.
If you’re unsure what variables of your email marketing are worth testing, here’s everything you’ll want to start including in an A/B format.
A/B testing promotions and specials is a great way to know what your average email recipient considers worthwhile. Here are a few ideas:
- % or $ discount
- Afternoon special or evening
- BOGO or half-off
Start A/B testing along these lines to see what drives engagement and gets people keep coming back.
Remember to create deals and specials that can actually be tracked. Your A/B testing is only insightful if you’re able to know who is redeeming the coupon, attending the event, or making the purchases of the promotion that was offered to them.
Pictures Vs. Video
Adding video to your emails can increase open-rates by 19%. That doesn’t mean that your audience will always prefer it, however. A/B test your content — switching out a video with an image and text — to see which version gets the most engagement. Once you have your findings, it would be smart to keep the majority of your email content to the format your audience prefers.
If your audience doesn’t go for video, that doesn’t mean you never try video again. It means you will test it again later, but that you believe your audience now prefers text and images.
Smart Tip: If you don’t have the budget for software that allows you to create video content, don’t worry. There are plenty of free and reliable online tools to power up your marketing content.
Where and how much content is placed throughout an email is worth an A/B test. What does your average recipient prefer, an email loaded with content or something short with a specific call to action? Should your CTA button be close to the top or down at the bottom? Think along these lines mind when A/B testing your content.
It may seem like of the simplest parts of creating an email, but it’s one of the most important factors regarding your open-rate. There are certain ways you can go with your subject line. A personalized greeting, a specific call to action, or a teaser of the content are just some of the ways you can craft your subject line. A/B testing helps you to better understand which type will generally work best for your audience.
Time and Days
Timing is another important aspect that can determine the open rate of your marketing email. If you’re currently playing a guessing game with your email marketing, A/B testing is how to gather better data on what timing yields better results. Remember that A/B testing works best when testing one variable in your email. So, testing different days should be done by sending the second email at the same time the first one was sent, while testing two different times should done on the same day.
One last word on A/B testing: one test isn’t the finish line, it’s just the beginning. A/B test the same variables — call-to-action placement, subject line, video versus text — on a regular basis to verify your findings. It’s also a good idea to re-test as your audience grows. A new audience may change the preferences for your overall email marketing. You won’t know until you test it.