3 Best Practices to A/B Testing Email Campaigns

Rebecca Felker

A/B testing your email campaigns can take the form of testing copywriting, images, call to action prompts and more. It is a powerful way to drive conversion rate optimization that can be used to justify decision making around enhancing marketing content for your email campaigns. It can be used to test anything from completely different designs to slightly different shades of blues; A/B tests help objectively define whether any given element has an impact.

Make the most of your email campaigns by testing out what works best for a particular audience and type of email. Here are some tips to get you started.

Make a plan

To make your A/B test the most effective, decide what you want to test before you begin. You may have the urge to test a number of things in one campaign, but resist! Only test one thing at a time to get the most accurate results. Testing one variable at a time is the only way to truly determine how effective that variable is. Variables you may consider testing:

  • Subject line – Example: “25% discount on Product XYZ” or “Product XYZ on Sale”
  • Call to action – Example: “Sign up now!” or “Learn more”
  • Layout of the message – Example: single column vs. double column or different placement of different elements
  • Images – Example: test one image against another or one image against no image
  • Headline
  • Body text
  • Closing text

Keep in mind that depending on what you’re testing, changes will affect different parts of the conversion process. For example, if you’re concerned about open rate, testing subject lines will directly impact the performance. On the other hand, your call to action will directly affect how many people make a purchase or click through to your landing page.

Think about what issue you’re trying to address or solve and test based on importance. For example, if not many people are opening your emails, then test on subject line first. Then, let the other variables follow.

Statistically significant data

So you finished your A/B test, but can you trust your results enough to make changes in your email strategy? You can if they are statistically significant.

Statistical significance is a way to mathematically support that a certain statistic is a change beyond what can be attributed to chance. There are a number of accurate confidence level calculators you can find on the internet to help with this calculation. The stronger the result, the more confident you can be that the factors of the test are a reason for a change.

Test and test again

Continuously challenge results with new tests. Just because you did a few tests doesn’t mean you should stop. As your audience’s preferences change and markets fluctuate, you’ll need to continue to adjust and test your theories.

Always try to think of new aspects to test and creative ways to do so. For example, look at your subject line. There are several variables within the subject line that can be tested – length, mention of a promotion, urgency, recipient name, among others.

In conclusion, A/B testing can be very powerful. A well planned and executed A/B test can make a positive impact on your email marketing numbers. The biggest benefit is that it gives you the power to make educated decisions based on the results.

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