You are done with all elements of your email structure and you are ready to send your email.
But what if a different subject line would deliver a higher email open rate? Or a different click to action will drive more clicks?
To maximize the performance of your email campaigns you can use take advantage of A/B testing.
What is Email A/B Testing?
Email A/B testing is the process of sending the same email but with two different elements to a small segment of your email list. The better performing email is then sent again to the remaining subscribers.
Example: Two emails with different subject lines are randomly sent to a sample list with 20% of your subscribers; the subject line with more open rates will be sent again to the remaining 80% of the recipients.
Advantages of A/B testing
- Helps avoid confusion over what feels good versus having real data.
- Over time you will be able to zero in on the best performing emails for your specific audience and business.
- Eliminating the low performing types of subject lines or any other email component.
- Bring down bounce rates and unsubscribed rates.
- Improve email engagement.
- Increases open rates, email clicks, conversions and sales.
- Understand your audience.
How to Perform Email A/B Testing
The bigger your email list, the more significant the data from the sample list. Assuming you already have a list of at least 1000 subscribers, here are the best practices to maximize your A/B testing efforts.
- Create a scheduled test plan.
- Always test only one email element at a time.
- Use the 20% / 80% rule, meaning that two different subject lines are sent to 20% of your recipients and the winning subject line is sent to the remaining 80%.
- Use the same type of audience for each variation – for example, don’t send one variation to new subscribers and the other variation to old ones.
- Trust the data more than your gut.
- Test as often as you can.
- Test small variations too, such as using surname instead of the first name; or using different CTA color.
- Record your test results.
- Confirm the test results regularly with a follow-up test.
- Even when you find the perfect combo, make 20% of all email campaigns about testing new ideas.
Email testing tools
Researching for email A/B testing tools I found tools that do a lot more than just that. Below is a small list of advanced tools for email testing and some of the crazy things they can do.
- As a start, you can check this article from Mailchimp that shows you how to create a multivariate campaign straight from their platform to perform A/B testing.
- litmus.com – the most popular of email testing tools, the $1,200 yearly subscription comes with email preview in over 90 devices and email clients, email loading times testing, detailed analytics, their own email builder + integrations with multiple tools such as Google, Dropbox, MailChimp.
- emailonacid.com – Litmus’s main competitor, the $1,344 premium subscription comes with most of the things litmus offers + email heatmaps and outstanding customer support.
- Another similar tool is Validity’s Return Path which focuses on email deliverability and optimization.
Email marketing is an ongoing process of trial and error. Having your subscribers interested in your content today and in the future can be a challenge.
That’s because your audience’s interests and knowledge change over time. So the type of content you sent them should change too.
As long as your intent is good and you offer real value to your subscribers, then you are on the good side of things.