If your business relies on email campaigns and newsletters for lead generation, then you know how important it is that your email recipients actually open your email and see your offer. How else will you turn those leads into new or repeat customers?
That’s why it’s so important to improve your email open rate and click through rates by testing various parts of your email through split testing, also known as A/B testing. The truth is, most businesses should spend a lot more time testing their email marketing campaigns which means you can stand out from the crowd by being one of the companies that does.
You’re probably thinking “A/B testing my email campaigns is hard!” or you might be wondering “What do I even test?”. Let’s take a closer look at the things you can test in your email campaign that will result in more qualified leads.
Email A/B testing, it’s simply a process where you test two versions of an email by sending version A out to a randomly selected part of your audience and version B out to a second randomly selected part of your audience. Once you determine which version performed better, you then send the better performing email to the remaining part of your email list. The goal is to determine what elements of an email need to change in order to generate better results.
First decide what to test in an email split test
Before you even create an A/B split test, you need to first decide what you want to test. Anything goes when it comes to testing email campaigns. If you are just starting out, try to focus your tests around areas you consider important and which are more likely to have a big impact on conversion rate. And remember, each test will have a different effect on different parts of your conversion process.
To give you an idea of what you can test, here are a few things you can experiment with.
** Note: There are certain do’s and don’ts with A/B testing. See best practices at end of this article.
Test Email subject line
Your email subject line is one of the most important parts of your email. It’s the first thing your reader sees in their in box and changing just one word can increase open rates and conversion rates dramatically. Here are but a few examples of things you can test in your email subject line.
· Test personalization (Example: “Hi Joe” vs. “Mr. Jones”)
· Test subject line purely on length (Example; less than 50 characters or more than 50 characters)
· Test different wording
Test the content within the body of your email.
Once you get your subscriber to open your email, you want them to do some desired action like click on your offer or sign up for something, so you should also test different content within the body of the email. There are many things you could test, so start off by testing a few things that you think will resonate with your audience the best. Here are but a few things you can test:
· CTA: Do more people click on a call to action button that says “Buy Now!” vs. an image that shows the Plans & Pricing?
· The specific offer: Which offer gets more click on the buy button?( e.g. “save 15%” vs. “get free shipping”)
· Testimonials: Do testimonials generate more trust and therefore more leads?
· Closing text: what effect does changing this have on converting prospects?
Don’t forget to test certain design elements of your email to see if it improves your click through rate or goal of the email. Some design elements you can test include:
· HTML or TEXT: Do text emails get better results than sending an HTML email?
· Layout of your message: What happens if you change the layout from a single column vs. two columns?
· Images: Are subscribers more likely to click a linked image or linked text?
· Bolding: Does bolding certain text affect conversion?
Other things you can test
Don’t limit yourself to just testing which email subject lines to use or which copy converts better. Also consider:
Timing: Sometimes just changing the frequency or the day and time you send your email can have a dramatic effect on click through rates and conversion rates. For example, your audience might consist largely of VP’s and directors with desk jobs who check email early on weekday’s vs checking in the evening or on the weekends.
Frequency: Studies have shown that you can significantly impact the click-through rates and unsubscribe rates by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of email you send.
Test the “From Name”: Are your prospects more likely to open your email if the “from” name is an actual person or simply your company name?
Best Practices for testing email campaigns
When testing, there is no need for you to reinvent the wheel: here are some proven best practices to follow when testing your email campaigns.
· Test simultaneously: Always start and end you’re A/B tests at the same time. This will reduce the chance your results will be skewed by time-based factors.
· Test large samples if possible: You’ll get more statistically significant results using a list of 1,000 subscribers than you will from a list of 100 subscribers.
· Use available tools: For quicker and easier testing, use the testing tools provided by your email marketing service provider rather than trying to cobble everything together yourself.
· Test often: Your audience is dynamic so It’s best to continually test and improve your email campaigns to discover new ways to improve your conversion rates
· Only test one variable at a time: You might be tempted to test more than one element at a time but it is important to TEST ONLY one thing at a time and to maintain a CONTROL GROUP to truly understand if those changes actually affect response rates.
Making time to test
Split testing your email marketing campaigns demands patience and time but higher response rates will make it all worthwhile. Just make sure to keep detailed records about your tests so you can better understand what worked and what did not. Among other things, you should keep track are the following:
· The name and date of the email campaign
· Target list details: the number of recipients, what segment of your list (if any), etc.
· Response rates: who responded to what email.
Keeping track of all this can be done using something as simple as a spreadsheet, or as intricate as an email marketing management tool such as Hubspot.com or Salesforce.com. If you’re a busy executive or manager than consider handing this job off to a personal assistant or making it part of the job of an existing employee or outsourcing the entire process.