fI. What Does it Mean to A/B Test Your Email Marketing?
For most digital marketers, running an A/B test (also known as "split testing") is not a revolutionary practice...especially when it comes to email marketing campaigns. However, while A/B testing is nothing new, this practice is not utilized as often as it should be.
The process of A/B testing in email marketing is a method of comparing two variables within your email campaign to see which one outperforms the other.
At the highest level, A/B testing's primary objective is to evaluate and adapt different variables within your email that ultimately help drive higher open rates, click-through rates (CTRs), or general click rates. The process of A/B testing involves setting up two variations of the one email campaign and then sending a small batch of both variations to a small percentage of your total recipients, then the winning variation to the remainder of your recipient list.
II. Why Is A/B Testing Emails Still Relevant?
For those who are already familiar with the practice and those who are not, A/B testing email campaigns is a fundamental practice when it comes to optimizing the performance of your email marketing campaign efforts. However, while it's a common practice, it's not used as an "ongoing" practice more often than not.
When A/B testing emails, it's vital that your results are always measured and documented correctly. The reason why documenting this practice is to ensure your results are or aren't biased towards one specific audience target (depending on what you're trying to optimize for). Additionally, A/B testing should be a process that you continue to build on, with every new campaign tested again (as there is always room for improvement).
Ultimately, it's critical that if you want to properly A/B test your email marketing campaigns, and get the most value from your testing efforts, you never stop testing.
III. 3 Reasons Why You Should Always A/B Test Your Email Campaigns
A/B testing your email campaigns has many benefits, but to achieve them, it's essential that you're strategic when setting up your test.
Here are the 3 most common reasons why A/B testing email campaigns is essential:
- Greater Open Rates = More Eyes On What's Important
Before you launch an email campaign, you need to make sure the effort you've put into the content, and your email's purpose gets seen. If your email gets overlooked, is unopened, or immediately deleted, you can say goodbye to your hard work.
That's why one of the most critical email performance metrics every email marketer should focus on perfecting is increasing their open rate meaning, the variable/s that will most likely impact the chances of your recipients opening your actual email.
Here are a few standard variables that are A/B tested to help increase open rate:
- Your email subject line. Testing out different iterations of your subject lines is an effective way to improve your emails' open rates. It's critical that you pay attention to what your subject line's ideal length and what it looks like, which order should you place your certain pieces of text, and whether using a recipient's name or personalization tag will help the performance of your open rate.
- The email sender (who the email is "from"). Interestingly enough, the email sender's name and address can substantially impact your open rate. This element of your email is another factor that instantly makes your email stand out as it's the first thing a reader sees when they scan their email inbox. Whether it's visually more intriguing to a recipient, seems more personalized, or the name appears more recognizable, it's going to be vital that you have insights into whom your email is coming from, from testing the specific person name to your brand name.
- Preview text of your email. When scanning an email inbox, recipients will often scan for who the sender is, what the subject line is, and even glance at the first sentence/introduction that appears in the preview. When sending out an email campaign, most email providers will have a feature that allows you to customize your email's preview text. This feature is powerful for email marketers, as it will enable you to write a summary of what your email entails, and craft the language to spark more curiosity and interest and ultimately incentivize recipients to open the email to read more. Using preview text as a variable when running an A/B test is another metric necessary to test when you want to gain an accurate picture of how you can maximize your open rate.
These are just some variables to test to try to improve the open rate of your email campaigns.
2. Higher Click-Through-Rates
A/B testing your email campaigns' content is a great way to increase click-through rates (CTR). Multiple parameters influence the CTR. Good examples are testing different call-to-action-buttons, personalization tags, tones of voice, copy lengths, and even email templates.
3. Optimized Conversion Rates
Finally, A/B testing your email campaigns can be the biggest test to identify what leads to higher conversion rates and, simply put, more conversions. If your emails are opened more often and clicked on more frequently, the chances are that A/B testing your emails leads to higher conversion rates.
- Some standard A/B tests for email conversion rates include:
- Testing different color blocks (e.g., the color of your button)
- The color of your text
- The length of your body copy
- Including images vs. not including images
- Including a button and without
- Your anchor text
- Call-to-actions based on specific goals
- And much, much more.
Overall, when you increase your conversion rate, it can impact the number of subscribers you turn into interested buyers, the quantity of interested buyers that turn into customers, repeat customers, customer referrals, and brand evangelists.
IV. What to Remember When A/B Testing Email Campaigns
Don't hesitate to get creative, but remember that running a single test does not mean the winning variant is best. Keep testing winners on new iterations of that variable. User behavior continually changes, and A/B testing is an excellent way to ensure you're always on the pulse of what engages your audience.
Another important note is to never test more than one variable at a time. You should always A/B test one iteration to your email during a single period. For example, never test subject lines and preview text in one campaign, or your button color and your CTA text. It's vital you always isolate one metric in each campaign, so you can easily look back at your campaign's results and identify what caused success and what did not.
IV. Test Your Emails with CM.com's Mobile Marketing Cloud Platform
Now that you know more about email A/B tests, the importance, and what elements to test (and re-test), you should be eager to start launching and seeing immediate improvement in your email marketing campaigns.
With CM.com's Mobile Marketing Cloud you can get started A/B testing right away. Within the powerful array of apps and tools that come in our Mobile Marketing Cloud Platform, you'll get access to CM.com's Email Campaigns app, which provides you with powerful functionality to start A/B testing your email marketing campaigns, the right way.
The best and most unique component of CM.com's Mobile Marketing Cloud? The integrated Customer Data Platform (CDP). All your subscriber and customer data and interactions get combined to form more dynamic, real-time, and in-depth customer profiles with the CDP.
Having a CDP as the core of your mobile marketing platform makes it easy to build custom and personalized campaigns, drilling down into individual static or dynamic audience segments.
The CDP is nowhere close to a CRM or any customer data warehouse. A CDP doesn't just provide a much more immense amount of data, but actionable and real-time data – information you have at your fingertips.
While you can leverage CM's CDP in a magnitude of ways, when it comes to your email marketing campaigns, the CDP is a powerful source for you to create segments for your email campaigns structured very specifically as subsets of your subscribers you can send different email variations to.