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Email marketing a/b testing ideas: how it can improve your results

3 min read

Email marketing a/b testing ideas: how it can improve your results

So you’ve built up your email marketing list? Well done! But don’t rest on your laurels just yet, because the work doesn’t end there.

‘But these are people who want to receive information from us,’ we hear you exclaim. A closer look at the data may reveal a slightly different story. How many people are actually opening your emails? What does your click-through rate (CTR) look like? What are the actual conversions? Odds are there will be room for improvement in all these areas.

With this data at your fingertips, easily accessible through your automation system, there’s no need to just blast out emails, then cross your fingers and hope for the best. Some simple email marketing testing can quickly and clearly tell you what’s working for you and what’s not (and numbers don’t lie!).

Don’t assume the results will be intuitive either; sometimes ‘best practices’ aren’t going to be the most effective for your audience. And you may be surprised how even changing little things can have a big impact.

Fine-tune your marketing through A/B testing

A/B testing is as easy as asking the question: which worked better – A or B? Yet as simple as it sounds, it’s an extremely powerful tool that allows you to adapt your content and campaigns to the needs of your database. It will also get those CTRs and conversion numbers way up.

Cast your mind back to high-school science (yep, it's a long way back for us too), when you learned about how to conduct experiments: the principles are essentially the same.

  1. Start with a hypothesis that you’re going to test; it could be something as straightforward as ‘A shorter subject heading is more effective than a longer one’.
  2. Create two emails, identical except for the variable you’re testing. Only test for one variable at a time – this is crucial so you know exactly which variable drove the result. Make sure to control for other variables too, like the time and day you’re sending the email, which should also be the same (unless, of course, this is the variable you’re testing).
  3. Send the emails to two significant, random samples of your database – a larger sample will mean your results are more meaningful, and a random sample will make sure your results are less skewed by the demographics of your database.
  4. Record your results.
  5. Amend your future emails accordingly! Collecting data is all very well and good, but it’s not much use if you don’t apply your learnings

What should you test?

The possibilities are endless. Basically, if you can change it, you can test for it.

Begin with something small: subject lines are a great place to start as they’re easy to tweak, but can have a big influence on opening rates. A few things you could consider: tone, order of information, length of copy and first-name personalisation.

You could also test things like the ‘from’ name, time of day, day of the week, call to action, the number of graphics – the list goes on! According to Perry Marshall, author of The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, even something as small as the placement of a comma could make a difference.

When should you test?

All the time! Email testing should be an essential part of any marketing strategy, and once you’ve got the hang of it, it will slip seamlessly into your day-to-day routine. By testing early and testing often, you can hone down your material so that it’s perfectly tailored to your customers, ensuring optimum results.

Confused about how to get your hands on that magical data? We can help. We've pulled together a 10-step guide to choosing the right marketing automation platform. Download it and have a read.

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