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How​ ​to​ ​Optimize​ ​Your​ ​Email​ ​Marketing​ ​with​ ​A/B​ ​Testing

Email marketing packs some awesome customer engagement power. With low costs and high returns, email campaigns consistently outperform other online marketing tactics to bring in new and repeat business.

In fact, the DMA’s most recent UK National Client Email report revealed that the average ROI for email marketing campaigns hovers around 53%, or £38 for every £1 spent (that’s roughly $40 for every $1 spent). So there’s a reason why your inbox is jam-packed with emails designed to sell: email marketing works.

But email marketing has a weakness. It only takes a couple of clicks to unsubscribe. Fail to consistently send your subscribers useful and entertaining content, and you’ll quickly lose your following.

That’s where A/B tests come in. These experiments let you trial different versions of an email to see how a small change can make a big impact on your campaign results. The process is simple. You choose what you want to test, then analyze the results to see which tactics and techniques work, and which you should scrap.

For truly effective A/B testing results, you need a clear goal and a strategic approach. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your A/B tests.

Test one variable at a time

First, decide on the one thing you want to test. This variable could be one of numerous email elements—for example, the subject line, call-to-action, headline, salutation, or the offer.

By testing only two versions of one variable at time, you can pinpoint exactly what change drove the best results.

Run the test on your entire email list

For an accurate picture of how your subscribers respond to the different variables, run your test on your entire list. Running A/B tests on a segmented portion of your subscribers, introduces external factors that can eschew results.

Of course, you may at times want to delve deeper into what works for different audiences—for example, teenage men and women over 50 may respond differently to same subject line. But to reveal the best tactics on a broad scope, target all of your subscribers.

Set clear KPIs for success

Before launching a new A/B test, you need to know what success looks like. To do this, analyze your results for past email campaigns. This gives you a benchmark to measure against.

Did your last campaign inspire 30% of subscribers to request a product demo? Or perhaps 60% on the list couldn’t resist opening your email? Great, now aim to do better.

Set a realistic goal to improve upon. We recommend striving for a 10% increase, but remember it will likely take multiple A/B tests to achieve this. Finally, establish KPIs—like conversion rate, open rate, or click-through-rate (CTR)—to measure this success.

Test your hypothesis

The most effective A/B tests begin with a hypothesis. These help you go beyond the numbers to discover exactly what prompted the result. If subject line B outperformed subject line A, fantastic—but why? Was it the more direct tone, the stronger CTA to open, or more engaging word choice?

A hypothesis moves you toward answering these questions before you even create your variables. If you believe writing “sale” rather than “discount” will galvanize open rates, run an A/B test to prove (or disprove) your theory.

Test your campaigns regularly  

A/B testing is an ongoing process. While a 10% increase in conversion rate calls for celebration, don’t stop there. Imagine the conversion boost if you could encourage 10% more subscribers to open your next email.

Take a steady and consistent approach to optimizing your email campaigns, and the payoff will return in droves.
Want skyrocketing open and conversion rates from your email marketing campaigns? Then check out our email marketing services and contact us today.



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