Email A/B Testing: Tools, Techniques, and Best Practices

Is it an easy task to come with a good email campaign? I guess not. We should take multiple factors into account. I mean content, imagery, fonts, color schemes, and many more. We have to personalize offers, detect the optimal sending time… Even emojis may impact the result. 

Relying on our own taste is dangerous. We need ways to evaluate our efforts objectively. A/B testing seems to be an efficient solution here.

In this short post, we are going to talk about A/B tests and how to conduct them.

What is A/B testing in a nutshell?

In the market, things are changing constantly, new trends are coming, older are transforming or disappear in oblivion. People always want something new, so businesses must adapt to their needs. Email marketing becomes more complex day by day. Just look at how many new features are provided by advanced HTML template builders and ESPs…

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a precise detector tool to measure the performance of marketing solutions and explore the mood and preferences of clients.

The advantages of these tests

Even being an experienced businessman or marketer, you are still risking misinterpreting reality. With split testing, you will check the results, reduce the threats caused by the aforementioned changes, and learn the audience better.

Doubt about the design, embedded video, or the voice of communication with users? Your doubts may be quite reasonable. When people don’t like the changes or novelties, they may leave very soon. Prevent this by inobtrusive consulting with the audience using A/B testing. 

This way you’ll avoid churn rate growth, and enhance email conversion instead.

Which metrics do we need to check?

An email marketer needs to analyze the current market situation on a constant basis. There are three common metrics to track and improve the marketing strategy.

  • Open Rate (OR)

A key metric that shows how many times the message was opened. For instance, the newsletter was successfully delivered to 120 subscribers, and 70 of those people opened it. The formula is: OR = (the number of unique opens/number of delivered emails)*100% The OR, in this case, is 58.3

  • Click-through rate (CTR)

A number of clicks through the buttons or links in the email. Continuing the example above: the actual email was delivered to 120 recipients, and only 30 clicked the CTA elements in it. The formula is: CTR = (number of clicks/number of delivered emails)*100% This way, your CTR is 25%. When CTR is low, it’s a signal to fix mistakes in email strategy.

  • Click to open rate (CTOR)

CTOR is a detector of engagement. It’s formula: CTOR = (number of unique clicks/OR)*100% 

What we will track with split tests?

  • Subject lines

This is the first part of your newsletter user will see in the inbox. It determines whether the client will open the new message, or remove it. We advise you to pay closer attention to subjects: they have to show the essence of email, call the recipient to action, or drive some anticipation and intrigue.

  • Email text length

When email text is too long, it kills the wish to read. Yes, the content may be undoubtedly useful. But in any case, don’t overload the readers. Split testing helps to detect and remove excessive paragraphs, or shorten long sentences.

  • Email design

Need to choose the color scheme for your email? For example, Wikipedia says that the red color creates a sense of excitement while the blue is about reliability. A/B testing can help you to detect how different schemes really affect a person. And then you incorporate the right colors in the updated design of emails. The same goes for visual elements, CTA, fonts, etc.

  • Tone of communication

If you didn’t choose a voice for your company yet, then it’s time to do it right now! Detect the tone to communicate with the audience. A friendly tone with humor and memes, or a formal businesslike voice? ー split testing will help to make decisions!

  • Sending time

Friday is a perfect day for promo emails. While business emails are better to send on Tuesday when people are mentally ready for the new tasks. Are these standard rules relevant for you? Conduct testing to detect the flawless timing for your campaigns.

How to conduct A/B testing?

Let’s explore it step by step.

1. Set the goals. And determine which results (open rate, CTOR, etc.) you’ll consider successful.

2. Choose a variable. First, decide what you will test. Split test one variable at a time is the most effective approach. For example, try two subject lines, or different emojis sets. 

3. Make a copy of the email. Change the color, text, or CTA buttons. But stick to the rule of one variable at a time.

4. Segment your database. Do it manually or via your ESP.

5. Process the results data. This way you’ll understand the effect of the split test, and define the direction to proceed. This is the essential stage to compare the results of the two test groups.

6. Act. Make changes, improve campaigns, test and analyze again — this is the only way to boost conversion and earn your customers’ trust.

Tools for A/B email testing

Finally, few words about some helpful tools for A/B testing.

For the subject line, we recommend you Email Subject Line Grader, a product by Net Atlantic.

To detect the proper tone of brand voice, Grammarly comes to the rescue. This app shows over 10 different tones of speech.

If you need to find the optimal sending time, all modern ESPs are featured with options to track and analyze the time when emails are opened. With split tests, you can easily find a convenient time for readers and draw the timing map to send emails.

Final words

Using the simple yet effective A/B testing, you will finally get an opportunity to detect precisely which elements of your eCommerce strategy and particular campaigns require priority of your attention, what you should improve, and where you fail. So follow these basic rules mentioned in our post, and make your campaigns better! 

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