A/B testing is often used to test variations to web pages and applications in an effort to increase user engagement. But A/B testing can also be used to good effect in the world of email, and the same concepts apply.
A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a randomized experiment with two variants (A and B) to determine which produces the best results. A/B testing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to optimize your email engagement. The goal of A/B testing email is to improve open and click-through rates by identifying phrases, formats, or techniques that subscribers are more likely to respond to. Once identified, they can be combined to significantly improve the success and profitability of your email campaigns.
When A/B testing bulk email, choose one element to test at a time, such as:
- Subject line – Try variations of the same message.
- From name – Determine whether subscribers are more likely to open your email if it comes from a person versus the company or organization.
- Personalization – Address emails to either the subscriber’s first name or their last name (“Mrs. Jones”)
- Delivery dates/times – Send emails at different dates/times to determine when subscribers are most likely to open your email.
- Call to action – Vary the language used to entice readers to click.
- Hyperlinks – Determine whether subscribers are more likely to click on a linked image or linked text.
- Email design – Change the layout of your emails, testing one versus two columns, for example.
When deciding what to test first, consider where you are having the most difficulty. It doesn’t make sense to focus on click-through rates if your open rate is low. If that’s the case, then testing subject lines, ‘from’ name, and delivery dates/times can help you determine how to increase open rates. Regardless of which element you choose, be careful to conduct one test at a time. For example, don’t A/B test a landing page at the same time you’re A/B testing an email that directs to that landing page. You won’t know which element drove an increase (or decrease) in clicks.
It is also important, whenever possible, to test your entire list. This, along with randomly and equally splitting the list will help ensure accurate results. Both variations must also run at the same time, otherwise you are introducing another element (day/time) that can influence your results.
To learn more about SparkPost’s real-time analytics, which you can use to support A/B testing email, see https://blog.sparkpost.com/real-time-analytics-digging-into-email-metrics/.
Weekly Email Marketing News Digest
It’s the weekend before Christmas, and we hope you’re just as excited as we are!
Big news this week with Instagram’s change to their terms of service and resultant uproar in the online sphere. Clearly, corporations need to be mindful of how protective people are of personal privacy as that continues to be an emotional trigger point for online users. Instagram reverted back to their original terms days later with a blog post announcement by co-founder Kevin Systrom. Not to belabor the point, but here’s another privacy gaffe making the rounds.
Marketing and children. Replace “and” with a “to”, and that line is enough fuel to spark lively debates about the need to protect children’s data from being exploited. The Center for Digital Democracy has filed a complaint that the popular Spongebob Diner Dash mobile app has violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Its crime? Collecting the email addresses of users without first requiring parental consent. The Spongebob Diner Dash app has since been removed from the iTunes store.
Mobile marketing serves as an attractive option for marketers in generating new leads due to its prevalence and effectiveness, but caution is clearly needed. Mobile is one of the most private user experiences. While it exists as a unique opportunity to reach customers, it’s easy to cross the line and become too intrusive. When children are involved, things get even trickier.
More on the issue of privacy.
We all know how valuable email marketing is to companies. It’s been known as the best tool to nurture a lead, and reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. Email guru, David Daniels stated in a recent webinar that social media does not replace email, but rather complements it. Obtaining a potential lead and building up one’s database for email marketing is necessary for marketers, but how this is done matters. Gaining personal data without customers filling up a form and requesting more information or making a purchase, strays too far into the nebulous ethical grey area. It’s like waving a red flag in the face of bulls.
A/B testing continues to be one of my favourite reading topics. It’s fascinating to see how simple tweaks to colour and font can influence clickthrough rate.
Designers all over the world despair, but as Obama’s campaign staff discovered, a personal tone and gawdy design is sometimes the key to brand engagement. As far as I am concerned, if I’m getting conversions through ugly design, then I’ll stand behind ugly design!
Aside from design, here is a comprehensive list of elements that continue to affect open rates:
- Event triggers
- Sender recognition
- Subject lines and relevance to content
- Word count
- Forwarded emails
- Time of day
The creation of personas allows for subsequent messages to be tailored to customers’ needs and this has seen to be more effective than normal emails in driving clicks.
Look how well the design below works when it is opened on a mobile phone. Lyris has highlighted 6 brands that have created some great designs that work across multi-channels. Also check out this cool presentation on responsive design.
And finally, to put everyone into a Christmas mood here’s a lovely infographic about driving Christmas sales. Email is seen to be the most effective at 43%, SEO and SEM tie at 33% and social media comes in fourth at 21%.
Capitalize on mobile to increase your open rate in your marketing campaigns with our 10 Steps To Mobile Messaging Guide!