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21 Feb 2018

Why Split Testing Matters in Your Email & How to Get Started

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels. One of the best ways to take full advantage of email is to practice split or A/B testing. Marketers that use data to run tests to smaller segments before casting the net wider can learn which emails are eliciting more of a response. Adopting this practice will make your mailings more relevant and, in turn, more successful. It’s not difficult to do, it just requires focus.

Some 57 percent of marketers are testing emails, according to MarketingSherpa’s 2017 email benchmark report. Still, many marketers aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits of testing, with only 19 percent of marketers testing more than half of emails. Those marketers that do test are better able to optimize the results of their campaigns.

Here are five tips on how to implement split-testing in your marketing strategy.

  1. Start with the Data: Customers provide lots of data when they browse your site and emails, and make purchases. Examine this data before sending out an email campaign. Identify your business goals and then select a small segment to send your test emails to. Send your A campaign to one group, and your B campaign to the second group. Make sure the groups represent the people that you hope to reach in the wider mailing to ensure that these people are a good representative of the larger audience.
  2. Identify What You Want to Test: Don’t know which subject line is going to drive the most clicks and conversions? It’s best to run a test. Want to know which image grabs the customer’s attention? Run a test. It doesn’t matter what you test, as long as you are clear on what you are testing. You can test copy, design, artwork, calls-to-action, preheaders, subject lines and so on. What matters is that you choose one element of the email to test and identify it. Don’t test too many elements at once or you won’t know which factor made the customers respond.
  3. Analyze the Findings: After you send the mailing, look at the reporting to decide your next move. You can choose if it is best to wait an hour, a day or a week, depending on your need. Once the given amount of time as passed, analyze the results to determine which campaign won. Look at opens, clicks, and conversions to determine which version of the test performed the best.
  4. Sending the Winning Email to the Wider Group: Once you have identified the winning campaign, send it to the rest of the group. Again pay attention to the response rates to ensure that the test is doing well. If it is not, then you may consider running more tests.
  5. Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Once you have tested a subject line, you may wish to further optimize the email by testing the call-to-action or the image, for instance. The more elements that you test, the more likely you are to improve the results of the campaign. Just be sure to know when it is time to move on. You don’t want to get lost down the rabbit hole of testing. But if your tests support your overall campaign and business objectives, then you should have no problem staying on track.