5 Ways to Start AB Testing Your Email Marketing

Email Marketing AB testing your email marketing is essential to increasing your website sales.

Email Marketing remains one of our favorite marketing channels.  If you’re not leveraging email marketing, you need to start.  However, the frequency and effectiveness of this marketing channel does depend on your sales model, your product and most important, your audience.

If you’re a B2B business, too many emails could turn off your prospects.  However, too little could lead to them not even remembering who you are.

For E-Commerce stores, you can walk a fine line between aggressive email marketing or just enough.  For E-Commerce businesses, your most valuable asset is your inventory and the relevancy it has to your subscribers.  We can assume that since they are a subscriber, they have an interest in your product.  But, if your product is more of a once in a blue moon need, keeping your subscribers engaged could be more challenging.

Regardless of where you fit in this email quandary, one thing is for sure – email works!

How to AB Test Your Email for Marketing Effectiveness

A/B Testing is something we all aim to do, but many businesses fail to get started, or they rush to get results and don’t carry the test through long enough to make a difference.

The length of testing can vary for each business taking part.  If you have subscribers in the high thousands, you may be able to complete A/B quicker because the volume at which you can send is high enough to get a reasonable sample.

If you have smaller numbers, you may have to run tests for a longer amount of time in order to reach the sample size that tells you compelling information.

Here are 5 practical things to consider when planning and executing an effective A/B Email test.

  1. Don’t make any sudden moves: The first rule in A/B testing is to not try to fix what isn’t broken.  Your subscribers may be used to hearing from you (however infrequent or spammy it is) in a certain way.  The last thing you want to do in a test is to broadcast you’re changing their experience.
  2. Take in one step at a time: When you start to test, you’re going to want to get a strong enough sample of each change you’re making.  You have to make one change at a time for each test.  This takes a lot of patience for many businesses because they want new results now.  Don’t cave on this.  Start with sending the same email you would have sent to everyone and create 1, 2 or more segments.  Send them all the same exact email but with one change at a time.  Maybe it’s the subject line, maybe it’s a call-to-action.  It will all matter over time but you have to let it run its course.
  3. Leave no stone unturned: Sometimes the tinniest of details can get past you in an A/B test.  Colors can matter, text vs. image, content length, bold vs. regular font, font style, buttons vs. text CTA, no CTA (if so inclined).  Before you get started on your A/B test, you should make a list of all the variables you will want to test.  That will help you define a bit of your testing calendar.
  4. Too much or not enough: Too many people fear spamming their customers with too many emails.  Again, finding the right balance matters, but if you’re in this boat of not wanting to send emails, ask yourself why you’re open for business.

    If we can assume you have a product or solution for your customers that eliminates their need or pain-point, then, why wouldn’t you want to share that information with as many people as you can.  If you’re selling something you don’t believe in enough to shout it from the rooftops, then get out altogether.
  5. Pay attention to what your subscribers want to read: A lot of businesses struggle with the issue of not knowing what they’d even say if they do more consistent email marketing. Again, this will vary based on the type of business you have.  Inventory based businesses like E-Commerce or Online Marketplaces will probably need to focus more on inventory.  Where as Software as a Service (SaaS) or largely service based businesses may need to focus more on customer satisfaction or re-enforcing their subject matter expertise.  If you’re uncertain, you should test this.  Mix up some of your content to see what resonates.

Once you’ve started the process of A/B testing, you can become addicted to it. You learn so much about your customer’s behavior that it starts to change the culture in your marketing team. Enjoy the process and you can enjoy the results!

If you want to read how we put these practices in place for one of our clients, read our Increasing Bid Value case study >