Could my email campaigns be performing better? Could writing a different subject line increase my open rates? Could changing one small element of my email result in much higher conversion rate? How can my emails get more customers?
If you’re asking yourself any of these questions, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even when you’ve followed email best practices to the letter, you may find it challenging to achieve the results you want. That happens to the best campaigns, but don’t get downhearted. That’s where a big dose of A/B testing comes in to maximize the outcome of your prize email campaign.
A/B testing can pinpoint the personal preferences and habits of your customers to generate more effective marketing initiatives. By testing multiple elements of your email campaign, you can determine how to optimize the one you’re sending and make the most of future sends.
If one email performs better than another, and you don’t know for certain why, or you have not reached a level of statistical confidence based on the test percentage or sample size, then more testing is needed. We recommend the 10-10-80 Method. Send 10% of your contact list one version and another 10% a variation. Send the other 80% of your contact list whichever performs the best!
A/B testing examples to get the creative juices flowing
Elements to Encourage Opens
- Subject Line
- Personalize: Recipient name, location, demographic or behavioral attributes (hobbies, education, finance, marital status, etc.) are a few options. John, here’s your list of the best places to visit this summer for golf lovers.
- Numbers: 8-6-7-5-3-0-9! The top 10 tips to cooking a spicy meatball
- Special Characters: Any emoji you can imagine can all be added to the subject line. Have a 🙂 New Year!
- Length: Ultra-short or long subject line. Movie on us!
- Questions: Subject lines don’t always have to be statements. Could your profit margins increase using our software?
- Urgency: If you want your reader to buy your product right now, try using one of these lines: Only one day left! This offer is expiring soon.
- Reader Benefit Verbs: What will your offer do for the reader? Our safari guidebook will teach you everything there is to know about giraffes.
- Reader Benefit Adjectives: How will you describe and support what you are offering? Our must-share list of useful marketing stats.
- Offering: A discount in the subject line can be powerful. Get 20% off shipping on your next purchase.
- Tone: Focus on a friendlier message or get straight to the point. Buy today!
- Gender: Male, female, or unisex names can all be tested. From: Riley Smith (one of the most common unisex names)
- Ethnicity: Change the last name based on region, product or special. Navarro is very common in Spain
- Non-human: You can send as your brand, product or even your department. Marketing@distribion has sent you an email.
- Job Title: Some readers trust a message more when they know it is sent from senior level personnel – Insert Warren Buffet.
- Day of the Week: Try various days throughout the week to find when your reader responds best.
- Time of Day: Focus on when your message would best relate to the schedule of your reader.
- Season: Holiday offers can peak just before Christmas, but you could be missing out on an opportunity if you focus all your efforts on one shopping season.
Email Contents & Layout
- Visual Design Elements
- Image:Text Ratio: We recommend when you are using an image in an email that the ratio is no greater than 2:3, but try comparing that email to another with only text.
- Image Placement: Best practices say you should keep images toward the top, but you could try multiple images throughout the page as well. Your product often dictates a need for multiple images.
- Image Appearance: Images can come in all sizes, shapes and colors.
- Call to Action for Images: If the CTA is placed inside the image, use alt-tags in case reader email settings prevent image display.
- Linkability: Images should always be clickable and linked to a relevant landing page, but lead the reader to a landing page with a different look as a test.
- Products: Product environment can change the reader’s perception of the brand. Many readers like products simply displayed with a white background, as others prefer products in a lifestyle shot.
- Animations: It’s so easy to create eye-catching animations. We like to use a free online animation creator website called gifmaker.me.
- Image Shape: Is it hip to be square? Maybe. Maybe not. Remember your images don’t always have to be one certain shape.
- Graphs and Charts: The proof is the pudding! Showing off with graphs and charts could spring newfound confidence in your message.
- Social Media Icons: Social media icons are now available for download in various shapes and colors. Gain new followers by adding the icons to the header, footer or throughout the email body.
- Integration: Embedding video straight into the email could be more time saving to your reader than having to drive readers to a landing page. Sample both.
- Usage: Try incorporating the term [Video] into the subject line, pre-header, title or body copy to attract video lovers.
- Length: If your customers can stomach a long video, go right ahead. But perhaps a short and sweet message is more appealing.
- Tone: The tone should always be on-brand, but instead of limiting your message to just one style, try mixing it up between casual and direct demeanors.
- Links: Entice your readers to take action by linking images, buttons or sections of the body copy.
- Header: Experiment with the header message by replacing the text copy, size, color, height and font.
- Pre-header: Variations in message copy can describe the email content and encourage readers to click through.
- Tone: If you want to experiment with humor, make sure the message is on point with your brand. Remember your tone doesn’t always have to be buttoned-up. Groupon is a great example of a brand using humor to attract buyers.
- Message Call to Action: Avoid generic CTAs, but don’t be scared to try multiple options.
- Columns: More the merrier? Perhaps. Test one, two or three columns, but keep in mind that the more columns don’t always make for an easier read.
- Length: Readers will give up on an email if they are not ready or willing to read through. Moving lengthy content to landing pages can shorten the email and keep your readers interested.
- Perspective: When you experiment with gender or group-specific sender names, make sure you write the message from the respective male, female or group perspectives.
- Layout: Applying subtle or drastic changes to the theme layout could draw the readers’ eye toward where you want them to look or confuse them instead. We recommend a simple design layout that helps comfortably move the reader from point to point.
- Background: The standard white background is clean, but some readers react to more vibrant colors.
- Highlighting: For message areas of particular importance, try changing the color or font to help the copy stand out.
- Integration: With the right email platform, you can embed a form right into the email. If that is not an option, you can always place a link to direct readers to the form page.
- Questions: Some readers are not willing to give out a lot of personal information. Less required answers could increase the number of form completions.
- Size: Try changing the size of the form field – remember, sized for mobile is nearly essential these days.
- Disclaimer: Disclaimers can help ease the minds of your readers. Assure your readers that “Your information will not be shared” or “You will not receive SPAM messages.”
- Image: Many sales teams believe adding a personal photo or company image helps build the relationship between reader and brand.
- Contact Information: How detailed you are with your contact information is entirely up to you. Although you must include a physical address in the email footer, we recommend at least your company name, website and phone number.
Remember, not all A/B tests will give you the answers you seek. You will be shocked by what wins and what loses. Keep testing. Never stop! Your readers are people with evolving tastes, so keep up with them by A/B testing every campaign.
About the Author
Alex Navarro is a California-native who currently lives in Dallas, Texas with his fantastic wife. In the past, he’s been responsible for creating, developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns and has enjoyed developing personalized marketing and promotional plans. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.