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A brief guide to email A/B testing

18 Mar 2013
By Ben

Email can be an excellent way to engage with your consumers and ensure a continuing relationship with them. But it’s important to make sure the content you’re offering is making the best possible impression.

Analysing the results of your email send is vital, but A/B testing offers an additional way to ensure continuous improvement in your mailouts over time. Here is a brief guide to A/B testing for email marketing.

What is email A/B testing?

Email A/B testing involves sending out two variations of the same email and analysing the results.

What are the benefits of A/B testing?

A/B testing allows you to work out which version of your email works best for your target audience. This means that when you next run a campaign, you can choose the better performing version.

What should you test?

You can really test anything, from time of day to landing pages, subject lines, email creatives, layout or anything else. We know that getting a good subject line is vital for getting a good open rate, so that’s something you might want to test first.

You may also consider testing a mobile friendly creative, as large numbers of people are now viewing emails primarily on their phones.

Common mistakes to avoid

One common mistake is not testing on a big enough data sample. If you only get 100 opens from an email send, you won’t be able to draw detailed conclusions about which subject line is most enticing, for example. Or, if you’re testing landing pages, and you only get 10 clicks, it’s not going to be enough to be a fair test.

Another common mistake is testing too many things at once. It’s probably a good idea to only test one variation per send. This will prevent the results from being too confusing, or conflicting with other tests you’re running.

What tools can be used?

Most email products have their own A/B testing areas, meaning you can run A/B tests easily. Alternatively, you can simply split your database, send out two versions of the email, and then compare the stats from each version to evaluate their performance.

Make sure you keep a record of what’s worked best so you can use the information in future mailouts.

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