Baking email templates since 2008

The MailBakery Blog
How to Use AB Testing to Refresh Your Email Marketing in the New Year

How to Use A/B Testing to Refresh Your Email Marketing in the New Year

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This article was last updated on October 27, 2022

If you are not utilizing email marketing, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Email marketing is so effective because you are sending out messages to a pre-qualified group of people. Whether you got their email address because they signed up for your list in-store, or they visited your website and gave it to you for more information, these customers all share one common trait: they have shown interest in your business. More than likely, the people you are sending these emails to have already done business with you. As you may have noticed, it’s easier to keep customers than it is to go out and find new ones.

For that particular reason, it is so important to run A/B tests when trying out new techniques or formats for your email campaigns. If you are unfamiliar with A/B testing, it is a technique where you send out two versions of an email to see which one performs better.

Think of it like this: you are a chef at a restaurant, and you want to improve your menu. You split up the restaurant into two even sections. One half of the restaurant receives your original menu and the other side will receive the original menu plus a few new options. This A/B test will show which menu performs better so the chef can determine what to include on the finalized version.

Here is how you can use A/B testing to refresh your email marketing in the new year.

Determine what to test

Determine what to test

The first step is to determine what it is you are going to test. You might find that you want to test a few things, or you might want to test everything. That’s terrific, and it can be done, but for this test to be successful and produce accurate results you want to test one thing at a time.  Here are some of the thing’s companies choose to test.

  • Subject line
  • Body text
  • Headline
  • Closing text
  • Images
  • Special offers
  • Personalization
  • Testimonials that are included
  • Call-to-action statements
  • The overall design and layout

Each of these things has an effect on the conversion process. For instance, your call-to-action statement in the email will determine how the sale is made, if one is made at all. In contrast, the subject line plays a huge part in determining how many people even open the email.

Before choosing what to test, think about the issue at hand. Has your open rate decreased? You might want to test your subject line. It’s important to test the most effective parts first. Your call-to-action statements, subject line and headline will all have a bigger impact on the conversions versus  whether or not you choose to include testimonials.

Who to test?

One of the most common questions with A/B testing is whether or not you send this test to the entire email list or just a small part. In most instances, you will want to send the test to the entire list. By doing so, you will get the most accurate results. However, sometimes it’s difficult to send the test to everyone. Here’s why.

  • Depending on the service you choose to host this test, they could charge by the email address. If you have thousands of people on your email list, you might want to only test what you can afford. If you do decide to only test part of your list, make sure that it’s totally random so you get the best results. Choosing customers you know will make a purchase will alter your results.
  • Perhaps you want to try something wild and crazy. In the event something goes terribly wrong, you won’t want to have thousands of customers receiving this email. Try keeping this test limited to a few people.

How will you determine success?

How will you determine success

Once you have determined what it is you are going to test and who is going to receive it, you must have a plan for how you are going to determine success. For instance, if you are testing the subject line, you will want to evaluate the open rate. If you have had a 15% open rate, you will want to aim for a 20% open rate. If the test comes back with no change in the results, you may want to consider running another test.

How to run tests

How to run tests

There are quite a few tools out there that you can use to run these tests. Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Active Campaign all have tools built in for you to run the tests that you need. Keep in mind that each tool varies but in general they will all help to perform your tests. If you are looking to enhance the overall look of your emails to make it more visually appealing, consider working with MailBakery to find a design that will enhance your test results.

How to analyze results

Once your test is complete, you will want to carefully look at three things from the two versions of the email you have sent: the open rate, click-through rate and the conversion rate when they make it to your website.

Many people don’t think to look at the conversion rate because after all, you are testing the email and not your website, right? Well not quite. You might find that one email leads to 15% of readers clicking through to your website and another email leads to 20%. Most people would assume the second email would result in more conversions but that is not always the case.

The email you send must have a consistent message with the message on your website. Say for example you offer a discount on a product, but when the customer gets to your website the discount is nowhere to be found. This is where you will lose customers. Click through rates are important but so are conversions. You can have a high click-through rate, but if the conversions aren’t increasing too, you have an issue.

Whether you have run A/B email tests before or this is your first time, it’s a great technique to get better results from your email marketing campaign. Want to learn more about how you can use A/B testing in your emails? Reach out to our team at MailBakery!