Email A/B Testing – 3 Simple Variables to Test

Email A/B testing is an important marketer’s tool when it comes to understanding what works for your brand and for your audience.  The insights gained from the testing allow you to see what your audience connects to.

With regular A/B testing, you can understand and implement the tested components that resonated with your customers. Over time, this insight could improve conversion rates, resulting in a huge difference to the bottom line.

What Components Are Available To Test?

There are endless points to conduct an A/B test.  Here are 3 easy-to-test email elements to dip your toes into:

   1.    Email Subject Line
The Test: Which subject line receives the highest open rate?
What to Test: Create 2 emails with the same copy. Use a different subject line for each email
Example: You have an email for an event and you wonder, is it better to have the event name and location in the subject line or simply the event name? Create 2 subject lines:
a. Meet us at XYZ Event in Las Vegas
b. Meet us at XYZ Event.

Which subject line performed better?


   2.    Call To Action
The Test: Which Call to Action (CTA) does better? Words or Images?
What to Test: Create two versions of your email:

  • Version 1 will have text for the CTA
  • Version 2 will have an image for the CTA

Example: You have 2 emails:

  • One version has the Call to Action (CTA) in words. For example: Register Today!
  • One version has the Call to Action (CTA) as an image.  For example:

register

 

 

Which CTA received the most clicks?

   3.    Email Subject Line
The Test: Which email template received the most desired action?
What to Test: Create 2 emails using different email templates.  Each version will use the same copy, images (if possible) and subject line.
Example: You have 2 emails each using a different template:

  • Email template A
  • Email template B

Which Email template received the highest click-through rate or other desired action?

For best results, ensure the tests are run simultaneously, only variable is tested at a time and the production schedule allows time for testing.

Regular A/B testing helps shed insights into what your audience connects to.  Conducting 1 – 2 tests per week and tracking the results will provide information that can overtime improve email metrics.

8 Things to Double-Check Before You Begin Your Next Campaign Analysis

Instead of addressing the mistakes commonly made during analysis, I think it’s important to look into the mess you can create even before your analysis begins. In order to properly collect data, there are several things you need to set up a certain way. Some of these considerations are specific to your company, and your data will be skewed if you forget to do them correctly. Others involve how you set up your software to gather data in the first place.

Before jumping into your next campaign analysis, make sure your marketing automation program is properly set up to gather the data by doing the following 8 steps:

1) Select the right time period.

After you have the right domain selected, you should also make sure the right time period is selected. While it’s a natural instinct just to report on what appears on the dashboard without checking the time, that could easily lead to careless mistakes.

For example, many of us do end of the month reporting on the first day of the next month. At that point your reports have probably shifted from the previous month to the current month. With that said, you’ll want to make sure that you adjust the time range to reflect the previous month that you want to report on. This rule applies to end of the week reporting also. Additionally, if you are comparing this month’s progress to the previous month, make sure that the accurate month is reflected before you begin your analysis.

2) Make sure you’re reporting on the right domain.

You may have multiple domains that you need to track throughout the month. Maybe you have one for your main website, one for your blog, and another for your landing pages. No matter how your domains are set up, it’s important to make sure that you are reporting on the right one.

If you’re an international company, you might have domains for different countries or languages. When you do your reporting, it can be difficult to keep track of which domain has which goal. To make sure your goals and results are aligning, pay close attention to which domain you select each time.

Along those lines, if you own a specific channel of marketing, such as paid or email marketing, you may only want to report on one source instead of all of your sources as a whole. When sources are all presented one page, it can be easy to mistake the numbers from one channel with the numbers from another. To avoid any confusion, you should filter your sources to focus on one specific channel at a time.

3) Exclude your company’s IP address.

I’m sure you know the value of regularly monitoring how much traffic you get to each of your web pages. And while you want this number to be high, you don’t want it to reflect the page views that come from your colleagues and employees, as this will skew your data.

For example, imagine that you have 10 employees at your business, and each of them looks at different pages on your website an average of 10 times a day. That means that they are contributing an additional 100 views a day, 700 views a week, and up to 3,000 views a month. That data can completely change your progress toward your monthly goals. To avoid this, your website should be able to exclude your company’s IP.

4) Track your target geography.

Not every business markets to every country in the world, or every region of its country. This means that you need to pay close attention to the visitors who are in your target geography. Let’s say your target geography is Europe, and you are getting 1,000 visits a month to your website from there. However, you also find that you are getting another 1,000 visits a month to your website from Asia. If you are reporting your visits as 2,000 instead of 1,000, you are going to skew your data because you can only work with and nurture the people from Europe.
To ensure that you’re reporting on the right audience, take a close look at the IP of all people coming to your website. You can then start to segment based on people who are in your target geography to avoid spending time and resources on those who are not.

5) Evaluate your social media success.

When you run any marketing campaign, it is important to track how each lead is interacting with your marketing — even if the interaction occurs outside of your website. For example, let’s say that you are running a promotion on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website. Some tools may automatically bucket that as social media, leaving you with no indication of which social platform generated more traffic. Make sure you structure a solution to ensure you can determine which media is driving traffic to your website or assets.

6) Set up the proper tracking code.

Before you start referencing links to your website from anywhere, you need to make sure you have the proper tracking code installed on your website. This will ensure that you are tracking traffic coming to your site, gathering proper lead intelligence about visitors coming to your website, and offering insight to help you improve the amount of traffic that comes in to your website.
If you have been working on marketing campaigns that drive traffic to your site and do not see an increase in traffic, that may be a good indication that you do not have your tracking code set up properly. Without this information, it will be difficult to segment your database to deliver more personalized marketing experiences.

7) Understand what your metrics mean.

Before you even begin to do your analysis, you need to decide which metrics you want to report on. Furthermore, you need to decide what the metrics actually mean and how to interpret them. Many times we report on metrics that we think represent success, however it’s possible that they might mean something entirely different.
For example, Google Analytics will report on the time someone spends on your website. And while we often equate a long visit to an interested visitor, this isn’t always the case. Although you’d like to believe that someone who has clicked around on several of your pages is liking what they’re seeing, it could also mean that they are struggling to find what they are looking for. As you analyze your metrics, dig deeper to understand what they mean. The results may not always signify what they seem to at first glance.

8) Attach tracking code to all relevant assets. 

One of the hardest things for marketers to remember is to put your tracking assets in place before your marketing campaign launches. This may include, but is not limited to, creating tracking URLs, putting them across the different platforms, or tagging your pieces of content.
If these tasks aren’t done ahead of time, you could lose some of your analytics forever. For example, if you plan on using a tracking URL on your Facebook post but forget, you will miss out on all the clicks that your visitors took to get from Facebook to your site. If you edit the post and add it in, you will be able to get some of that back, but you will still not have everyone.
Taking all of these actions listed above in the beginning of your setup can save you in the end. Before you publish all of your assets, check to make sure you have everything in place to ensure the correct data for your analysis.