Does your business's open rate resemble a pulse -- full of ups and downs? And more ups and downs? Every brand goes through peaks and valleys, but if the peaks are nothing more than lucky breaks, it’s time to change your approach.
The fact is, campaign success shouldn’t be left to chance -- putting in place smart techniques and proven best practices can ensure you get the results you want, every time. And using split testing as a technique before you send out your email campaign is one of the best ways to make sure you get it right.
To get started, take two randomly selected sample groups of your subscribers to test. The larger your test sample, the more accurate your results. Send one group the sample newsletter, and the second group the newsletter with a slight variation. Ideally, all other elements of the email are identical. That way, you can see if the slight change bears any results, and get an accurate picture of how your email opt-in list responds to the campaigns.
Here are five easy tips to test -- and get the most out of -- your campaigns:
1. Decide what you'll test
Design testing that goes further than just colors and call-to-action (CTA). You’d be surprised at the test results of an email campaign with the same content, but one as a fancy HTML design and another as a plain text personal-looking email.
A good email marketing platform should make it very easy for you to test various factors and quickly make your campaigns more efficient.
Related: 4 Examples of Bad Email Manners
2. Personalize subject lines
We know that personalization in a subject line instantly increases open rates -- but which type of personalization works better? People are used to seeing their name in the subject line, but the recipient’s web address or city stirs some added interest.
3. Find buzzworthy content
It’s not just luck that makes emails with videos and infographics get better results -- that type of content tends to generate more buzz. Test the content of your emails to figure out what works best with your recipients. Do they respond better to newsletters vs. discounts or testimonials vs. blog content?
4. Define success
Know what you are testing for. If you’re looking to increase conversion rates, for example, testing is a great fit. According to Monetate’s 2014 personalization e-book, A/B testing is the second most valuable method for improving conversion rates.
Or, if your goal is to get better click-and-open rates, look at your historical open rate and then decide how much improvement you want to see. For example, if group A’s subject line received a nine-percent open rate and group B’s subject line got a four-percent opening rate, marketers know something about group A’s subject line triggered a better response.
Further experimenting and analysis will let you continue stacking improvements on top of each other -- do you get a bump in opens when you use their first name in the subject line? How about words like “video” or “discount”? Eventually, these improvements create a winning formula.
5. Always use best practices
Your own test results may be unique, but there are some global best practices that everyone should keep in mind when conducting split testing:
- The minimum sample size recommended is 100 people
- Slice and dice your database by demographic data -- age ranges, gender, location, etc.
- To decide the best day, send the same sample email to a random group of people each day, over seven days
- Only test one variable at a time for best results
- Listen to the data collected. Never trust your hunches
Ultimately, the more strategic you are about your email campaign, the more success you’re likely to achieve. Testing is a proven strategy that every marketer should employ. Even if your email contact list only contains 200 names, testing your email campaigns will help you figure out how to squeeze every ounce of engagement out of those 200 readers -- which can have a big impact on your bottom line.