The following post comes courtesy of our guest blogger, Anna Yeaman, from Style Campaign, an email marketing and design agency based in Los Angeles, CA. Through a combination of A/B testing with Campaign Monitor and use of animation, Style Campaign discovered that it could lift an email campaign’s click-through rate by an additional 26%.
I recently ran an A/B test on an email campaign on behalf of our client, Dressed Up!, to determine if embedding an animated image increases click-throughs. In order to do so, I prepared two emails with a slight variation (click to view emails in a new window):
The animated GIF in Email Version B consists of six frames and plays in the majority of email clients:
Testing the waters
Initially I stuck to subject line tests. These take seconds to set up and the payoff can be substantial. For example, here are the subject lines we used for our September newsletter:
- Subject line A: ‘[firstname,fallback=Check out] – Mobile & Animated Emails’
- Subject Line B: ‘Texting (SMS) & Email :: 360 Product Photo :: Animated GIFs’
My money was on the short, personalized subject line. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Subject line B increased our open rate by 250%. Bolstered by the discovery that a five-year-old could set up an A/B test, I started to test email content.
Setting up the A/B test
Under the A/B split campaign tab, I was given three choices:
- Subject Line
- Email Content
- From Name
I selected Email Content for use in this A/B test. At this stage I also entered the subject line, ‘VIDEO: Susan Boyle Makeover :: Fall Tadashi Gowns Modelled’, which would be used for both versions:
As normal, you are prompted to import your HTML email creative. The only difference is that you do this twice. Then, after selecting my recipients, I moved on to defining the A/B split.
I’ll admit that the segmentation feature intimidates me, so I was relieved that this part of the process was so intuitive. Dragging the bar, I set it up so that 25% of Dressed Up! subscribers received Version A and 25% received Version B. The remaining 50% would receive the winning version.
Underneath I selected, ‘Total clicks on selected link’. This allowed me to determine a winner based on the number of clicks the video graphic received, rather than total unique clicks:
Finally I set the A/B test to run for 5 hours, after which time the winner would be sent to the remaining subscribers.
It takes only a couple of minutes to set up an A/B content test. I had no problems on my first run though, without reading any documentation!
Overall, Version B generated a 26% increase in the click-through rate, in comparison to the non-animated version of the email. One explanation is that the animated GIF draws the eye, further acting as a visual cue by crudely simulating video.
My client was thrilled by the results, which I presented to him as a PDF, via the Campaign Snapshot page.
I’ll be doing more A/B tests to refine this technique, such as testing three animated frames vs. nine frames, to see if more images result in higher conversions. On top of this I’ll be testing a horizontal vs. vertical layouts, after being inspired by this unique Abercrombie & Fitch email.
I’d love to hear from other Campaign Monitor users, what A/B tests have you carried out?
To learn more about embedding video into email, visit our resource, ‘The Current State of Video in Email’