A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing, allows marketers to experiment with and assess their best efforts with various marketing strategies. Such testing provides these marketing scientists with the data they need to make smart, engaging moves powerful enough to sway audiences — the decisions that will ultimately lead to higher engagement and more frequent conversions.
A/B testing: trial & error
Consider this when deciding which elements to test: The purpose of testing is to take a systematic and scientific approach in highlighting the most effective factors of your campaigns. By taking the data you collect from your testing, you’re then able to create campaigns driven and backed by data, eliminating the guesswork of what audiences like to see — eliciting actionable results of engagement that turn into conversions. This approach means that you need to choose carefully what elements you’ll test — which combinations to juxtapose and which to test in synchronicity.
So, when embarking on an A/B test trial run, there are a number of elements of which testing could help you better understand best-practice strategies. We’re going to cover three absolutely fundamental components that could make or break your campaigns:
- Subject lines
- Content organization
- Creative design
Depending on how creative you are with these aspects, there are likely hundreds of combinations. Choose the versions you and your team think are the most powerful, those that are attractive, actionable, and easy to engage with.
A/B test these key factors
How does a keen marketer create a perfect subject line that will drive customers to open an email? Especially when there are approximately 600,000 words in the English language, and now in addition, over 3,600 emojis — all of which could be the unique combination for a killer subject line. Get started by figuring out the most important parts of your message; draft the possibilities. Test the following subject line features:
- Length — short vs. long subject lines
- Personalization — names or touches of information about your customer
- Emojis — whether or not to include in addition to text
Most importantly — whatever you do — create relevancy and comfortable urgency.
Content length & organization
Congratulations! Your customer has opened your email. That’s one step successfully completed. The next step is to consider your content organization. Which vertical you’re writing for and what your purpose for emailing is will determine how your content should be organized.
Important factors to consider would be whether or not you need a lot of messaging itself — do you need a lot of copy in your message, or will your email consist primarily of photos and simple CTAs? Is your email an advertorial for a newsletter? How much text of the topics should you include under the headlines? Also, consider how you will arrange your content — should you include the bits of longer text first, or start with short headlines and lead into the message later? Play around with sequencing the content pieces in various orders, e.g., 1-2-3 or 3-1-2, etc.
Creative assets & design
The last, but certainly not least, important factor to test is the creative assets of your email. This part is essentially the artistic side of your message that should engage your readers’ visual sense. Keep in mind that you don’t want your email to be either too dramatically overwhelming or too boringly underwhelming. Features such as color, design, stock imagery, textual art or system text, and moving animations or static images, all provide for endless options to combine and create. Try testing email designs that vary in depth & design across a spectrum, and continue to work with those versions which seem to drive the most engagement.
Get started by defining a testing plan
Now, testing your campaigns on segmented audiences with structured design and evaluation will tell you what’s working and what needs to be tossed. Results like these enable systematic improvement, actionable processes and informed marketing decisions. Make a plan to approach your testing much like you would the scientific method (without the terrible junior high flashbacks).
- Define your objective
- Create a hypothesis
- Design test
- Define your control group
- Evaluate results
Review, rework, retest
Here’s a tip: Make sure your testing pool is large enough to be significant, and act on the results by making adjustments. Winning your audience, driving engagement, driving revenue — whatever you want your results to be — it’s like any other challenge; It takes work and lessons learned, but ultimately in the end, with enough testing, you’ll succeed.
To learn more about A/B testing check out our blog on the basics.