As marketers, we understand the importance of A/B testing, especially with our email communications. Testing allows us to make decisions based on concrete data rather than gut instincts. But due to time constraints or limited resources, some marketers skip testing all together or limit their testing to just the subject line. According to the 2011 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Survey, 72 percent of marketers test the phrasing or length of the subject line while only 39 percent test the time of day.
While a compelling subject line is needed to capture attention and build curiosity, there are several other components of an email communication that should be tested regularly to maximize conversions.
Here are 4 Simple A/B Split Test Ideas
- Day of the Week: What day of the week produces the best open rate? Although there are general best practices for the best days to send emails, your audience may be more receptive to messages received on a Saturday rather than a Wednesday, or vice versa.
- Time of Delivery: What time of day works best for your audience? Take into consideration the various time zones of your audience when scheduling your time of delivery: 8:00 AM in Cleveland is 1:00 PM in London. Additionally, you can test different types of content (promotional versus informational) at various times of the day. Is your audience more receptive to promotional offers in the mornings and informational messages in the afternoon? Find out with a simple test.
- From Lines: Is your audience more likely to open an email from John Smith or ABC Company? According to Loren McDonald from Silverpop, there are two situations where it makes sense to use a person’s name in from lines:
- “The person’s name is your brand or is so recognizable, especially in your business domain, that it actually makes sense (e.g. Guy Kawasaki, Martha Stewart, Seth Godin).”
- “You’re a B2B company deploying lead-nurture emails, and the prospect has already had direct contact from a specific sales rep. Although ensuing emails might be automated, adding the sales rep’s name to the 'From' line works because of the direct relationship the prospect now has.”
- Calls to Action: Is your audience more receptive to a blue or green call-to-action button? Click through rates on calls to action can be impacted by their copy, size, location or design. Test various versions of your CTA with your audience, but remember to only test one element at a time, such as copy or location.
Remember this is A/B testing; keep it simple and only test one variant at a time. If you want to test more than one element, look into multivariate testing instead. Avoid testing around holidays as consumer behavior is typically outside of the norm and the results may skew your data.
Have a great A/B test success story to share? Post it to the comments section!
Shannon Fuldauer has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and email communications.
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