A/B testing, or split testing, is a favoured tool of email marketing. It gives a rapid, dependable and accurate response to single variations in content. It is effective regardless of the size of the email marketing list. In addition, it is so simple that there is no excuse for not running a test on most campaigns. Do not underestimate the power of convenience.
If it is so all powerful you might wonder why you should need to change to a more complex system. Against all advice for article writing, I will state early on that you can get by using only A/B testing. However, who wants to just ‘get by’.
In order to reassure you that it is easy and efficient let’s look at an example of a problem that many of us must face: How to address your clients.
Imagine you are trying to sell a holiday in a mountainous area. You might normally split your email marketing lists into active and more reflective subscribers. There will be those who will be looking forward to chairlifts and others whom you will have to convince that funicular railways are safe.
To attract the cooler crowd you might think that changing the Subject Line to a more familiar form of address, a sort of ‘Hi, Tony’, to the more adventurous. The open rate will show if this is of benefit, but under A/B testing, everything else is left the same.
Going through the email in stages, changing images, the proportion of copy, its tone, its typeface, will not only take time and money but your subscribers might already be wary of emails that start chatty and then return to your norm.
The idea behind testing the friendlier greeting is to reflect the norm for those subscribers who are more adventuresome. You might think that the email body needs changing to conform to the expectations the Subject Line may have generated.
Redesign the whole email from the ground, or at least the email marketing template, up. Keep your banner and logo of course, but consider subtle changes to show that this is, in some way, different.
Work out what you consider might attract your target audience and get them to buy. One change that comes to mind is the main image being something exciting. Instead of the picturesque Swiss chalet or a boat tour of Lucerne, go for an active ski centred image. Bright skies, a mountain in the background, and the promise of a day of adventure.
Keep the copy short, perhaps just bullet points, emphasising activity but including aprés ski. In other words aim everything at the type of customer you are targeting.
Test two groups of your target audience and then compare the two responses. If your more bouncy email got a better response then it will confirm that the overall style is an improvement when targeted.
It is not A/B testing as many facets were varied but the basis is the same. One significant difference is that you have the basis to move forward. All you have to do now is A/B test the different features you changed.