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How To Use A/B Testing To Improve Your Email Marketing

You know your emails could perform better. You spend hours debating what subject line to use, what wording is best and even whom the email should appear to come from. You take your time constructing the perfect email, and then you painfully hit the send button to await your fate.

Slowly, the results come in. Your open rate and click through rate are both good, but you cannot help but be disappointed. You expected great, not good.

What happened? You followed all the best practices you read about in blog articles. You analyzed every element of the email, what should you have done differently?

With A/B testing you can now focus your efforts on improving your emails with actual data. A/B testing compares two elements against each other to determine which one performs better.

This simple test will take the guesswork out of your email marketing activities and allow continuous improvements to take your emails from good to great.

The first step is deciding what to test. It is important to only test one element at a time. Testing more than one element at the same time is multivariate testing and will skew your results.

google tweets

Subject lines are generally the easiest place to begin A/B testing, and can offer a significant return quickly. If your subject line does not grab the reader's attention, your carefully crafted email will be ignored. A Google search for "best email subject lines" will return over 40 million results, with plenty of conflicting information and questionable advice, many of which will be irrelevant and potentially harmful to your specific email marketing needs. Just because a particular subject line or methodology worked for one company does not mean it will work for yours. That is because every list is unique, even if the industry is similar.

At Foremost Media, we spend a considerable amount of time discussing subject lines and before A/B testing, we were stuck with sending the subject line preferred by the Highest Paid Person's Opinion (HiPPO), or whoever campaigned the best for their choice. Now we can use real data to determine the best subject line for the email. Not sure what to test for subject lines? While word choice and length are popular, even small changes, such as punctuation can have a big impact on the open rate. Many organizations find success with personalizing subject lines to the recipient by using their first name. Finding out what works best for your organization will keep you from relying on assumptions.

Think you constructed the perfect subject line and want to test something else? Try changing whom the email comes from. Does it work better when it comes from your company's name or a real person? What if that real person is male, female or ambiguous? Best practices usually dictate that you should send from a gender-neutral name, allowing for the widest range of recipients to identify with sender, however, we have found that using a recognizable name within the company (our CEO Jon Ballard) can lead to the highest open rates.

Now that you have optimized your email for the open, it is time to focus on the content to increase your conversion and click through rates. Does a button work better than hyperlinked text? Testing the two variables without changing anything else will give you the answer. Even a seemingly small change, such as the call-to-action text can have a dramatic change on your click through rate. Generic words, such as "submit" or "enter" typically perform much lower than action-oriented words that directly relate the offer. Even using possessive case first person words (receive my checklist) have been shown to increase conversion rates in studies.

a tweet from Google

The bottom line is no matter how well your emails are performing, A/B testing will improve them. Looking to get started? Contact us to find out how we can take your emails from good to great.

2024 Update: Deepening Engagement Through Advanced Personalization and Segmentation in Email Campaigns

Since the publication of our initial article, the landscape of email marketing has undergone a remarkable transformation. What was once an arena dominated by broad-based strategies has now evolved into a sophisticated field where enhanced personalization capabilities take center stage. Despite these advancements, the importance of A/B testing remains paramount. It continues to play a crucial role, enabling marketers to refine and perfect these new personalization techniques.

Thanks to advancements in AI-driven data analysis, email marketing now transcends the basic demographic targeting of the past, venturing into a realm of unprecedented precision and relevance. Today's technologies empower marketers with advanced personalization tools, turning what was once a lofty aspiration into a tangible reality. However, it is through meticulous A/B testing that we can truly harness the full potential of these innovations, ensuring that every campaign resonates perfectly with its intended audience.

This combination of cutting-edge personalization and steadfast A/B testing represents the new frontier in email marketing, redefining the very essence of customer engagement and communication in the digital age.

AI-Driven Personalization: Artificial Intelligence has revolutionized the way we understand and interact with our audience. By harnessing the power of AI, marketers can now analyze customer behaviors, preferences, and engagement patterns in real-time. This deep insight enables the creation of hyper-personalized email content that resonates on an individual level.

  • Predictive Personalization: AI algorithms can predict future behavior based on past interactions, tailoring email content to suit each subscriber’s predicted interests.
  • Dynamic Content: Emails can now feature dynamic content that changes based on the recipient's profile or recent interactions with your brand, ensuring relevance at every touchpoint.

Sophisticated Segmentation: Segmentation in 2024 goes beyond traditional methods, leveraging complex data sets to create highly targeted groups.

  • Behavioral Segmentation: Segmenting audiences based on their interactions with your website, previous email engagements, or purchase history allows for incredibly targeted and relevant messaging.
  • Real-time Segmentation: AI tools continually update customer segments in real-time, based on evolving user data. This means your email campaign is always targeting the most relevant audience segment.

Personalization at Scale: One of the biggest challenges has always been personalizing at scale. AI and machine learning technologies enable marketers to automatically generate personalized content for thousands, if not millions, of subscribers, all at once.

  • Automated Content Creation: AI can generate email content, including subject lines and body text, tailored to each recipient, maintaining a personal touch even in large-scale campaigns.
  • Contextual Personalization: Understanding the context behind user actions allows for more nuanced personalization. AI can analyze when a user typically opens emails, their device preference, and even their mood based on interaction patterns.

Integrating Personalization Across Channels: Personalization isn’t limited to email. It extends across all digital marketing channels, creating a cohesive and seamless experience for the customer.

  • Omnichannel Personalization: By integrating data from various touchpoints, brands can provide a unified experience, ensuring that the personalization in emails is consistent with social media interactions, website visits, and in-app behaviors.

In conclusion, the advanced personalization and segmentation capabilities available today are transforming email marketing into a more dynamic, responsive, and customer-centric tool. At Foremost Media, we harness these cutting-edge technologies to create email campaigns that not only capture attention but also foster deep, lasting connections with your audience.

Ready to transform your email campaigns into powerful tools for customer engagement? Discover how Foremost Media's Conversion Rate Optimization services can elevate your marketing strategies to new heights. Visit our Conversion Rate Optimization services page to learn more about how we can help you optimize every aspect of your digital marketing for maximum impact. Don't miss out on the opportunity to turn your emails into conversion powerhouses - start your journey with Foremost Media today!