A-B Email Testing Basics

Email TestingWith spam emails being such a problem you would think that email marketing should be dead by now. Not only are the nice shiny email appliances that IT departments install blocking out emails that look like they are advertisements, but the recipients themselves are becoming immune to the noise that an abundance of email email creates.

But consider these facts:

      • Email marketing spending grows 10% year over year.
      • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment.
      • 82% of consumers open emails from companies.
      • 27% of consumers were more likely to say their favorite companies should invest in more email marketing

When you see statistics like this you might wonder why more businesses aren’t using email as a marketing strategy.

One thought is that small-medium sized businesses don’t quite know what works when it comes to building a list or sending out effective marketing emails. This can be addressed through some basic A/B testing. Not only will this exercise help a small business fine tune their basic email marketing strategy, but it will give them a foundation on which they can eventually build on.

To get started with A/B testing it is best to undergo an extremely simple test to get your feet wet. One way to do this is to test which type of call to action will work best for your email campaign.

The simple approach

Building a list can be as easy as including a call to action on the bottom of a piece of content on your website. Take Trophy Central as an example, a small graphic with a link to their sign up page is all they use to capture contact information. The reader knows exactly what they are signing up for so the lead is already going through a basic pre-qualification. There are no promises of free gifts, discounts or anything else that might convince someone who isn’t interested into signing up.

Dressing it up with incentives

Other companies opt for a more glamorous approach to their call to action. They offer incentives that are delivered immediately in return for the visitor’s email address. Maybe they enter the visitor into a raffle or they provide them with a report or white paper that can provide useful information. Others use coupons and savings as an incentive to sign up. The drawback to this you have to wonder how many people are signing up because they want to hear back from you in the future or if they simply want what you are offering as an incentive.

Email testing

The simplest way to find out which method works best for your business is to perform a basic A/B test. First, measure how many emails you are able to obtain with each method. To keep the results a pure as possible, find a tool that allows you to rotate the two different calls to action so that they are both displayed an equal number of times on the same content.

Once you have your two lists segmented, one captured from the basic call to action and the other that used incentives, begin pushing out your newsletter or other emails. Now start measuring the following from each list and compare:

      • Number, or percentage, or subscribers
      • Open rates
      • Unsubscribe rates
      • Conversions

Once you are comfortable with the method that works better for your business you can start thinking of ways to increase your sales using emails. Different A/B tests can be set up to track the performance of sales and incentives in the newsletter, different newsletter formats or even different types of content. The key is to get comfortable with a couple of easy tests before you move on to the more sophisticated ones.

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