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Testing your email campaigns. A quick how-to…

Looking for a good way to improve your email marketing campaigns? Or having a hard time deciding which CTA, copy, subject line or image would work best for your email campaign? A/B or Multivariate testing is an excellent way to help you make that decision. You use actual client feedback to decide what works best or what doesn’t.

What’s an A/B test again?

In an A/B test you set up two variations of an email and send them to a (small) selection of your database. Half of that selection receives version A, the other half version B. Based on the best number of opens or clicks, you pick a winner and send that version out to the remainder of your database. Simple, no?

Okay, and what about multivariate testing? A/B split tests are used to test a single variable, whereas in a multivariate test you would test multiple variables at once.

What can you test?

Basically, anything you want. But be sure to keep it measurable and tangible. Most common used variables are:

  • Subject line
  • From name
  • Call to action
  • Use of image
  • Use of content
  • Target group (segmentation, male, female, interest, … )
  • Timing
  • ...

What you definitely need to keep in mind when executing these tests:

1. Size of test group

Always make sure the size of your test group isn’t too small. That way your test results are significant for the remaining part of your database. For instance: if your database holds 20,000 people, the ideal size of your test group would be around 5,000 people.

2. Timing

Good and decisive results won’t be measurable after 10 minutes. Envision an hour, at the very least.

3. Know where you’re going (have a underlying direction)

Set some goals before you start using these techniques. Check what got you good (or better) results. Take note of these results and apply those changes to the next emails you’ll be sending. And by all means: keep testing. People and their habits change fast.

What you could try (and maybe haven’t tried before)

1. Ask questions

A good way to tease your recipient, is to ask him/her a direct question. It triggers their interest and might be a convincing factor as to open your email. It could serve as a starting point to a conversation.

2. Put your CTA in the subject line

Opening your email literally calls for an action. Adding an action to that subjectline could trigger them easier into actually doing it.

3. An offer with a testimonial

Social proof has become a very important influencer in the decision making process. Adding a testimonial could positively influence people who are on the verge of clicking/buying.

4. A drastic redesign

A good way to test a new design, is by comparing both version in an A/B test. It is a good way to find out what works good, what doesn’t work at all and what you can improve or translate from the old design to the new.

5. Add a sense of scarcity to your subject line

Adding a sense of scarcity to your copy could trigger the impulsiveness of your audience. Or if the offer is limited in time, your urge people to take action.


The key to a successful campaign, is to know what works (and what doesn’t). A good way to discover that, is by performing a series of tests. Make your email or changes in your email measurable, set a goal and continue improving to achieve an email that suits your audience best.

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Posted on
Apr 1, 2019