It’s Time to Test

On By - Analytics, Subject Lines, Testing - 1 Comment

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Suppose you have two great subject line ideas for a new email you are preparing to send to your list. Want to find out which one your subscribers will respond to the most? A/B testing allows you to observe what content your audience responds to and then use only the content that they engage with the most. For example, A/B testing allows you to take two or more versions of your subject line and test them against each other to see which one gets the better response from recipients.

A/B testing is the fastest way to learn what content produces the best response from your subscribers and then send them the most relevant, applicable messages in the timeliest manner.

If you have not taken advantage of A/B testing yet, there’s no time like the present to start! There are several different items you can test in your emails, including the subject line, call-to-action, graphic buttons, navigation/footer links and recovery content. If you want the full how-to on testing all of these options, dig into our free white paper, Optimize Your Email Strategy. Right now, let’s walk through the steps of a simple, subject line A/B test.

First, you need to choose what metric you want to measure. Open rate is the metric on which subject line has direct impact; however, you could also test metrics such as click rate or click-to-open rate in case a subject line tempts people to click more. If you are testing the content of your email rather than the subject line, then the most important metrics to test are click rate and conversion rate.

Creating your test subject lines is the next step: Decide what your goal is for this message, and what messages you want your readers to understand. Then write two or more subject lines that take different approaches to the same message. For example, one could be a direct call to action, while the other could be a softer marketing pitch.

Another good idea with A/B testing is using a control email, especially if you send emails with similar subject lines and content on a regular basis. For example, if you are testing your monthly newsletter that is always sent with the subject line This Month’s Newsletter, you make this title your control when A/B testing.

Once you are satisfied with the subject lines you have created, always perform an internal test before releasing them to the public. This ensures the emails follow best practices and that the segmentation and test-list rules you’ve selected are working. Now you can deploy your A/B testing campaign!

Through the WhatCounts A/B testing feature, you can have the winner of your A/B test deployed after a certain amount of time has passed or you can manually select the winner after the testing period is complete. This scheduling depends on what type of content was in the email: if it was a time-sensitive request, then you may want to schedule the results to be deployed sooner.

Have more than one subject line you would like to test for the same email? WhatCounts offers the option of testing multiple subject lines for the same email. That’s right – you can test up to 10 slightly or completely different subject lines to pinpoint in even more detail what your readers want to hear about. Read another one of our recent blog posts. We’d love to hear from you!

Joy Ugi
Digital Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts


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Answers almost everything with "for sure," enjoys craft beer, loves email, and is always good for a grammar pun. Wrangles content for WhatCounts.

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