We’ve all heard it before when we fail—try, try, try again. But, if you’re not optimizing even your most successful content and communications with some method of A/B testing, then your team is missing out on engagement and, simply put, leaving money on the table. From strategic, technical, or even creative viewpoints, A/B testing has become a mainstay of the modern-day successful digital marketer at any size company. Let’s take a look at the current state of A/B testing and optimization to see how your team can best take advantage.
What Is A/B Testing?
Also known as “hypothesis testing,” A/B testing consists of creating at least 2 pieces of content, separated by a single identified variable, with the intention of running both and eventually choosing the “winner.” Why do I put “winner” in quotes here? It’s because, depending on the chosen variable, the parameters for “winning” or “losing” will be different for every category of marketing for any given business. Clickthrough rate, sales, sign-ups—it doesn’t matter so much what your definition of success is, as long as you have one.
Why A/B Test Emails?
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According to Trustworthy Online Controlled Experiments: A Practical Guide to A/B Testing by Kohavii et al.:
‘…a company that relies on customer-end engagement metrics like email open and conversion rates will nearly always outperform a competitor that strictly focuses on profit, a short-term metric that can seem positive, yet actually be a long-term negative, such as in the case of rising prices.’
In simpler terms, one of the best and most rich sources of data for any company is still email engagement. Knowing this, A/B testing could be compared to a distillation process for your customer insights, isolating from them the best content your team can hope to produce.
Unlike other ad materials (OOH, web ads, social media, etc.), email marketing relies entirely on active interaction from the viewer/reader from the jump—they have to click on your subject line! It doesn’t matter how wonderful your promotions are or how incredible your service is, if they don’t open up the message, you don’t make any money. By testing multiple versions, you not only increase your chances of creating a subject line that succeeds, but you also gather important data and information about what your recipients don’t want.
After your client has read your subject line and opened your email, the real fun begins. That same concept of widening your available audience with your subject line tests applies here, but in a different way. The body of your email is different and much more complex than your subject lines, therefore, you need to be more selective and precise with the changes you make and the variable you select. Want to simply change one sentence or add an image? Go for it. Want to change up the tone and make it more playful? Fantastic! Just make sure that you’re only changing one variable at a time and remember, the broader the change in the variable, the less exact the results.
Turning A/B Results Into A Strategy
While larger corporations have been employing A/B testing on a massive scale online since the inception of the web, affordable email automation and testing tools now exist everywhere. This change in the resources of the average small or midsize company has resulted in a seismic shift in content quality and strategy. The goal is no longer to simply convert an email into a single successful campaign, but to also use it and others to create a framework that accurately reflects a target audience’s tastes, buying patterns, and objections.
In order to do this effectively, it’s important that your team thoroughly and clearly communicates significant results, both good and bad, to all strategy and production stakeholders. Does your HR representative need to know an important discovery in the new email campaign? Probably (hopefully) not, but do your copywriters, designers, salespeople, and analysts? Absolutely! Letting them in on what is or isn’t working in your customers’ inboxes could shift them just enough in the right direction to provide exponential gains.
If you’re worried about investing more time or resources into A/B testing your email campaigns instead of putting them toward more contemporary media, don’t be. Paid marketing placements and social media, while extremely useful and necessary, only return an average of $2 in revenue per $1 spent. In comparison with the $38 generated by email marketing, the answer is clear. You can’t afford not to optimize your marketing.
If you are interested in implementing a fresh, dynamic, and robust system of email marketing, schedule a free consultation here and start making a difference in your bottom line today.
Effective 2021, Costello Creative Group has been recognized as a Top 20 Web Design Company in New Jersey by DesignRush.