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You had me at the subject line… The importance of email A/B testing

March 15, 2016

Emails are the gateway to any good business to customer relationship. Getting them right is hard, but rewarding. Getting them wrong? Is simpler and much more damaging. With any channel you choose to interact with your customers, it needs to be well thought out, well managed and thoroughly tested.

Imagine, if you will, the relationship you currently have with your customers. Think about your current open, click through and even your bounce rates. Could they be better? Could they work harder? In truth, there’s nothing that can’t be improved or worked upon but getting these three basics right can hold you in good stead for creating long lasting and an engaging relationship with your customer database.

Open me up!

A/B test your subject lines.

A great subject line can be the making of a great email campaign. You could spend hours crafting the content inside, curating the images and writing sterling copy but if no one opens it, no one reads it. No one sees it. No one clicks on it. No one bothers. All the while the time and effort you put into your campaign is moot as it’s failed to attract the attention of your audience.

By simply testing your subject lines and adapting your tone of voice, you can begin to tailor your audiences attention. Send the same email out with different headers to your audience using a 50/50 split. When you find your winner, improve on it for next time. Does your audience respond well to emojis? You won’t know until you try it! Through rigorous testing for one client we discovered including product names within the subject line vs none brand names gained more interest. An average of 13.23% of the test customers were opening brand emails up to non brand.

NOTES: Write consciously, descriptively and talk about the highlights of the content inside.


Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

A/B test your time and day.

There’s already been some fabulous research created by our friends at MailChimp which showcases the type of industry you’re in vs the time and day in which you should send your email. This is a great place to start when you want to begin testing but like every person, every business is different. Your audience might slightly differ from the norm, so testing your day and time sends can have a huge impact on your business email KPIs.

NOTES: Find your customer trend, it may not be the norm. Don’t get stuck in an email rut, test and find your email sweet spot.


It’s what’s inside that counts.

A/B test your content.

Once we’ve got the attention of your customer with a killer subject line, it’s reached them on their optimum time on their email opening day, it’s time to close the deal with some awesome content. Whether you’re advertising a sale or your latest collection of art pieces there’s no one way of displaying the goods. Testing your content can be as large as complete image changes or as small as different colour CTA buttons. For one of our clients we tested short content or “solus” emails over full product emails and we found that the CTR was 1.8% higher with shortened concise content. This works well for category, sale or new season products but may not be as useful for B2B clients, as information and content is key for messaging. Remember your audience. Analyse your results from most clicked links and if the ones you want aren’t getting the attention they deserve it’s time to think about testing. Getting this bit right will equate to the golden CTR you’re after and to the revenue generation or the event sign-ups you were looking for.

If you’re looking for ideas, or want to keep an eye on the competition check out giving you great ideas and inspiration as well as key places you can stand out from the crowd.

NOTES: Content is, and has always been, King. There’s no one way of showing how good you are and why someone should come to you, experiment.

If you’d like to talk to the team on how we can help improve your emails and marketing, get in touch today and see how we can help!

Written by Adele

Adele is Venture Stream’s Creative Director and co-founder of ecommerce website

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