Why should you be A/B testing emails? Well for a start, it can consistently help you achieve higher ROI and engagement rates which, of course, can improve your entire email program.

While most people associate A/B testing with website design, it’s actually a great way to create effective email marketing campaigns as well. Why? Because A/B testing makes it easier to discover what your audience responds best to, so you can really optimize your email marketing strategy.

Why A/B testing emails is so important

Is A/B testing your emails worth it? Without a doubt.

Let’s face it; customers want variety and because we live in a world of options, it’s important to keep your email marketing campaigns interesting if you want people to open your emails. That’s where A/B testing comes in.

A/B testing allows you to try out multiple variations of each campaign so you can focus on producing content that’s most effective for your audience.

How does it work?

Once you’ve decided on a focus for your email campaign, you can then create different variations of it by changing one small aspect at a time. This could be the subject line, call-to-action, send time, etc.

Basically, A/B testing is putting one version of an email against another to see which the audience responds to best.

You can change any part of the email (more on that below) to create a unique variation (email B) and once you’ve made that change, test it out and see how it stacks up against the “original” email (email A). These two options are also referred to as the “control” and “variation”.

The “winning” email is the one with the highest open or click rates. And, once you've determined the winner, you can use those winning characteristics in your next email campaign. This way, you'll know for sure that you're sending out the kind of content that will have your customers adding to their carts.

What variables can you use for A/B testing emails?

– Subject line and pre-header: This is the first bit of text that subscribers will see when they receive your emails and it can have a huge impact on your open rates. You could add emojis or play around with the wording and use more emotive language. If you're advertising a discount, try an SL with a discount percentage vs an SL with a $ savings amount.

Personalization: You can also use essential sender information such as the customers name to personalize your emails and increase open rates. It’s something that can make a really positive first impression.

Send times: There are only 12 hours in a day and your contacts only have a few of those to dedicate to their email inbox. So you want your emails to reach people at the perfect time, during those moments when they’re most likely to open their emails and be more receptive to them. Depending on the type of business you have or the kind of emails that you’re sending, the right send times can really boost your sales and engagement.

Content: When it comes to email content, you can change all sorts of variables. This includes the tone of voice, greeting and even the length of your email campaign.

Buttons and CTA: Changing the text on your call-to-action (CTA) buttons, the background color or even the position of the button can impact conversion rates significantly. It’s up to you to discover which button will have customers clicking away.

How do you decide what to test first?

Consider what you would like to optimize. For instance, if you want to optimize open rates then it’s a good idea to test things like the subject line and pre-header or send times. All of these elements have an impact on the open rate of an email campaign.

If you want to optimize your click rate you need to think more about the content of your email campaign once users have opened your email. That means testing things like images, colors, design, text or buttons and CTA language.

If you want to optimize your conversion rate, consider specific content like the type and amount of products you’re displaying, the discount or coupon you want to highlight, as well as the personalization and overall length of your text.

Regardless of what you’re testing for, you’ll want to log all the results so you can use them to optimize your future email campaigns and get that ROI way up.

A/B testing examples to get you started

  • Subject lines:

Normal subject line vs emojis in the subject line.

“Your 10% discount is ready” vs “💰Your 10% discount is ready👚”

  • Pre-header:

Longer vs shorter.

“Shop All Our New Arrivals” vs “Shop Now”

  • Send time:

Earlier send time vs later send time.


Did you know?

You can also run A/B tests on workflows such as welcome flows and abandoned cart flows using the same kinds of variables.

How A/B testing can really maximize your ROI

A/B testing is a statistical way of comparing two different versions of an email campaign to determine which version performs best. This is a data-driven approach to understanding your customer and why they make the choices they make.

That’s why it’s so effective at increasing conversion rates, sign-ups and open rates. You have the luxury of comparing two versions of the same element in order to see which one yields a higher conversion rate or a higher click-through rate.

A/B testing is definitely worth your time because it gives you the advantage of knowing how certain aspects of your emails will be received in future. Essentially, A/B testing takes a lot of the guesswork out of creating successful email marketing campaigns.

Pro Tip: Change only one element at a time. If for example, you create a 'B' version of an email with different content, subject lines and images, you're essentially testing two different things and won't get the results you're looking for.

Want to upgrade your emails and increase your ROI? Seriously, A/B test your email campaigns. How will you know what your customers prefer if you don’t try it out?

Optimizing your email marketing campaigns can make your email marketing program more effective, persuasive and ultimately, more successful. So if you’re ready to better understand your target audience and improve your results, chat to these experts.