A/B testing is a great way to determine how your strategies stack up, pitting an existing concept against a new variation. Instead of jumping into something brand new with no idea if it will work, a simple A/B test allows you to be objective about performance in order to choose the perfect approach for your needs.
What Is A/B Testing?
A/B testing, also called split testing, is essentially a way to compare two versions of a single marketing concept using verifiable metrics. Email marketing is a big part of a successful campaign so for most small businesses, it's a good place to start.
It's easy to think something is a great idea, but another to actually see it in writing. A/B testing uses statistical analysis to reach a conclusion, providing you with concrete results. In general, A/B testing doesn't compare everything, but instead focuses on one single element. For example, if you're seeking higher conversion rates, you may consider testing a new call to action (CTA) or subject line to start.
How to Start A/B Testing
Running an A/B test can be a great way to make actionable improvements. But getting started requires a plan. In order to achieve the best possible results, here are five steps to follow:
- Determine what elements would be most likely to boost numbers. This may not be easy, but now is the time to take a step back and explore what may be falling flat. Is your CTA vague? Are your headlines dry or bland? Do you personalize your emails?
- Decide what you want to track. Do you want to see an increase in click-through rates? Do you want customers to make purchases based on your emails? Do you want more people to request pricing? Whatever factor you choose will be the driver for your testing.
- Set goals. What kind of increase do you want to see? A 10% boost in conversions? 20%? More? After you determine your goal, work towards achieving it in your new variation.
- Choose a test group. Will you be sampling your whole email list? Or will you be limiting your sampling to a smaller set? There are pros and cons to each strategy. For example, if your changes will be routine and you don't pay per email, using your whole list may be fine. If you're trying something unusual or using an example that doesn't apply to everyone, you may want to be more selective. Split your sample group randomly to ensure the best, most unbiased outcome.
- Select a platform. In order to create a campaign that generates measurable results, assistance from an email service provider that does A/B testing can be a benefit. There are many of these, such as MailChimp, iContact, or Campaigner. Do some research, compare price points and determine what features you want to see.
Once you set up your campaign and start your test, the final step is to utilize results to improve your emails. With an A/B test, you can clearly set the parameters you have in mind and wait for the results to pour in. How you choose to interpret your research though will vary based on the goals you set.
If your results are tied or within a margin of error, your new email likely isn't any better than your old one. If you're seeing a decline, you may want to keep your original template or even test something else to seek improvements elsewhere. Ultimately, how you draw conclusions and update your marketing will truly depend on the goals you have in mind and what you're hoping to achieve.
Email marketing is a big part of a successful digital strategy. With help from A/B testing, you can make the improvements necessary to see the growth and developments critical to meeting your objectives.