A/B Testing Your HTML Email Campaign


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While some may consider HTML email campaigns useless spam, it has been a marketer’s best friend for many reasons. Some of which include:

  • Rich media and graphics
  • Immediate calls to action with clickable links
  • No costs associated with printing or postage
  • Very low cost for distribution.
  • Able to distribute at a moment’s notice
  • Can efficiently distribute to an extremely large audience all at once
  • Every element is trackable for maximum return on investment (ROI)

So how can we possibly improve on this awesome method for marketing? Lots of ways actually, but the feature of this article is to talk about A/B testing your campaign for maximum results. So, what is A/B Testing exactly? Simply put, it’s a way to test 2 different email campaign variations sent to a selected test group to see which one performs better. This allows you as a marketer to test a multitude of variations.

So how does it work?

First you create 2 unique email campaigns. You decide what areas of variance you are looking to compare and create your campaigns accordingly. This variance can include, different content, different calls to actions, different subject lines, different ‘from’ addresses, different button graphics or even completely different email designs and layouts.

Determine the test group

You can specify how big of a test group the 2 campaigns will go to based on a percentage of your total target list. You then determine what the criterion is to win. This could include the version with the highest open rate, the version with the most unique clicks or the version with the most unique clicks on a specific link.

Set the time frame for the test

Once all of this is defined, you then set the timeframe to run the test. It can be as little as an hour or as long as several days or weeks. The test campaigns will randomly be selected from your target list, distributed and then tracked for activity until the test is over. During this time, you can track the activity and see which one is winning!

And the winner is?

Unless you intervene, the system will determine the winner based on your qualifying factors and automatically distribute the remainder of your list using the winning campaign as soon as the test is complete.

Getting started

You’re current email campaign system probably already has the ability to do A/B testing for you. Explore the options available to you within your current system and see how they handle A/B testing options and pricing. The screenshots above are from Campaign Monitor.

Whether you’re coming from a marketing agency’s standpoint, the business owner’s standpoint, or the email recipient’s standpoint, having an A/B tested email campaign makes more sense for everyone involved by using a more strategic approach with better results and a greater, (trackable) return on investment.

Got some great email campaign tips you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below and let us know what’s worked for you.


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