Read it or bin it? How A/B testing can make promotional e-mails more effective

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In an ideal world, you’d sent an e-mail to your customers, then they’d open it, click through to your eCommerce web site and it would result in another sale. But in reality, some if your e-mails are being ignored or deleted. This is a fact of life when it comes to marketing; you can’t please all the people all the time. However, you can discover what pleases the majority with a little market research. So rather than hope for the best, why not test a couple of routes and approaches first? This is where A/B testing comes in.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is a way of working out which of two different e-mail options is likely to be the most effective. As the name suggests, you create two versions and label them A and B.

Carefully choose two select groups from your e-mail database and send one version A and the other version B. How many openings and click-throughs they encourage are then measured and the one that produces the best results is the winner. You can then send that to the rest of your subscribers with added confidence in its effectiveness.

What can you use A/B testing to actually test?

With e-mail campaigns, there is a very fine line between success and failure. Often it can be down to poor wording or even choosing the wrong colour somewhere – it’s that precarious. But A/B testing offers a means of deciding which works best for you and your customers. Here are a few suggestions on what to test:

  • Try two alternative subject lines to see which one results in the most openings or clicks. This is often the first thing they see so it’s important to get it right.
  • Produce two different designs or layouts to see which one goes down the best. Ensure that your main message is the most prominent, but maybe try other options too.
  • Offer them something – maybe a ‘Free Shipping’ or a ‘20% discount’ promotion and see which grabs them. Include it in the subject line too – everybody likes to save money.
  • People often check to see who the e-mail is from – so test two different ‘From’ names and see if it affects the amount of time it is opened. Is your name trusted by your subscribers? This is how to find out.

Those are just a few suggestions, but you’re free to choose the testing criteria yourself. Think like a customer and work out how they will view your e-mail as it arrives in their inbox. Try to second guess any objections and obstacles to opening it and head them off at the pass. You can also compare different design, content and copy approaches too.

Our expert eCommerce team at iWeb can offer further advice on A/B testing, as well as all aspects of promoting your product or service in the online marketplace. So why not a) give us a call or b) send us an e-mail? Whichever works best for you.

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