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How to Use A/B Testing in Your Email Marketing Efforts

A/B Testing Email MarketingNo email marketing campaign is perfect. No matter how strong your results may be, there's always a case for uncovering small improvements that can push your conversion rates even higher.

The trick is identifying those opportunities without disrupting the strategy that's brought you success to this point. A/B testing is the logical step for finding new efficiencies and ways to elevate your results. Here are four considerations to make sure this testing delivers quality, actionable results.

Pick the Element You Want to Test

Most marketers realize that A/B testing only works when you change one element and keep everything else the same. But it's not just subject lines, calls-to-action and email copy that can be tested: Delivery time, newsletter design and layout, images and other rich-media content can all be tested to see if they influence performance.

Don't limit yourself when deciding what you can and can't effectively test. If it's part of your email campaign, then there's a way to put it through an A/B test to determine how it might be helping or harming your campaign results.

Use Segmentation to Get Better Results

If you aren't already using audience segmentation in your email campaigns, it's time to start. It's not just useful for A/B testing: research from MailChimp shows that segmented campaigns drive far better results than nonsegmented strategies. With segmented campaigns, email open rates increase by more than 14 percent, while unique opens grow by more than 10 percent. Clicks more than double, while bounce rate, abuse reports and unsubscribe rates all decrease.

Segmentation will narrow the scope of your A/B test, which ultimately provides more precise and relevant insights.

Get a Good Sample Size for Your Test

A/B testing only works when you're examining a large enough segment of your list that you can get statistically significant results. Tests of too small an audience could offer too much variance to be relied upon when making changes to your strategy.

Marketers will also want to run the campaign long enough that the entire life cycle of the tested email can be measured and analyzed. Some recipients open their emails right away, while other activity comes hours later, possibly even into the next day. Make sure you're accounting for these delayed results when compiling your stats.

Let the Test Run to Its Completion

With most A/B tests for email campaigns, there's an option for administrators to manually turn off the test. In cases where the real-time data shows a clear favorite between two tested versions, this may be tempting: Why not save your time and resources and pick the obvious winner? But as Harvard Business Review points out, doing so can also rob you of valuable data: your sample size gets smaller, which makes the margin of error larger.

Even in cases where it's clear one version is testing better than its counterpart, the data collected from the A/B test can be used by analytics solutions to drive insights that improve other aspects of your strategy.

Testing is the best way to push your email marketing ROI to the next level. Embrace A/B tests as a tool to unlock secrets about your campaign performance.

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