10 Ways to Split Test Your Emails to Boost Engagement

You’ve been sending out regular email newsletters to your list, but for some reason, you aren’t seeing the engagement you hoped for. What’s going wrong? And what can you do to turn things around?

Well, the answer to your problems is to split test your emails so you can tweak different variables to improve performance. Doing this will help you see what resonates best with your email subscribers so you can send out the optimal content to a majority of your list. Before you know it, your engagement rate will be skyrocketing.

In this blog post, you’ll learn what it means to split test your emails, why it’s so important, and all the variables you can test to create the most captivating emails possible. It’s safe to say you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master at email marketing once you implement this tactic.

What it Means to Split Test Your Emails and Why it’s Important

When you put so much time and effort into your content, you want it to be successful, right?

Well, that’s where A/B split testing comes into play. When you split test something like your emails, you are changing a specific variable of said email to see which one performs the best with your subscribers. Then, the highest performing email will be sent to a majority of your list to generate the best results in terms of open rates, engagement, click-throughs, and conversions.

It may seem like a lot of extra work, but in most cases, you’re changing rather small variables so it doesn’t always require much more time or effort on your end. However, it’ll be worthwhile when you discover the benefits it provides. Here are a few examples:

  • You’ll Learn What Resonates With Your Audience: As you split test your emails, you’ll likely notice patterns when it comes to what your audience likes and doesn’t like. This will help you to create better content for them moving forward, which is crucial for driving results. 
  • Your Campaigns Will be More Effective: Your email marketing campaigns will begin to generate more ROI because you’ll see your emails getting opened by more subscribers, more clicks on your links, more replies, and more conversions.
  • Your Decisions Will be Based on Data: Instead of having to guess what your audience wants to see from you, running A/B tests will help you gain insights into their preferences based on actual data. 

10 Ways to Split Test Your Emails to Boost Engagement

Now that you understand what it means to split test your emails and why it’s an important step if you want to increase engagement among your email subscribers, you need to learn how it’s done. To break it down for you, there are 10 tips you need to know, which are all outlined below. Let’s dive in!

1. First, Decide Which Variable You’ll be Testing 

In the tips that follow, you’ll learn all about the different variables you can tweak when you split test your emails. However, that doesn’t mean you want to go crazy by testing every single thing. If you do this, it will be difficult to pinpoint the variable that’s driving your desired results. For that reason, you want to narrow it down to just one variable you’ll test between the two versions of your email.

Once you know which variable to focus on, you can begin to create two separate emails. Many email newsletter providers have the option to run an A/B split test, which makes this step fairly simple. Once the testing is complete, you’ll want to review your metrics to see which variable performed the best so you can keep that in mind when creating future emails. All of this data will help you to better understand your subscribers, as you’ll gain a clearer picture of what resonates with them.

2. Subject Line 

The subject line is arguably the most important aspect of every email newsletter you send. It’s the first thing your subscribers will see and it will ultimately make or break whether they open your email. will decide whether or not to open an email based merely on its subject line. For that reason, it’s one of the most common things to test when you split test your emails if you want to increase your open rate. But how does this work?

First, you’ll write an email with two different subject lines. Your email newsletter provider will typically send one subject line to 15% of your subscribers and the other subject line will go to a separate 15%. This makes up 30% of your total email list. After about a four-hour testing period (although some providers allow you to change the length of time the test runs), the email with the winning subject line will be sent to the remaining 70% of your subscribers (those who weren’t included in the testing phase).

This ensures the best subject line is getting presented to a majority of your list, therefore getting more people to open your email and consume the content contained within. Whenever you do this, note any similarities between your winning subject lines so you can better grasp what resonates with your subscribers. This will make it easy to write stronger subject lines in the future.

Some things to test in your subject line include adding numbers, using emojis, capitalization, length, urgency, and personalization. Every audience is different, so testing helps you see what works.

3. Sender Name 

Are your email newsletters being sent from the company name or a real person’s name? You might not have put much weight on this before, but it’s worth it to split test your emails to see which sender name generates the highest open rates. It could be making a big difference!

For instance, if you’ve been using your company name, you can test it against the name of a person on your marketing team or the CEO/founder. Another test that could be run is the first name only versus a full name. Many subscribers may feel it’s more personal to use a person’s name, as it helps them to form a connection with the actual person behind the scenes on your team.

Once you test this out and have a clear winner, stick with it. Consistency is important because you want your subscribers to easily recognize your emails in their inbox. So, you never want to send newsletters from a ton of different names, as it’ll only get confusing.

4. Email Copy

If you’re feeling ambitious, you could go the extra mile and write two completely different emails to see which one produces the most engagement in terms of link clicks and conversions. And there are various ways to go about this. For one, you could write a longer email and a shorter version to see which one gets the most traction with your audience. Not everyone wants to read a novel-length email.

Alternatively, you could also test different marketing techniques within your copy. Some people respond well to urgency in a sales email, while others are driven to take action because they have a fear of missing out on something. You can experiment with different techniques to determine the drivers that motivate your subscribers the most.

5. Call to Action (CTA)

For sales emails, the call to action is one of the most important elements because it tells people what that next step is after they’ve finished reading the email itself. Plus, having just one call to action in your email can increase clicks by a whopping 371%. However, the key is to get the call to action just right!

You can split test your emails with different calls to action by tweaking the copy, placement, and the button itself. For example, you can change the size and color of the button, as well as the copy it contains. This one thing could play a major role in driving more clicks to your website.

6. Layout and Design of the Email

Nailing down the overall look and feel of your email marketing campaigns is crucial. Not only do you want something that looks great and fits your branding, but it also needs to function on both desktop and mobile. After all, you’ll have subscribers opening and reading your emails on all sorts of devices.

If you’re feeling compelled to switch it up and try a new email template, split test your emails by using two different designs. This is perfect if you’re torn between two different looks because your subscribers can offer feedback. To assess which one is preferred, you can look at engagement rates or invite your subscribers to reply to your email with their thoughts on the design. Then, see which one received the most positive feedback. Just be sure to also test out both designs for yourself on multiple devices.

7. Images

Building off that last tip, another element of your email design that you can test is the imagery. Images are a great way to add visual interest to your content and they can also help break up your text so it’s less overwhelming for your subscriber to read. However, you can test a version of your email that has a few images versus a version that has zero to see what your audience responds to.

Alternatively, you can test different types of images. For example, use a stock photo that features people against one that’s a picture of a product. Test a GIF versus a static image, color images versus black and white, or even a professional image versus a goofy one. It may seem like this wouldn’t make much of a difference, but it really can play a role in driving more engagement. That’s why it’s worthwhile to try different imagery when you split test your emails.

8. Personalization

Another way to split test your emails is to test personalization versus no personalization. For example, you can add or remove a subscriber’s name from the subject line and the body copy of the email. Then, you can see if your audience responds better to one over the other. Some people love that personal touch, whereas others might not find it to be so important.

9. Day and Time

Don’t forget that timing matters when it comes to when you send emails! If you scour the web, you’ll find tons of conflicting advice telling you the optimal days and times to send a newsletter. However, the best thing you can do is test it out for yourself. See what generates the most engagement for you based on your audience’s behavior.

10. Target Audience

Hate to break it to you, but if your emails aren’t getting the engagement you hoped for, it could be that you’re sending content to the wrong audience. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to fix this. First, it would be smart to clean up your email list by deleting “cold” subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in a long time. You can do this after an attempt to re-engage them and if they still don’t take action, feel free to cut them loose so you aren’t spending money on people who aren’t interested.

From there, segment your email list based on interests. This way, you’ll be sending the right content to the right audience every time. To do this, send similar emails to different segments of your list and see which group engages more with the emails. Then, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how to target segments of your list with each campaign.

Begin to Split Test Your Emails Today

If you’re ready to become a master at email marketing, it’s time to split test your emails. Going the extra mile to tweak and test different variables within your email campaigns will provide you with tremendous data and insights into what truly resonates with your audience. This will ensure you’re creating optimal content that encourages engagement and sparks action every single time.

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