How To A/B Test Cold Emails

Email marketing can open doors for your business and reach customers that would otherwise be unaware of your products. But, not every email is created equal! That’s where A/B testing comes into play. Learn about how A/B testing can help you optimize your efforts and elevate your email campaigns. 

 What is A/B Testing? 

In simple terms, A/B testing is the process of sending two variations of the same email to a specific audience to determine which variation is more likely to get a response from your readers. 

Testing Different Variables 

The first step to a successful A/B test is choosing which variable needs to change. Emails are full of separate elements that come together. Some of these elements hold influence when it comes to readers interacting with the email as a whole. Below the three most-tested variables. 

Variable 1: Subject Lines

Your subject line is the #1 factor determining if a reader will open an email.  Running an A/B test of different subject lines can help determine what your audience responds to. Do emojis draw them in or send them away? Should you be humorous or serious? What about leaving them in suspense versus getting to the point? All of these style choices should be taken into consideration. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind while constructing subject lines. 

  • Be clear and actionable! 

You never want to trick customers about the offer presented in a subject line. Be direct about what you’re offering. For example, if you’re holding a sale on a specific product, make sure to only include that product in the offer. Don’t create an overarching subject line that can get muddled. 

  • Personalization is a plus.  

No, personalization doesn’t only mean adding the recipient’s name in the subject line. Instead, it’s a process of customization and focusing on specific factors that will stand out to each recipient as an individual. A great example is birthday promotions! They will be more inclined to open the email in order to redeem their birthday offer. 

  • Keep it short and sweet. 

Subject lines should stay between 30-40 total characters. Staying in this range prevents cut-off for mobile users and helps keep your message straightforward. Emojis are a great way to convey a message without using excessive characters, consider giving them a try! 

Variable 2: Visuals 

Photos and gifs not only leave customers on your email longer but also help them understand the email’s goal. But, visuals can be hit or miss. Suppose you don’t commonly use visuals, test whether subscribers engage with an email with visuals. For those who use visuals regularly, change it up! Does a graph work better than a still image? Does changing the placement of the visuals make an impact? Test it. 

Visuals can become a double-edged sword if you’re not careful. The best way to stay out of the spam folder is to adopt a 20% to 80% image-to-text ratio. Spam filters can be triggered if images make up over 50% of an email, we don’t want that! A good rule of thumb is to limit newsletters to three images per page. Always check back and test the ratio in your emails before sending them out. 

Variable 3: Call To Action 

At the end of the day, you want subscribers to take an action from your email. Many times CTAs are presented as buttons that will directly move subscribers from one place to another. The variable you test can be as small as changing the button color or as big as rewriting the copy itself. 

Never test more than one variable at a time! Attempting to test two variables simultaneously can make your results muddled and leave you without a clear understanding of how to optimize your efforts. Remember, you can always run more A/B tests in the future. We usually run A/B tests on a new campaign in this order:

  1. Subject Lines
  2. Copy Length
  3. CTA
  4. Images
  5. Copy Tone/Voice

I Ran An A/B Test. Now What? 

A successful A/B test will present itself in the data. After concluding an A/B test, take time to analyze factors such as open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. Depending on your goal for the campaign, these three stats should show which variation has a higher success rate. Make sure to keep a collection of this data to compare against future A/B tests! 

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to A/B testing and optimizing your email campaigns. Reach out to us if you have any questions, we are always happy to help!