After pouring time into designing your email, writing a compelling subject line, and determining the right time to send it, you want your email campaign to succeed. You want to see open and click rates well above industry average and conversions flowing in.

In order to maximize the results of your email campaigns, it’s important to ensure you’re using the best possible version of an email. That’s where A/B testing comes in. You’ll create two different versions of an email by varying one particular detail — like the subject line — and run a test to find out which is more effective.

What to Test

Email can seem really simplistic, but there are actually a lot of elements that go into designing the perfect email. Each of these elements can affect your email’s performance, so it’s important to test several of them. Here are a few that you should definitely play with:

How to Test

If you’re using an email campaign tool like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, it’ll do most of the work for you — randomly segmenting your subscribers into two lists and comparing the results from each version of the email.

Otherwise, you’ll need to create two lists by hand and manually analyze the resulting metrics. If you’re doing this, make sure your lists are randomly selected to ensure the most accurate and representative results. Exporting your reports to Excel can make it easier to analyze the data, too.

Best Practices

A/B testing doesn’t have to be complicated, but there are some simple guidelines you should follow to ensure the tests run smoothly and the data is actually reliable.

Defining Success

When it comes to A/B testing and email campaigns, there’s no definitive answer to what makes a test successful. That’s why it’s important to define what your goals are — so you can assess whether or not the test is successful.

The first step is to determine which metrics you want to improve. Usually you’ll be choosing to focus on open rate, click rate, or conversions. Once you know which one, take a look back at historical reports and take note of the average metrics. What does your current open rate typically look like?

Once you know where you’re starting from, decide where you want to be. If click rates are typically around three percent, you might aim to raise it to five percent. If your numbers are regularly below industry average, a good goal is to bring them up to the average.

Now that you have a clear definition of what your focus and goals look like, you’re in a better position to determine whether your tests are successful or not.

Test and Test Again

Now that you have the process down, it’s time to start testing away. While A/B testing does take a little extra time and effort, the boosted performance of such an efficient marketing channel is more than worth the investment.

Have you found any elements that make a huge difference in your results?

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Keep your eye out for the rest of our Perfect Emails series: