Increasing Conversions Through Email A/B Testing

Email A/B testing is a powerful tool to optimize emails sent in your email marketing campaign and can be used to increase the number of people who purchase from your website.

This article discusses the basics of email A/B testing, how to do it, and some of the best practices for getting the most out of your email marketing operations.

What is an A/B Test?

An email A/B test is a way to compare two versions of an email and see which one performs better.

This is done by splitting your email list into two segments, or “buckets”: A and B.

Each version of the email has a slight variation from the other so that you can determine which message is more effective at converting people on your website.

It is important to not change too many item variables, or you will not be able to determine which one performs better.

Think of it as a science project.

When conducting a science project, you conduct your initial research, you form a hypothesis, and then you test that hypothesis with an experiment.

During the experiment, the idea is to vary only one item so that you can observe any change.

If you change too many variables between Email A and B, you won’t be able to identify the reason why one is performing better than the other.

How do I conduct an A/B test?

To figure out where you should start with A/B tests, it’s important to understand the four main factors that impact conversion rates: the subject line, the offer, the call-to-action, and the distribution.

Subject Line

The email subject line is important because this is the first thing that a person will read.

You can vary the text of the subject line as well as the style of the subject line.

For the text, try different words or phrases that communicate the same idea.

For the style, try a different approach altogether.

Campaign Monitor offers 12 subject line style templates to help get you thinking. They are:

Have you tried {product/service/brand/location}

• A {benefit} for {reader}

• #Tips/tricks/ideas for {common pain point}

• How much do you know about {topic/brand/product/service}?

• <Name>, we just added {product/service/tip} that you might enjoy

• Don’t wait: Get {deal} off your {product/service/order}

• <Name>’s year in review

• <Name>, Welcome to {brand}

• The newest {product/service} is here?

• We want to hear from you!

• Introducing {product/brand/service}

• {Competitor/brand/product} alternatives you’ll love

The Offer

Your description of the offer in the subject line may be effective, but what you are actually offering may be the issue.

If an offer isn’t working for a particular customer segment, try changing the offer.

You can look at offering a different discount, sending a coupon, or giving something away for free.

The Call-to-Action

Look at varying the CTA in your email.

You can try adding a link, changing the header image, or removing images.

Look at the placement, colors, shape, size, and plain text vs graphics.

Most of the email marketing services have a variety of CTAs for you to choose from and test.


Finally, you may have the right subject line, the right offer, and the right CTA, but you may be sending it to the wrong distro.

Look at the current segments on your email list and see if you need to switch to another segment.

You can also try refining your segment and identifying another subgroup.

The standard email segmentation of Gender, Profession, Location, Position, Experience, or Age may not cut it for your specific company.

Perhaps there is another segment in your email list you haven’t thought of yet that will make the email more personable, useful, and effective.

What are some of the best practices?

Some of the best practices for conducting an email marketing A/B test include:

Choose one thing that you want to improve (ex. conversion rate)

• Document your hypothesis

• Include a control group and an alternate group

• Visual your data on a chart to help make decisions

• Track your open rates and clickthrough rates

• Remain objective during the analysis


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap