Split testing or A/B testing is the process of comparing the effectiveness of two web pages, banner ads or other components of a campaign or website to determine which one has a better conversion or response rate. It is one of the keys to success in online marketing. Many aspects of a marketing campaign can be tested, but if you are using emails in your marketing mix, don’t forget to test them as well, it can make a huge difference and is actually pretty easy, a basic outline is below.
1. Decide what your goal is. Begin with the end in mind. What are you trying to accomplish and improve? If you want to drive sales or get opt-ins, then you know what to focus on with your email and have a starting point for testing.
2. Pick one variable to test. You can test anything, but only one thing at a time and it should be something that will impact your ultimate goal with the email campaign. Also, keep in mind that you should start with one email and make one change, you don’t want to start with two entirely different messages because you won’t know what is working and what’s not. Typical components tested in email marketing include subject lines, calls to action and body (text or graphical). Make a change to one of these parts to get your test email so that you have two messages to send.
3. Divide your list into two sections of equal or similar size and demographics. One section will get the control message or the original and the other will get the message with one change. Send the messages.
4. Compare the results and make improvements for the next test. If one email performed better than the other, that is your winner. Use the winner as your control for the next split test, rinse and repeat.
It’s that simple. Some email service providers have built in processes to help you split test. They will allow you to segment your list randomly and deliver your test messages as well as provide reporting to help you measure results. They make it really simple and I highly encourage using their tools. The benefits of better performance make the testing worth doing, but it also can impact your overall feel for what will work in the future and can help improve your overall marketing performance. For more information or in-depth discussions on email marketing, check out our private forum at IMGrind.