9 Email A/B Test Ideas to Increase Your Conversions
A/B testing is a great way to find out what converts. You choose one variable to focus on, and send two different versions to discover what increases email opens, clicks, sales, and more. You never know what could lead to off-the-charts conversions.
In this post, you’ll learn nine different A/B tests you can run in your email marketing – including your subject line, imagery, body text, and more.
What are you going to test this week? Let’s find out…
1. The obvious…your subject line
Writing a killer subject line deserves special attention. If your subscribers never open the email to begin with, the blood, sweat, and tears you put into creating the content inside goes to waste. There are simple guidelines to writing subject lines, things like…
- Keep the subject line between 6-10 words, which generate the highest open rates
- Use a tone that appeals to your audience. Is your brand known for being funny, blunt, academic, something else
- Sell what’s inside without being misleading. The New Yorker wrote an insightful post about headlines change the way we approach articles (the same concept applies to subject lines).
But the best way to find out what works is through testing. Invision and Thrillist both take a different approach to their digest subject lines:
Thrillist’s digest includes other articles like The Best Restaurants in Chicago Right Now and 6 Quinoa Recipes You’ll Actually Want to Eat, but the company only highlights one in the subject line.
What subject line works best for your audience to increase your open rates? Test. Here’s 500 short subject lines you can use in your next campaign.
2. The From name, also called Sender name
The From name is who the email is from. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s a factor in a person’s gut decision to open an email or not. Even if it’s subsconcious.
The reader is asking: Do I know this person? Do I trust the company? Who is this?
It’s worth testing.
Here’s some ideas to test against each other…
- Company name (Dunder Mifflin)
- Employee’s name (Dwight Schrute)
- Employee name + company name (Dwight at Dunder Mifflin)
- Something completely different (Your friends at Dunder Mifflin)
3. Text versus HTML emails
What generates a better clickthrough rate: A personal text-based email or a nicely designed HTML email with a large call-to-action button?
Again, let’s test.
We recently hosted a customer workshop on hacking the customer journey with our friends at Instapage. To promote the event, we A/B tested these two email invitations…
The email on the right may be prettier to look at, but the email on the left written like a personal letter earned a 174% higher clickthrough rate and more event attendees.
You could run this experiment for your sales emails, event invitations, and even newsletters. Give it a try and let us know your results.
4. Send time
When’s the best time to send your email? Tuesdays at 8am Eastern? Thursdays at 9pm Pacific?
I don’t know, and the latest marketing study doesn’t either. But you can run tests to figure out the best send times for your specific audience. Here are factors to pit against each other:
- Day of the week (all seven days are fair game)
- Time of day (your highest conversion rate could come first thing in the morning or at midnight)
- Time zone (what days/times work best for your global audience?)
Pay attention to open rates, clickthrough rates, and overall engagement. You can run this A/B test in Autopilot using the A/B Splitter with a Timed Delay, and limit your automated sends to certain delivery windows when you discover what works.
5. Call-to-action button text
Button copy is a word or two of text at a key point in the customer journey – the moment right before a user converts. It could lead to your next clickthrough, signup, sale…or not.
WhichTestWon ran an experiment (not in an email specifically, but the A/B testing principle still applies) to find out which button text captured more signups:
Version A has an overlay with opt-out text that says, ‘No. I’m already an optimization master.’ Version B has the same overlay, but with opt-out text that says, ‘No. Continue to site.’
Which test won? Find out for yourself.
6. A sense of urgency
People are inherently procrastinators…spice up their day by throwing some urgency into the mix. It’ll move your email subscribers to act immediately or within the deadline you’ve set.
You can do this a few different ways. Like with a countdown timer in your email to drive sales…
Or with urgent copy like Last chance or Only this holiday or This sale ends tomorrow, like iStockPhoto in this example…
Run your A/B test between a non-urgent and an urgent email. See what drives more action for the variable you’re testing (clickthroughs, sales, etc).
7. Re-sending the email to people that didn’t open
This is a hack that doubles your open rates without making a dent in your unsubscribes. We use it for our email newsletters, but it could also work for other types of email sends.
You re-send a copy of your email 48 hours later to subscribers who didn’t open the first time around, with a small change to the subject line (e.g. “Reminder:<original subject line>”). It works like magic for us everytime.
Give it a shot with your next email newsletter and see how it affects your opens, unsubscribes, and clickthrough rates.
8. Different images
Imagery can affect your conversions. So try testing different variations to see what earns a better clickthrough rate.
Let’s walk through an example to illustrate. Say you’re an apartment complex sending an email to prospective renters persuading them to come in for a walkthrough. You can run an A/B test that uses a picture of a living room or master bedroom, like so…
Each image paints a different a picture in the reader’s imagination, and can influence their decision to schedule a walkthrough.
By the way, which do you think would win? The living room came out ahead by a hefty 37.4% in the real-life A/B test of both showrooms.
9. Test the language in your email
You’ve tested your subject line, found the highest converting button copy, now test the rest of your email text. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- The hard sell versus the soft sell
- Personal tone versus business tone
- Long form versus short form
These language tweaks can make the difference between hockey stick growth and meh conversions.
Now it’s your turn. What email A/B tests would you add to this list to increase opens, clickthroughs, and sales? Let us know in the comments.