5 Essential A/B Tests for Email Marketing

A/B Testing

The data to be gleaned from email marketing is powerful and practically endless. Your email channel is your direct window into your actual audience of real customers—what do they respond to, what inspires them, what bores them? What do they WANT? (And...do they like emojis?) But where do you start? Whether you’re just dipping your toes in the testing waters, or have been swimming in the deep end for awhile, here are five A/B tests that you should incorporate into your email strategy ASAP. And remember: Keep. On. Testing!

1. Subject Line

Testing a subject line is one of the easiest ways to improve your open rate and determine what grabs your audience’s attention. There are a variety of ways to test this: do your subscribers respond to short, grabby subject lines or longer, information-rich subject lines? What topics get the most attention? Do your customers respond more to promotions? Does personalization in a subject line make an impact? These are all questions that can be answered by A/B testing those subject lines over and over. (Just be sure you’re testing a true variable, and not just two subtly different ways to say something.)

2. Send Day/Time

When scouring the internet for email marketing tips, you’ll find articles aplenty that tell you the best day and time to send an email newsletter. Ignore them! Yes, there are general trends around when people are checking their email. But the more valuable information is when your subscribers are checking their email, and it varies based on business type, industry, customer demographics, content, and so on. The truth is, the best time to send an email is when your customers are most likely to read it. It might be in the evening, or first thing in the morning. It might be on the weekend. And the way to determine that is to A/B test it!

3. Content

What is email marketing if not content? Testing your content is vital to determining what your subscribers and customers find most engaging. There are many angles to test here, we recommend you start with these:

  • Length: Do your customers engage with shorter or longer content? Are they interested in multiple, short content stories or a deep-dive into a single topic?

  • Voice: Your brand voice is something you’ve spent countless hours getting just right, and you don’t want to compromise it, of course. But email is where you can play with voice a bit and see how it lands. Do your customers respond to the funny, light-hearted side of your brand? Or do they want serious, straightforward email content?

  • Personalization: Do your readers engage more with content that is personalized for them? “Merge tags” or dynamic fields offer an array of ways to customize your content for each individual, beyond just adding their name in an intro. For example, you can include product recommendations based on a customer’s purchase history. You can call out a customer’s birthday, or reference a previous purchase. Don’t assume that this powerful tool will creep out your customers! Personalization is a great way to let your customers know that you care about delivering content that matters to them.

4. Design/Color

When it comes to email marketing, design is just as crucial as content. In general, we know that people respond to emails that are clean, concise, and easy to navigate. But we highly recommend testing your color palettes and layout to determine what your customers engage with. Are they enticed by a bold color palette? Or do they click more when emails are light and bright? Is bold typography engaging or overwhelming? Which images perform best, at what size?

5. Call to Action

Say it with me now: Every email needs a call to action! This is true regardless of your business, industry, or email marketing goals. Why should someone open your email, and what should they do after they open it? If you can’t answer these questions, go back to the drawing board. When you’ve determined your CTA, the next question is how to best communicate it. Test the color of your CTA buttons, word choice, and placement in the email to determine what encourages your audience to take action.


Need help getting your email A/B testing plan off the ground? Looking for guidance with how to leverage the data you do have? That’s what we do best!