Want to know which email campaigns catch your readersâ€™ eyes? Try this easy solution: A/B testing.
A/B testing compares two versions of the same thing (subject headlines, email design layouts, CTA buttons, etc.) until you narrow down results for comparison. Not surprisingly, the data that results from the A/B testing is powerful, from open rates to click-through rates to conversions, and reveals howÂ your audience responds to changing variables.
Today, weâ€™ll be using the BEE editor from our BEE Pro account to walk you throughÂ how to conduct A/B testing on email design. This way,Â you can understand your audienceâ€™s reaction to changes in calls-to-action, layout, and background color. Hereâ€™s a quick video overview of our workshop:
Did you watch the video? Good! Below are a few more tips and best practices for A/B testing with 3 tutorials on how to set up testing different factors.
How to decide what to test
Before designing your A/B campaign, determine what you want to test. To start, choose just one variable so your results are clear. Here are some examples of commonly tested variables:
- CTA size and style. Full-width button or smaller? Green or red? Tall or short?
- Layout. Single column or multiple?
- Color scheme. White or grayÂ background? Blue or green header text?
- Image size or variety. Two product images or four? Still image orÂ animated GIF?
- Information amount. Include secondary content or not? Social media buttonsÂ or not? Nav menu or not?
- Information placement. Social buttons at the top or bottom? CTA button mid-way through or at the end?
Content and Time
- From line. Your business name or the name of an individual?
- Subject line. Shorter or longer? Emoji or no emoji? Include â€ś[webinar invitation]â€ť language or not?
- CTA language. â€śClaim your ebook nowâ€ť or â€śClaim your free ebookâ€ť?
- Body text. â€śPushyâ€ť language or more subtle? Six sentences or three?
- Send time. Will there be more opens at 8:00 AM or at 4:00 PM?
Best practices for A/B testing
As you prepare your campaign, do your research and be sure to follow some best practices, including:
- Determine your success metric first.Â Open rates will make sense if youâ€™re testing subject lines; click-through or conversion rates for design changes. Know what youâ€™re evaluating in advance.
- Test only one thing at a time.Â If you change more than one variable, you wonâ€™t be able to tell what caused the change in response.
- Test a big sample size. Understand how many responses you need to show statistical significance.
- Send A and B versions at the same time. Time is a variable, so be consistent by having both campaigns be sent at the same time (to different groups)â€”unless send time IS your variable.
Todayâ€™s Workshop: How to A/B test email design changes
Letâ€™s walk through how to A/B testing related to design by using this email example fromÂ Verywell, a site that provides health advice and resources.
A/B Design TestÂ 1: CTA button
Verywellâ€™sÂ current version of the email has no call-to-action button. What if we added one in the first module to see how it changed the click-through rate?
For the â€śAâ€ť version: First, byÂ usingÂ BEE Pro,Â letâ€™s recreate the Verywell email as-is.Â Using the drag-and-drop functionality, theÂ basic email outline from the Structure menu can be pulled, followed by the appropriate content blocks and content. Hereâ€™s the first half of the email in BEE Pro, our â€śAâ€ť part of the test:
For theÂ â€śBâ€ť version,Â simply drag a CTA from the Content menu and format it.Â We chose a button that matches the header color, is nearly the width of the email, and uses some urgency in the text, â€śCheck out the recipe now.â€ť So will this CTA increase clicks? Well, weâ€™ll just need to send our A/B test emails to find out!
Just a note: InÂ BEE Pro, itâ€™s easy to saveÂ your email and edit it later. Look for the blue â€śSave Messageâ€ť button in the upper right corner. This way, you can create one versionâ€”like your â€śAâ€ť versionâ€”and save it to edit later.
But theÂ important thing to know about A/B testing is: you can also copy an entire emailÂ in BEE to make modifications to your â€śBâ€ť version and save it. Look for the â€śCreate a copyâ€ť command in the â€śEdit Messageâ€ť drop-down menu. Creating a copy means youÂ wonâ€™t have to start from scratch to create a second version.
A/B Design TestÂ 2:Â Layout
Without multiple columns, but how would Verywellâ€™s email perform if a version included the first module as a single column?
Instead of arranging the header text and image side-by-side, letâ€™s update the layoutÂ so the image appears abovethe text.
Using BEE Proâ€™s drag-and-drop functionality, changing the layout is super simple. Starting with the â€śAâ€ť version,Â weâ€™ll drag in a single-column structure as a destination for our content:
Then, grab the existing header text, and drag it down:
Thatâ€™s it! The text re-flows and image resizes, so our email is automatically formatted nicely. Now, we can delete the empty two-column structure, and the new email is ready to go:
A/B Design Test 3: Background color
Even thoughÂ Verywellâ€™s email has a nice, clean look with an all-white background, how would readers react if the first module has a bight background color that matches the brandâ€™s teal color?
To change the background color, letâ€™sÂ select the top row, then navigate to the Structure menu and update Content background.Â
After that, letâ€™s update the text from black to white to make it readable, and our new module is ready to be tested:
Wrap up: A/B test design changes
Itâ€™s easy to create different versions of an email and test which one performs best. Just remember to stick to one variable at a time in order to understand what your subscribers are reacting to at specific moments. Feel free to try our tips out and sign-up for a BEE Pro account (which is only $10/month after your 15 day free trial!), and let us know how it goes!