Improving Email Marketing with A/B Testing: Best Practices for Quality-Driven Success

Email marketers strive to find ways to drive better business results and implement innovative ideas into practice. Here is where A/B testing is of vital importance. It is a remarkable method to boost marketing campaigns, and specialists should resort to it to produce impressive outcomes. Let’s explore the peculiarities of A/B testing in email marketing.


A/B testing in a nutshell

Split testing is another name for the entire procedure. It is a strong and revolutionary way to maximize the outcomes of any task. With mailing, it means carrying out experiments by sending different versions of an email to various groups of people, to see how making a change affects the overall outcome.

For example, when you create different versions of your cold email copy for a new outreach campaign, you can measure the results by analyzing different key metrics – and decide which version of the campaign will give you the best results.

The concept is widespread across branches, and the process is mainly carried out in areas related to information technology. Thus, software testing companies are perfectly aware of its advantages.

To illustrate this idea in a unique way, let’s imagine you own a café called Paris At Night, and you’ve been facing stagnant revenue. You want to boost sales and thus dare to alter your menu. Get a new one that features five appetizing photos of the finest and costliest dishes, while keeping all other parts the same. You’ll be working with two different user groups, one that gets the new menu and the other that gets the old one.

When you look at the results in a couple of days, you will find that the group with the new menu with the alluring pictures has offered you a remarkable 15% surge in the average table ticket. This clear winner indicates that the modifications you have introduced have given impressive outcomes. You can introduce the change across your entire café, thanks to A/B testing.

tested people

Why does it matter?

The true essence of A/B testing in digital marketing lies in the knowledge it provides. By evaluating various metrics and comparing the outcomes, you understand what changes produce significant results. This level of granularity helps you make reasonable decisions and carry out email campaigns in a targeted manner.

Beware: if you implement numerous changes in many emails without conducting marketing A/B testing, it becomes challenging to isolate which modifications are leading to the improvements or deterioration. It turns to be a guessing game, and you fail to realize what’s truly working and what’s not.

However, if you introduce a slight change and look at your control group, you will accurately attribute any shift in performance to that specific modification. This level of precision helps you to confidently detect which changes are causing positive results.


Advantages of A/B testing for marketing

Let’s summarize how companies can use it for their good.

  • Superior choices

You get relevant performance metrics and make reasonable decisions. Real data can be used to measure and analyze the most important parts of your emails (for instance, call to action, subject lines, etc.) instead of making assumptions. Following this strategy will result in more effective marketing. The campaign will benefit from the good results you will have.

  • Enhanced engagement

A/B testing in digital marketing boosts engagement by identifying working approaches for key components. Tailoring your content results will resonate with your clients.

  • Impeccable personalization

The procedure enables personalized optimization by introducing variations in subject lines, body copy, and dynamic content. This produces more relevant and resonant mailing, resulting in enhanced performance.

  • Cost-effective optimization

This powerful approach ensures cost efficiency. By checking minor alterations, you can detect winning approaches without incurring significant costs. Performing A/B testing for email campaigns brings more impressive results while minimizing expenses. Once you detect a change that does wonders, you can stop the process and enjoy what you get.

  • Upper hand

A/B testing in email campaigns grants you a competitive edge in the crowded market. By creating engaging content with stunning visuals that appeal to your clients, you can outperform other market players. Demonstrating understanding and empathy towards your clientele helps you build more robust connections and foster loyalty.

testing aillustration

Take these steps to succeed

A/B testing for marketing mailing runs as follows:

  • Clearly set your goal

Start by determining the exact elements that require evaluation and what you ultimately hope to achieve. Crafting a message to capture people’s attention or raise CTR rates, and so forth could be what you’re looking for. 

  • Pick the elements 

Now, choose the elements themselves. This could be subject lines, copy, CTA buttons, visuals, or anything else. 

  • Craft variations

Develop different versions, with one element slightly modified in each. For instance, two versions of the subject like could look like these:

A: Don’t Miss Out: Exclusive Offer Inside!

B: Limited Time Only: Special Discount for You!

Two variants of the text could look like these:

A: “Hi [Name], Hopefully you’re doing fine. We wanted to share an exclusive offer with you – [Product/Service] at an unbeatable price! Our team has carefully curated this deal just for our valued customers like you. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to [Highlight Benefits]. Follow the link below to avail this offer now!”

B: “[Name], hurry – the clock is ticking! Take advantage of this extraordinary [Product/Service] offer before it’s gone! As a customer who has stuck with us, you can get a special deal that’s exclusive to you. Seize the moment and [Highlight Benefits]. Click the link below to grab this deal before it’s gone!”

And here is what your CTA button could look like:

A: “Shop Now”

B: “Claim Your Discount”

  • Divide your users into groups

Shuffle your list and divide it into two or more groups, giving each a different version. It’s recommended to use a small portion of your total audience to limit the impact on your overall campaign. Try out various versions with various groups and see how successful it is in boosting engagement and sales.

  • Carry out mailing activities

Distribute the unique versions of your email to their respective audience segments. Try to do it simultaneously to minimize any external factors that could affect the results.

  • Gather relevant data

Keep a close eye on the performance of each variation by tracking key metrics, such as open rates, CTR, conversion rates, or engagement levels.

  • Evaluate the outcomes

Evaluate the effects of your project after some time has elapsed to determine which version was more useful in meeting your purpose. Make sure the results show statistical significance in order to guarantee they are valid.

  • Introduce changes

Take the knowledge you receive from the A/B test results to modify your advertising plan. If a subject line yields higher open rates, use it in your emails going forward. If one CTA button yields better CTR results, include it in your future plans.

  • Iterate and repeat

Make a practice of ongoing optimization by repeating the marketing A/B testing process with varying elements or variations. Utilize the insights gleaned from previous tests to consistently enhance the performance of your campaigns.

Remember: email A/B testing proves much more efficient when performed on texts sent regularly. Sure, you could check how your “Happy Easter!” greeting works, but holidays like this happen once a year. So, this procedure is pointless in this case. But if you wish to test your blog newsletter, this approach will be efficient.


Elements to work with

Now that you’re familiar with A/B testing in digital marketing, we’ll specify what you may work with. You can make use of real user data to optimize various elements. Here are some of the most significant ones to focus your attention on.

  • “From” element 

Do you prefer to hear from a business or from an individual? Zapier observed an increased email open rate when mentioning a team member’s name compared to using just the firm name. Nevertheless, be aware that this may not be suitable for your target audience. Analyzing an A/B test you run on your own list will help you choose the optimal “from” name for your campaign.

  • Subject line

Have you given thought to how lengthy a subject line ought to be? According to a well-known Marketo study, the best length for a subject line is 4 words. There is something else to consider in its make-up other than character count. Remember that your particular audience may have different reactions. Examine what works best for your viewers by running split tests to try out various characteristics, such as size, expression, and atmosphere. You will have the ability to use data to make decisions and fine-tune your subject lines to reach their fullest potential.

  • Preheader

We’ve overlooked the potential of the message preview, which is referred to as the preheader, in the past, and we own up to that. You can alter the brief message that appears in the inbox. It may take a bit of effort to verify it, but it can be worth the effort. Are you looking at the little snippet of text that helps you decide if the newsletter is worthwhile? Evaluating the preheader’s performance can give you useful knowledge and aid you in optimizing this commonly disregarded element for improved involvement and CTR.

  • Plain text

Embracing simplicity can be reasonable, even in A/B testing for email marketing. Avoid an overly embellished newsletter, simple text messages are preferable. It can feel more personal, like something a friend would give you. Furthermore, they load faster as well as display quicker for certain users, which decreases the chance of vital links or data not showing up accurately. Experimenting with different formats can give you insight into what your audience will respond to best.

  • Salutation

Personalizing greetings is important to enhance user satisfaction. People like being addressed by name, this sounds pleasant. However, not every user indicates their name upon registration, so you should think out how to make texts sound as personal as possible anyway. 

  • Body copy

Morgan Brown suggests a unique approach to A/B testing for email copy. His suggestion? Reduce the length of your copy by half and then reduce it by half again. This recommendation aligns with the common sentiment that most people prefer shorter messages. But beyond length, there are other formatting shifts that can be verified, such as using bullet points, numbered lists, or a question-and-answer format. An alternate choice is to utilize only one sentence for the body content, with a persuasive CTA afterward. Trying out different formats can help make your campaigns more successful.

  • Images

Even small changes in images can have a big impact on engagement. Two versions may have similar layouts with main points and icons but differ in their use of images. And this brings different outcomes. When working with images, it’s important to select widespread file types like JPG or GIF to ensure they display correctly in inboxes. Don’t forget to add alt text as a fallback option.


  • Layout

A/B testing in email marketing also covers design. It only takes three to four seconds to grab the attention of customers in the fast-paced world. That’s why an eye-catching design is crucial. Not only should it look good, but it should also be able to adapt to different screen sizes and be mobile-friendly. Examining different design aspects, for instance increased font size and definitive calls to action, can have a significant impact on the total efficacy. Design your layout for mobile viewing to guarantee your message is transmitted even when out and about.

  • CTA

Crafting engaging CTAs can be done in an infinite number of ways. The point is to get your viewers to click, so why not try different methods to write and display these critical parts? The length, capitalization, punctuation, font, and other characteristics can all be adjusted.


  • Day and time for mailing

How about getting a mailing from your favorite drawing school every Saturday night at 10 p.m.? Do you really care to read anything at this time of the day? Mailings sent out on Tuesday have the best effect on CTR, making it the most popular day to send them. Nevertheless, you should take your browsing practices into consideration. This can help you gain understanding of when your industry’s audience is likely to behave similarly. Working out what is the most suitable day and time can be tricky, particularly for online businesses that have customers and subscribers from all over the world. But introducing email A/B testing for the day of the week and time of day can help you uncover the optimal approach to your users.


Incorporating A/B testing in email campaigns can significantly increase your business’s success. You should think carefully about your strategy, look at the data closely, and make changes as needed to keep improving your marketing results. Consistent optimization can assist you in connecting more deeply with your clients.


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Published on April 20, 2023 by Lucija; modified on March 26, 2024. Filed under: , , , .

I used to write about games but now work on web development topics at WebFactory Ltd. I've studied e-commerce and internet advertising, and I'm skilled in WordPress and social media. I like design, marketing, and economics. Even though I've changed my job focus, I still play games for fun.

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