When I was preparing to send out my very first email campaign, I remember thinking that email marketing would be so simple. Boy, was I wrong! Any seasoned email marketer can tell you that conducting an email campaign, and a successful one at that, is a very tricky process, full of hurdles and straight-up uncertainty. It’s usually pretty obvious when a campaign falls flat on its face, but for other campaigns that seem to do alright, it can be hard to tell if your email marketing is really living up to its potential. Even worse, if you suspect that your emails could be performing better, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what will improve them. If you’ve ever been caught in this predicament, you might want to give split-testing a try.

Split-testing, or A/B testing, is a simple testing process that can produce outstanding results if done correctly. When it comes down to it, split-testing involves splitting your email list up into two or more separate groups, and sending each group a slightly different email. It’s that simple! The email that performs the best should give you an indication of what your readers prefer for future email campaigns.

There are several ways to go about this. The most straightforward approach to split-testing your email campaign is to divide your email list into two equal groups, but you can divide the list up however you’d like, as long as the selection is random. You could create three groups and test three different emails rather than two. Another common tactic is to create two smaller “testing” groups, and then send the better-performing email out to your remaining contacts.

Now that you have the tools to split-test your email campaign, give yourself the leeway to experiment a little! Small changes can make a big difference! Try things out even if you’re not sure they’ll do well – you could be surprised at your readers’ preferences. Some of the most common elements to test using this method are:

Subject Line
From Line
Content and/or Offer
Layout and Images
Days and Times
Sending Frequency

When split-testing your email campaign, it is important to make sure that you only test one element at a time. This means that, for example, if you decide to test whether a red call-to-action button or a green button performs better, keep it simple and stick to that. Don’t try to test the color of the button and switch up the subject line at the same time, because when the results come in, you won’t know which change made the difference; it could be the button, it could be the subject line, or it could be both. The whole point of conducting split-testing for your email campaign is to eliminate uncertainty, so if you have multiple elements that you would like to test, save each element for a separate test.

Split-testing gives you the power to base your email campaign decisions on hard numbers, so utilize it! If you take the results of your split-testing seriously, the quality of your email marketing will most likely improve, as will your engagement metrics.

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