A/B testing, or split testing, is the process of testing two different emails (or style of email) to see which will produce the best results on a mass-scale. Typically, the system for A/B testing consists of designing two marketing emails and sending each one to a small subset of your email list. The CTR (click-through-rate) can be tracked via Google Analytics, then the results are tallied and whichever campaign was more successful is used for the remainder of the email list. Google even includes an A/B testing tool in their GA suite.
Be sure to compose each email carefully before starting the test. If you decide you want to change something about one of the emails or need to correct a mistake, keep in mind that this will skew the results and will likely throw off your numbers and the data will not be as useful.
You can use A/B testing to evaluate different subject lines, test visual design, the use of images in emails, different promotions including sales vs. coupons or HTML vs. text emails. Just about any factor of a marketing email can be tweaked for better results by using A/B testing. Using A/B testing, you can even test different “from” email addresses to check about whether a particular persona or address results in a higher CTR.
As with all marketing, email marketing benefits from more testing data and a more precise marketing strategy. GIve A/B testing a shot and let me know about your results!
By Alec Wilcox
Follow me on:
A lot of people don’t know that of the many useful capabilities of Google Analytics, one can also use these tools to track email marketing performance. Many marketers are not aware that Google Analytics can be used to track marketing emails “beyond the click,” this is to say, track the behavior of users once they have reached your website.
Email marketing can use specially formatted links to engage Google Analytics. When these links are clicked from within a marketing email, the Analytics account will acknowledge this fact and report it. Several bloggers recommend using “advanced segments,” a Google Analytics rule, to isolate people who are clicking through your emails. This way, you can separate those that were referred by direct marketing efforts and those that came upon your site or products organically (by referrals, Google results, or some other means).
Google Analytics works by “link tagging,” or using parameters within a dynamic URL to convey a message to the Analytics software. Google has a URL creator tool that you can use to custom-tailor URLs (the link is here: http://goo.gl/3bJVl ). Once these parameters have been put into place, you should be able to go to your Google Analytics account and begin to form a trend or behavior pattern for those that have clicked through.
Once you have this data, it should become easier to start making adjustments to the campaign. You can change the frequency, tone, or timing of your emails. Does it have a negative or positive effect? How about if you change the wording? More data on the subject is always going to help you form a plan of attack for your specific marketing situation. Experiment with different strategies and see what works through Google Analytics.