Being in a marketing role is all about coming up with new ideas, ‘thinking outside the box’ or ‘trying something new’. If you are involved in marketing, you will hear this kind of thing all the time. Even more so if you googled ‘top marketing tips’, i bet these will be in everyone’s top 10.

I agree with the concept, you do need to be trying something new, and often. This being said, when using this technique: how do you know if your new ideas are working? A way to test what idea is working is split testing. It is a method that you can use to know what return is generated by your email and marketing strategies and whether your content is truly reaching your audience.

The internet is a sea of content being pushed out daily trying to grab the users’ attention. Even if your blog is a fantastic piece of work, the reader can be drawn away from it by a strategically placed advert on the side. On the flip side, if what you produced was a white paper and was downloaded, you know the reader has invested time in what you have produced. What I’m trying to say is; the reader needs to engage with what you push out, and with your brand.

What is A/B testing

This is the most well-known and common form of split testing and is mainly used for emails. Two slightly different emails can be fired out to a small section of your email list and you can see which does better. The marketer can then track performance by: open rates, click rates and everything else. They can then see which works and engages the audience on a higher level. This method isn’t just for email marketing. It can be used to see which landing page performs better in a controlled experiment using two slightly different pages. Also with social media seeing which post receives more likes etc.

Why you should always use A/B testing

As is with most things in life, you need to constantly analyse what you are doing and how you are performing. There is always room for improvement (no marketing strategy is perfect!). It is essential to constantly question your email campaigns; what is working, what isn’t working, what subject line is opened most or least. Using A/B testing in this way gives you a firmer grip of your content, resulting in higher engagement levels and lead generation.

There are more variables involved in an email campaign than you think, using this way of split testing can really help you out.

Subject lines

I mentioned this further up, but its pivotal to A/B test your subject lines. Did you know that 33% of recipients open emails due to the subject line alone? Or that 40% of emails are opened on a mobile screen which only fits 4-7 words?

This just proves that using the wrong subject line can mean that a lot of your audience is not even reading your fantastic emails. On top of that your subject line might not even be read due to not fitting on the screen. How do I find out what is a good subject line? Well here is an example.

Example

Let’s say you have a mailing list of 1,000 subscribers. You have 2 subject lines and have no idea which will work best. Well you don’t want to play eenie meenie and fire one out to the masses do you? So you select a smaller sample say 10% (100 recipients). You send version 1 to 50, and version 2 to the other 50. Then analyse the results and the better performing version you send to the remaining 900 recipients, getting the highest open rates (hopefully!).

So there you have it, A/B testing. A lot of marketing is about the small changes and little percentages. Give this a go and see if there is a spike of improvement in your email campaigns.