Top 5 e-Newsletter Elements to A/B Split Test

Are you using A/B split testing to evaluate key elements of your e-newsletter? If not, you’re merely playing a guessing game when it comes to content and design decisions. No matter how big or how small your e-news audience, you should be taking advantage of this simple method of testing to fine-tune your e-news product and stop gambling on hunches and guesses when it comes to important e-marketing decisions.

If you’re new to A/B Split Testing—don’t panic—the concept is quite simple and easy to implement. When putting together your next e-newsletter chose one element that you’ve considered changing, but rather than just blindly going ahead with the change, send the altered version of your e-newsletter to only a segment of your subscriber list, then compare the response rates with those from your current unaltered e-newsletter.

If you have a small subscriber list (<5,000-10,000) you’ll need to do a true “A/B” split and send the altered test version of your e-newsletter to half of your list in order to have a reliable test pool. The larger your subscriber list, the more complicated A/B split testing you can experiment with in any one issue, as you can segment out multiple batches of control and test groups within your audience base. Check out this article from ClickZ if you’re completely new to A/B split testing:

Here are our top five most interesting elements that produced dramatically different results in recent A/B split test case studies:

  1. Subject Line: Possibly the most important element in your e-newsletter—if your readers don’t buy into the subject line, they’ll send your e-news offering straight to the trash before any of your fabulous content or design ideas even have a chance to win them over. This makes consistent subject line testing well-worth your time. My Emma recently tested a long-versus-short subject line; betting on the short subject line to win, due in part to the increase in views on mobile devices, they were surprised to find that a longer subject line had a 3% greater open rate.
  1. Button Color: Try a red or orange button color for your call to action—whether it is “Buy Now,” “Register,” or “Subscribe,” tests have found something as simple as bright colors increase response rates dramatically. GSM Mobile found a 5% increase in response after changing their “Buy Now” button from green to orange.
  1. Navigation Menu: Try testing the removal of your navigation menu or other elements that are cluttering up your e-news layout. You’ll be surprised how often less is more when it comes to design and layout. Yuppiechef recently saw conversion rates jump 100%, from 3% to 6%, when they removed their navigation menu.
  1. Pop-up forms: They may be annoying and you might have sworn you’ll never use them, but try testing before you make this decision. Visual Website Optimizer saw a 50% increase in response with the addition of a pop-up form to solicit subscriptions to their e-newsletter.
  1. Content Shifts: While content is the most time-consuming and resource-intensive element to test, it might just be the most effective change you can implement in your e-newsletter. Sensing that your topics are too stuffy and wanting to lighten-up the tone of your articles? Concerned that your content focus is leaving out large segments of your potential audience, but too worried about losing your current readers to experiment with new content? Try A/B split testing before you make any major shifts in editorial content and then you can tweak your editorial focus with confidence.

The beauty of A/B split testing is the security you’ll feel in knowing your e-marketing decisions are backed up by solid data and not mere shots in the dark. Instead of your marketing team crossing their fingers and blindly hoping for good results, you can rely on testing results to feel confident in your e-marketing choices, and that confidence is well-worth the extra time and effort it takes to conduct A/B split tests on a regular basis.


This originally appeared as part of our Vitamin E e-newsletter for e-newsletters. All the articles:

e-Revenue: 6 Ways to Improve Your Ad Sales e-Newsletter

E-Newsletter Layout: Three Things that Should Appear in the Preview Pane View

Top 5 e-Newsletter Elements to A/B Split Test

How to Use Video to Increase e-Newsletter Revenue

Carl’s Capsules: Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Unconference

E-Newsletter of the Month: Condé Nast’s GQ Pulls off a Daily e-Newsletter with Simplicity, Style, and Sales Savvy


Re-run: Mastering QR Codes to Increase Subscriptions

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