Jim Agger
October 20, 2014 | Email Marketing | Jim Agger

Using A/B testing to make your email marketing sparkle


Figuring out which message evokes the action to buy can be a tall order. Having a loyal customer base through sales or a wine club helps, since you can relay the news of this new vintage through an email. But how do you get that message to make your customers interested in the wine? Sometimes you're not sure if you're getting the right message or imagery across to appeal to wine lovers. That's why you should look into conducting A/B testing on your email promotions.

Choosing between red and white backgrounds
A/B testing has its origins on the Web, when marketers would test pages to see if changes to parts of a page would cause people to click through or convert, more or less. Email split testing runs under the same basic premise, according to MailChimp. You're experimenting to see what is the ideal email that customers and club members will open and then click onward to potentially order a new wine.

With email A/B testing for wine marketing, what you do is essentially send emails to two different groups on your mailing list. One will get an email that uses the same layout and design as your previous emails. The other will receive an email where a single element from the design or layout has been changed. Both have been marked with identifying tags for which one was clicked on. Once people receive the email, you can then use data analytics to determine which one works better for you.

As with any test, you determine the goals of success as noted by KISSmetrics. It can be awareness of the new vintage for people to get later or refer to friends or it can be straight sales. In the case of wine clubs, you can use the analytics in these tests to determine if any of your clubs change in membership. It's a great way to find out what works best in selling wine online.

Pairing a great headline with a good time
There are a variety of elements to test in an email A/B test. A lot of them are quite basic and similar to the Web-based tests that are still used regularly today. The most basic thing to test is the subject line of the email. A strong subject line is like a effective headline, drawing people to open the email to begin with. Other parts you should consider within the email are the message layout, the use and placement of images, the content of your email describing the wine and the call to action. Even the color of the CTA button can be tested.

However, email has its own advantages and challenges when it comes to A/B testing. For example, you have a guaranteed source of people that will see the two emails, since you can just use your available mailing list to conduct the test. You don't even need to use the entire list, which can be helpful in deploying the most effective email quickly.

Yet a significant problem with email A/B testing is that people can be a lot more finicky with emails, especially when they open them. As a result, it's important to choose the right time of day to conduct these tests. AdWeek cited a report from Experian Marketing Services that found click-thru rates for promotional emails are typically highest on the weekends and evenings, when consumer inboxes aren't quite as flooded with other emails. It's often much harder to gather effective test results if you send your messages between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. on weekdays, when 40 percent of all marketing emails are usually sent. Paying close attention to these nuances will help you improve your overall communication efforts. You want your wine lovers to be in the right state to order wine, so the timing matters.


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