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Testing. Testing. Testing: How A/B Tests Can Elevate Your Marketing

Posted By Laurie Pumper, CAE, Communication Director, Thursday, August 29, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

If you are using a marketing automation system for your association’s newsletters and promotional emails, you’ve probably seen how A/B testing can help you determine what subject line language resonates best with your audience. But A/B testing can extend to so many other elements of your emails.

Time of Day
Even if you don’t have a marketing automation system, you can test what time of day works best for your audience. Send an email on three to five separate dates at a certain time (let’s say 7 a.m., when members may be eating breakfast). Check your open rates. Now, for the next three to five emails in your schedule, try sending mid-morning. Or mid-afternoon or early evening. How do your open rates compare to the previous set? If you do have marketing automation, you can schedule your mailings to concurrently test one time versus a second time.

Day of Week
Just as with time of day, you can find results for the best day of the week even if you don’t have a marketing automation system. The results may surprise you. Despite conventional wisdom that Friday is a terrible day to send emails, some organizations that we work with have really good open rates on Fridays.

Button Color
Many marketing experts say that red and orange buttons are most likely to be clicked. While that may be the case with the public at large, our testing with one client found that a bright blue button consistently works better.

Call to Action
Every email should contain a strong message that offers readers a next step (Download Our Free Ebook, Become a Member Today, Register Now for Our Event). Different people respond better to different messages. Perhaps instead of “Become a Member,” your email will get better click-throughs with “Join Our Community” or “Find Your Professional Home Base.”

Length of Message
Whether it’s an email to promote an event or an email newsletter, you can use A/B testing to help determine whether your audience responds best to a message of 100 to 200 words or a longer message. This can be helpful if a committee chair continually sends you a conference promo that resembles a Tolstoy novel in length and plot intricacy.

Length of Subject Line
Most marketing experts will tell you to keep your subject line short. But some organizations have really detail-oriented audiences, where longer subject lines test stronger.

Emojis
Not all marketing automation systems allow emojis. But if you get emails from major retailers and social media outlets, you’ve probably seen emojis in subject lines. If it works for Facebook and Yelp, maybe it can work for you. If your audience is of a certain age, emojis may not be very popular…but you won’t know unless you test.

Other
Just because something hasn’t worked in the past doesn’t mean it will never work. Maybe your members hated emojis two years ago when you tried them. But maybe they’ve become accustomed to seeing them — or perhaps the demographics of your members have changed in that time. The corollary: just because something has worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the present or the future. Continue to test with your audience to make sure that your emails get the best possible results.

 

 

Tags:  A/B testing  marketing automation  split testing 

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