The Power of the A/B Split Email

If you ever played a game of Hot or Cold as a child, you know the importance of using up-to-date information to govern your choices. As you moved closer to the hidden prize, just knowing if you were getting warmer or colder was enough to let you reach it even while blindfolded. A/B split email marketing works in much the same way, giving you valuable data about the success of your marketing strategies.

What Is an A/B Split?

At its most basic, A/B split testing is an experimental approach to marketing that gives you feedback about how your email readers respond by dividing your customer base and trying two different marketing strategies. For example, one email may have a more neutrally informational tone while the other takes a more sales-oriented angle on the same subject. Your email marketing company can then tell you the details about which campaign had a higher open rate, better click-through rates and so forth.

In short, it’s a way for your customers to tell you if you’re getting hotter or colder when satisfying their needs.

A closely related concept to the A/B split is the multivariate split that uses more than two options. This experimental strategy lets you fine-tune your message by offering your email lists subtly different variations on your marketing approach. While multivariate testing is useful for honing your message to a fine point, A/B splits are the foundation of successful email marketing.

Why A/B Splits Work

Binary divisions are easy to follow. It’s why finding your way out of a maze is simple if you make only left turns. Eye doctors use binary questions when testing your vision. Computers, smartphones, and other electronics rely on binary code to simplify incredibly complex data. When you use an A/B split, you streamline your email marketing strategy into a yes or no, hot or cold, left or right question. By simplifying your marketing feedback, you get a clear indication of which way to go with your next campaign.

Another reason A/B testing works is that it’s diagnostic, not prescriptive. Instead of telling your customers what you want them to like, you’re testing what they like in real time, gathering information that makes your marketing strategy vastly more responsive.

A/B testing also works over the long run, continuing to refine your strategy every time you use it. During your first A/B split, you might choose two widely divergent messages and note a big difference in responses. Your next email marketing campaign might then pick the more successful strategy from the first round and tweak elements of it; you’ll then have a finer-grained image of how your customers respond. Even changing a single word or phrase can have a marked effect on your A/B split, so the technique permits unprecedented control over your message.

How to Run an A/B Split

An A/B split test isn’t quite as simple as sending different messages to your email lists. Your email marketing provider can give you guidance on where to make changes, how to divide your list and how to interpret the results.

Proper technology is also vital to a valuable A/B test run. Clean lists are a must; otherwise, bounce rates and bad addresses can invalidate your data altogether. Tracking past results is key too. Without understanding where you’ve been, you can’t know whether you’re getting hotter or colder when approaching your customers.

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