17 Email A/B Testing Ideas to Spice Up Your Email Strategy

Published by Michelle Leung on

email a/b testing ideas

Email A/B testing (also known as split testing) is an effective way to test how two variables impact your email performance. It’s one of the best ways to gain reliable insight into your customers’ preferences and systematically improve conversion rates.

Are you looking for inspiration to start A/B testing your emails? In this blog, we’ll break down 17 email A/B testing ideas to help you improve your engagement rates today. 

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing allows you to better understand how your audience responds to emails. The data you gain from every split test enables you to improve your messaging and ensure your customers open and read your content.

Start by creating two identical emails. Then, choose one specific part of the email for experimentation. This variable could be your subject line, image or call-to-action, for example.

Next, split your contact list in half (group A and group B). Send one version to each group. Then, measure the performance results.

The results help you determine what works better with your audience. Since you’re only changing one variable between the two emails, you’ll be able to understand which variable attributes to better performance. Then moving forward, use the winning variable to generate stronger engagement from your list. 

To help you narrow down the playing field, we’ve compiled 17 email A/B testing ideas to incorporate into your email marketing strategy. 

Subject Line A/B Tests

A subject line is the first (and possibly only) content your audience sees, so you need to grab their attention immediately. If your subject line doesn’t entice readers, you won’t even see a high open rate in the first place. 

Here are a few ways you can test your subject lines. 

1. Word Length

Does your audience respond well to longer subject lines or shorter ones? 

47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line, so subject line length can mean everything. For instance, consider how your audience might react to “Welcome!” versus “Nice to meet you!”.

2. Emoji vs. No Emoji

Today, companies can include emojis in their subject lines, which can convey emotions that marketers weren’t able to do before. According to Experian, subject lines with emojis have a 45% higher open rate. 

Try adding an emoji to your subject line that elevates your message, such as a “dancing” emoji or cake emoji if you’re celebrating something.

3. Tone

What tone of voice does your audience respond to better? Consider enthusiastic subject lines like “All New Arrivals!” versus something a bit more mysterious like “New arrivals have dropped.” 

While tone largely depends on your brand’s curated voice, it never hurts to check in on how your audience is reacting over time.

4. Personalized Subject Line vs. Generic

Did you know 22.2% of audiences are more likely to open emails with their names in the subject line? 

Some consumers, however, find this overly personal. So, try A/B testing generic subject lines versus personalized subject lines to your recipients.

5. Statements vs. Questions

A subject line with a question elicits a response and can be more engaging than a simple statement. Try variations like “20% Off Going On Now” versus “Want to save 20% on your entire purchase?” 

Pro-Tip: Make sure your email’s preview text stays consistent. If you change both the subject line and preview text, you won’t know which variable attributes to your successful result.

Call-to-Action A/B Tests

Every good email includes a call-to-action, or a CTA. In other words, your audience needs to take action after reading. How should you style your CTAs, and what should they say? 

6. Button Color

Try switching up the colors of your CTA button. While you should stay close to your brand colors, one color may make provoke a stronger response than another. People react to colors differently, so try split-testing colors across different demographics. 

7. Button Shape

Your CTA button could be square, rectangular or have rounded edges. All options are standard, so this is something you can test. 

8. Button Size

You don’t want your CTA to be so large that it dominates the content of the email, but you also don’t want it so small that it goes unnoticed. 

A few guidelines exist, but even those are contradictory. For example, Apple recommends that mobile CTAs should be larger than 44×44 pixels, while Microsoft says they should be 34×26 pixels. You can try testing standard size buttons or full-width buttons to see which variation increases click rates. 

9. Button Location 

Most marketers assume that placing a CTA button at the bottom of the copy is enough. But not everyone who opens your email will read through the entire thing. 

Try placing your CTA at the beginning of the email, or both at the beginning and the end. You can also test alignment with left-justified, right-justified or centered buttons. 

10. CTA Copy

Will your readers react more strongly to quick action words or something a little more creative? CTAs tell your audience why they should click, so some extra info can go a long way. Alternatively, a couple of to-the-point words can be just as effective. 

Email Content A/B Tests

How much content (or what kind of content) is your audience willing to digest? Try these email content variations in your A/B testing. 

11. Salutation

Emails with personalized content have an average open rate of 18.8%. “Hi [Name]!”, “Hello [Name],” or “What’s up?” are very different greetings. The length of your salutation, level of personalization and tone are all possible testing variables. 

12. Image-Heavy vs. Text-Heavy

Image-heavy content doesn’t always entice readers, nor is it guaranteed to load effectively for all of your recipients. 

It’s a good idea to break up text with some images. The general rule-of-thumb is 30% images and 70% text, but the only way to know for sure is to A/B test that ratio with your list! 

13. Long Copy vs. Short Copy

Most marketers don’t consider how long their emails are or whether their subscribers are likely to read through the entire thing. But some emails are also too short, which can confuse your subscribers if you don’t provide enough information. According to Boomerang, the ideal email length is between 50 and 125 words, so copy length is a variable worth testing.

14. Video vs. No Video

Videos are becoming increasingly crucial in email marketing, yielding a 200-300% increase in click-through rates. Will the same work for your audience? Try adding a video to your email content to see what happens.

15. Personalization vs. No Personalization

Beyond subject lines and salutations, there are other ways to personalize your copy. Is your audience interested in seeing their name sprinkled in the text, as if they’re getting an email from a friend? Give it a try and see if your engagement rates change.

Pro-Tip: Discover expert tips on how to increase email engagement with personalization. 

Send Time A/B Tests

Timing is everything. If you send emails during popular send times, your email might get lost among all the messages your recipients have to sift through.  

16. Day of the Week

When it comes to sending emails, some days are better than others. Statistically speaking, Tuesdays through Thursdays see higher open rates. 

However, you might have an audience that mostly works during the weekends, making weekends, or even Mondays, more valuable. Send emails at the same time during each day of the week to see which day produces higher open rates. 

17. Time of Day

Likewise, some hours are statistically better than others for sending emails. 

After you’ve chosen a day, pick a baseline hour, such as 6:00 am. Then, space out email sends across every hour afterward. Which send times elevate your email engagement rates?

Pro-tip: Automate send time and frequency using Seventh Sense.

Uplift Your A/B Testing With Personalize

As you can see, A/B testing ideas are endless. There are many ways to determine your audience’s engagement levels and encourage them to convert. 

These tests can be a lot to get through on your own, but luckily, we’re here to help!

Personalize is a content recommendation engine that you can leverage in your email marketing efforts and A/B tests to improve open rates and click rates. 

Our AI-powered tool reviews metrics such as time on page, recency and frequency to determine your audiences’ top three interests in real-time. As a result, you’ll be able to optimize your emails faster, send highly targeted content and obtain the results your business needs to succeed. 

Interested in learning more? Sign up for a free demo and 30-day trial of Personalize today!


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