Attention is the name of the game for email marketing. Email subject line testing will make a massive difference in how your email campaigns perform.
Email plays a key role in our marketing strategy. We’ve been testing our subject lines for a while now, to try and beat our “banker”, which we’ve been using for over a year.
For our most recent email newsletter, we were convinced we had a new winner. It was timely, to the point, amusing and intriguing. The only way to be sure was to test the subject line.
It’s all too easy to be over-enamoured with your subject line and not even consider alternatives.
The key to email subject line testing is to change just one thing.
This way, you can be sure your test is valid. Change too many test elements at one time, and you can’t be sure which change had an effect.
What type of email content works best?
It’s important to bear in mind the type of email content we are sending out in our monthly newsletter. Rather than a hard sell, we send out a collection of stories, based around marketing, with a few pieces of our own content added in too.
Our aim is to educate our customers and show we are marketing experts.
If your emails are sales led, then you’ll need a very focused approach to get your email opened in a very crowded inbox.
What email subject line did we test?
- Our banker email subject line is – I think you’ll find this interesting
- We tested it against – Welcome back to the office, bedroom, kitchen table
The email we tested was sent in very early January, so the test subject line felt like it was timely, lent into how people might be feeling, and was ‘stand out’ enough that we’d gain more opens.
Amongst the team, some preferred the test subject and thought it may outperform our banker email subject.
The only way to know for sure, was to run email subject line testing.
At the time, our email database stood at around 2,500, all ‘clean’ contacts, with all opt-outs removed. The deliverability of our emails is around 97% which is really healthy.
We use Campaign Monitor for all our email marketing. One of the reasons we use it, is its really robust testing tools.
Email subject line testing allows us to send the same email content with different subject lines, to a random sample of contacts, for 1 hour. The system then analyses open rates and clicks, and identifies a winner, before sending the email to the remaining contacts.
We chose to send the A/B email test to 10% of our contacts, and ensured that the email went out on the same day and time we usually email, to ensure these factors didn’t skew the results we received.
While watching the test live, the results showed no discernible difference at all, and if we were feeling especially impatient, we might have made the call to manually stop the test. As it turned out, it was worth waiting until the email test was complete, as there was a stark difference in open rates right at the end, which made a huge impact on our decision making.
By running email subject line testing, and selecting Version A as the winner, Campaign Monitor estimated that we received an additional:
- 521 opens – a 204% increase
- 77 more clicks – a 64% increase
The results of the test made a huge difference to the final results of our email marketing campaign. If we had just gone with our gut and used our new email subject line – ditching our banker – we just wouldn’t have reached as many people.
And more importantly, we wouldn’t know why.
We’ll continue to test subject lines, as you never know when you find that slight edge that makes a big difference.
If you’d like to learn more about our email subject line testing approach, email marketing process, or how we can help you with your outbound marketing, get in touch.