3 Email A/B Testing Methods To Boost Open Rates


Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…Do you remember your last email campaign that got killer results? Did you follow up with another campaign which flopped and didn’t produce nearly as good of an outcome? A/B testing is an important aspect of your email marketing strategy as it ensures decisions are made based on data, rather than gut feelings or guesswork. This is executed by sending 2 different versions of your email campaign with one variable that has been tweaked.

Today I will be walking you through three essential A/B tests you should perform on your Email Marketing campaigns.


1. A/B Test your Subject Lines

The best place to start your A/B testing is with your subject lines. Now, as we all know, your subject line is the ultimate gatekeeper for your emails. If you have a boring, dull subject line, don’t expect many people to open your emails. On the other hand, if your subject line sparks curiosity and stands out from the rest of the pack, you can improve your open rates dramatically.

Picking a winning email subject line can be difficult, however through A/B testing, you can dramatically improve the chances of finding the most effective one for your campaign.


Personalized vs Non-Personalized

If you have your subscribers’ first names in your list, you can try using their names in the subject lines when sending out campaigns. An in-depth study conducted by MailChimp found that the use of personalisation in subject lines does indeed increase open rates by a considerable margin. 

Example: 20% Off Sale! vs Tarun, we’re giving you 20% off this week

Something interesting they also found was that although first and last name personalization was the least commonly used in subject lines, it had by far the most positive impact on open rates. 

A/B Test

Maybe next time you are sending out a campaign and want to test different subject lines, you could try first name personalization vs first and last name personalization and see if there is a major difference in the stats.


Long Subject Lines vs Short Subject Lines

Studies show that longer subject lines often have the lowest open rates. The reasons for this may be due to the viewing experience on different devices and that it may not capture the readers attention straight away versus something short and sweet. 

According to research conducted by Marketo, the sweet spot for subject lines appears to be around 41 characters or 7 words. So in future campaigns, look to create subject lines around that length and perform split tests accordingly.

Example A/B Test: 20% Off Sale! vs Don’t miss out on our 20% off storewide sale


2. A/B Test your Call To Action (CTA)

Your CTA is what motivates your customers to click through and take action on your email. Because of this, you want to make sure your CTA is as enticing as possible.


Are the CTA words you have written the most effective in generating clicks? Testing different CTAs for purchasing can include “Buy Now” vs “Explore” vs “Shop Now”. 

Placement of CTA:

Does the CTA perform better when located at the very top in the banner image? Does it work better at the very bottom once the customer has read through the email? This is another effective A/B test you can perform to see what placement works best.

Colors of CTA Button:

We all know that different colors produce different moods and this is no different when it comes to your emails. Research shows that psychologically, colors can have a profound effect on people and this can result in higher or lower click-through rates. 

It’s near impossible to prove that one color has a greater effect than another color when it comes to emails, but the best practice is to test high visibility colors that have worked well in the past and see the difference in results (Eg: blue, red, yellow).


3. A/B Test Your Sending Times

Some people open emails first thing in the morning. Others wait until after lunch. Some even wait until the end of the day to open their emails. This shows the importance of A/B testing your sending times as your audience will open them at different times. The two main variations to explore are:

Day of the week: 

Does my audience respond more when I send emails on a Monday vs a Friday? What about a Sunday vs a Wednesday? 

Time of the day: 

Does my audience open my emails first thing in the morning? Or do they usually wait until night time? Testing times such as 8am vs 5pm can give you a good indication of what your audience responds to the most.



Ultimately, A/B testing is a crucial aspect of your email marketing strategy as it provides you with actionable data that can be utilized to improve the overall effectiveness of your campaigns. Without constant testing, you are just taking a stab in the dark and hoping for the best rather than relying on accurate data being given to you about your customers. 


What A/B test has worked the best in your email marketing campaigns?

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