Today's digital landscape puts a world of potential customers in our pockets. Businesses must now take the initiative to reach out to customers wherever they may be - usually, on their smartphones. How does one grab the attention of a busy, tech-savvy audience amid the constant flurry of emails? The answer is right in front of you - the subject line of your emails. The perfect subject line is your golden ticket to customer engagement, but how do you find it? The best solution lies in A/B testing each subject line for almost every email you send.
This guide provides the building blocks for an effective subject line A/B testing strategy, a powerful tool for any email marketing strategy.
Understanding A/B Testing in Email Marketing
A/B testing in email marketing involves experimenting with different brand messages to determine which ones yield the best results. Here, 'best results' typically mean some form of conversion: click-throughs to a website for purchases, sign-ups for a webinar, or newsletter subscriptions.
There are numerous types of A/B tests, each with varying complexity. You could test whether one subject line performs better than another or if sending emails on specific weekdays yield better results. This article focuses on subject line A/B testing, arguably the most vital aspect of your email marketing strategy since it's the first interaction a customer has with your business messaging.
The Impact of Subject Lines
A compelling subject line can be the difference between a successful campaign and a missed opportunity. Every email campaign should have at least two subject lines delivered as an A/B test. This approach not only optimizes your campaigns by diversifying your subject lines but also allows you to evaluate the performance of previous subject lines.
Remember, the effectiveness of a subject line varies from one industry to another and one campaign to another. It's always beneficial to experiment with different subject lines to find a style that best suits your campaigns.
The Benefits of Subject Line A/B Testing
The primary aim of subject line A/B testing is to improve conversion rates, but there's a deeper, often overlooked benefit. This technique challenges the internal assumptions businesses make about their brand, audience, and market. It breaks the bubble and avoids groupthink, allowing you to test multiple ideas through your regularly sent emails.
Structuring Effective Subject Lines
Creating effective subject lines isn't random—it requires a systematic approach. Keeping your subject lines short and honest is crucial to avoid being marked as spam. The subject line should ideally be a conversation starter, offering a promise, a joke, an invitation, or a declaration. Emojis, numbers, and title case can also improve the chances of getting past the spam folder. The structure should be concise, sharp, and to the point. However, whether a shorter or longer message is more effective would be subject to—yes, you've guessed it—subject line testing.
Creating Effective Subject Lines
Effective subject lines center around your audience's interests, not your business. A/B testing provides an excellent avenue to probe, test, and confirm your assumptions about your audience and your business's perception. It's an effective method of improving not only your email marketing but your overall marketing content as well. The ultimate aim is to understand what your audience values about your product or service and communicate that effectively.
The Content of Effective Subject Lines
Once you've got the structure down, you need to focus on the content to test. This usually involves determining what's important to your audience. One way of achieving this is simply by asking them via surveys or site pop-ups. Alternatively, you can also test your own assumptions about your audience.
But remember, while discounts may seem like an easy way out, they're not always the best solution. Constant discounts could lead to a culture of expectation among your audience. Subject line testing can help you emphasize the value of your products to your audience and learn what your audience values most.
Don't Forget the Preview Line
The preview line—appearing directly under the subject line in most inboxes—plays a crucial role in email marketing. It can act as a continuation of the subject line or offer an explanatory invitation to act on the email. Pairing an effective subject line with a good preview line can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your emails.
Aligning the Content of the Email
The content of your email should continue the message in the subject and preview line pairing. There should be a strong and clear connection between the two.
The Power of Continuous Testing
Subject line A/B testing should be an ongoing part of your email marketing strategy. As your audience and your business evolve, your subject and preview lines—being the first point of contact for your brand in a customer's inbox—must stay attuned to what your audience values about your product or service. Constant testing keeps your messages fresh and your audience engaged, the hallmarks of a successful subject line A/B testing strategy.
Leveraging subject line A/B testing can significantly improve your marketing messaging strategy. By keeping the content of your emails closely related to your subject/preview lines pairing, you'll avoid creating a monotonous stream of messages that your customers will eventually learn to ignore. Keep things fresh, stay engaged
Daniel Loebl is a Digital Marketer with over 10 years of experience. He is ready to tell your story via email. Request an appointment.