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What is email A/B testing?

Email A/B testing is a powerful email marketing tactic for marketing teams that want to nurture an email optimization and testing culture and achieve better email campaign results and ROI through testing.

Running an email A/B test means splitting a portion of your mailing list into two (or more), then sending your email campaign with only one difference between the two emails (e.g. two different subject lines). Whichever email performs better tells you something, such as: a shorter subject line performs better than a longer one. Through email A/B testing you can gather enough email campaign data to truly understand what works for your email subscribers and, as a result, you can adopt what you've learned into your next email campaigns.

Email A/B testing best practices and ideas

You can pretty much run an email A/B test on any content and design component in your email campaigns, such as:

  • Subject line, sender name and email address
  • Call-to-action (CTA), length of content, font color and size
  • Images, buttons, and other visual elements
  • Sending times (e.g. test different hours or days to send)

Keep in mind that for your email A/B test to be statistically accurate you should: 1) Only test one variable at a time and 2) have a large enough test mailing list (for stats geeks out there it's called the significance level of your data).

Email A/B testing with MailUp

Email A/B testing may seem a simple concept, but finding the right email A/B testing tool can be a challenge. The MailUp platform has its own built-in email A/B testing tool that allows you to:

  • Organize and choose which emails will be used in your email A/B testing campaign. Notice, that more than 2 emails can be chosen.
  • Indicate what portion of your mailing list will be used as your test mailing list. You can choose a range between 5% to 30% of your mailing list. Notice that your test mailing subscribers are randomized so that your email stats are accurate.
  • Choose how to measure the success of your email A/B test by choosing either open rate or clickthrough rate.
  • Finally, you can choose to have the MailUp platform send out the winning email automatically to the remainder of your mailing list, after a given period of time. Or, another option is to send your email A/B test and review the email campaign results before sending it to your remaining mailing list.
Improve email marketing campaign performance with AB testing
Here's a quick video tutorial on how to run an email A/B test in MailUp:

Email A/B testing resources

A/B testing in email marketing

Looking to learn more about how email A/B testing works?

Download our free white paper on email A/B testing,

....or read our past blog post on how the Obama Fundraising Campaign ran email A/B tests: What if A/B email testing got you an extra $200 million?