Analytics & Statistics

How to Use A/B Testing Features to Optimize Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Blue and yellow frames symbolizing AB testing in email marketing
Blue and yellow frames symbolizing AB testing in email marketing
Source: Freepik

If you want better results from your efforts, email marketing A/B testing is more important than ever. In a world where people receive countless emails every day, it’s never been more important to get your marketing messages noticed by targeting your emails.

Today, it is no longer enough for companies using email marketing to assume they know what email their audience will want to open, let alone read. Creating great emails that get noticed, opened, and read means a lot of research and strategy.

If you want to learn how to run a successful email marketing campaign using A/B testing, then click no further. That’s all you’ll read about in this article, so let’s get started.

What is A/B testing in email marketing?

A/B testing is a method that allows you to scientifically test how effective your email marketing is. With A/B testing, you create two or more versions of an email, called variants, to determine which one performs statistically better. This allows you to collect data on the best-performing email variant, which you can then apply to current and future email marketing campaigns.

The most successful marketing emails are created with clear objectives in mind, with the target audience at the forefront of every plan.

Email A/B testing is one of the best ways to determine what resonates most with your audience and what interests them. It allows you to gather data that tells you more about your email marketing campaigns’ effectiveness.

Why do you need email A/B testing?

A/B testing or split testing is an effective way to determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to email marketing. It takes the guesswork out of assuming that your customers prefer one type of email over another. The more A/B testing you do, the more information you’ll have for future emails.

While one-off or occasional testing can help you gather information to expand your knowledge of email marketing and make more effective decisions, regular testing is an important part of any successful email marketing strategy.

How to set email A/B testing goals?

As with any other digital marketing activity, conducting split, or A/B, testing with a clear goal is important. While you can get useful results from a quick email A/B test, the best way to get the most reliable data and the best results is to follow a precise testing strategy that you stick to.

Email A/B or split testing is always a great tool, but it can be particularly useful when you want to gain deeper insights into a new email format or campaign. Before starting A/B testing, it’s important to first establish what you’re testing and why you’re testing it.

What should you use the A/B test email for?

In some cases, it can be difficult to determine which variable test will best help you improve key metrics. From design principles to subject line strategies, there are many components to a successful email. Understanding all of your email’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and the email components that influence them will help you determine what to test. 

Email marketer working with laptop in a coffee shop
Source: Freepik

Some common variables to test include:

  1. Open rate

The open rate represents the percentage of customers who opened the email. This can be calculated by dividing the number of unique email opens by the number of emails delivered. If you are worried about a low open rate, test your subject line or header. Subject lines are particularly important as they are the first thing people see when an email hits their inbox. The better the subject line, the more likely it is that subscribers will open the email and read through it.

  1. Click through to open the rate

This is the percentage of unique clicks in the email divided by the unique open percentage. If you have a low click-through and open rate, or if you want to improve an email that is already performing well, there are several elements within the body of the email that you should consider A/B testing. Content testing is a good place to start, as engaging and attention-grabbing content will keep subscribers interested throughout the email. Consider interactive content, contests, or information gaps that can increase engagement. Some key variables to consider testing are anchor texts, calls to action, bold images, spacing, and personalization.

  1. Unsubscribe rate

This is the percentage of customers who unsubscribe from future emails from you. A/B testing can help you determine why this is the case. The frequency and relevance of emails are the two main variables to test, as they are the biggest reasons why subscribers unsubscribe

Best practices for A/B testing in email marketing and campaign testing

Although email A/B testing sounds fairly straightforward, like all experiments, you need to confirm the details and make sure that your test is valid. Some good practices to keep in mind:

  1. Identification of each variable

Make sure that tests are prioritized and that you run split tests first for the most frequently sent and important emails. Knowing what you want to improve about the emails before running the tests is important.

  1. Test only one item at a time

Always insist on testing only one change at a time. To do this, have one control email that remains unchanged and one version with one change, such as a different subject line, a different color button for a call to action, or a different offer. Testing several variables at once can make it difficult to determine which one led to a different result.

  1. Recording test results

Keep a record of the A/B tests you have performed, the test results, and your plan to implement the results. Many people find it useful to maintain an Excel spreadsheet containing details of all the tests conducted, as it provides a comprehensive view of the results.

Setting up the best A/B testing for email marketing

Now that you understand the basics of A/B testing, here are the steps you need to follow to set up a successful split test.

  • Define your goals

First, it’s important to clearly define the goals of the campaign you want to test. You’ll need to come back to this often as you work out the details of the testing process.

  • Setting testing benchmarks

Once the objectives have been defined, review your current email data and determine how successful previous email campaigns have been. You can then use these findings as benchmark numbers that will be meaningful when analyzing test data to gauge success early on. These numbers will also be useful in helping you determine which variables you want to test.

For example, you can use the statistics and market research platform Statista. It provides a wide range of email marketing statistics and data, including email usage trends, email open and click-through rates, email marketing ROI, and more. These statistics can help you gain insights into the current state of email marketing and inform your email marketing strategies.

Email marketer analyzing AB test results
Source: Freepik
  • Build your test

Once you have your objectives and benchmark data, it’s time to start building your test. Remember that it is important to test only one variable at a time. When building your test, the test sample size should be large enough to give you an idea of how your other subscribers are responding without using the full list, but small enough to send the best-performing version to a large audience segment. Remember that it’s important to use a sample that is representative of the entire list rather than a specific segment.

The time taken to run the test depends on the size of the list. For large lists, a simple email marketing campaign may be sufficient. The key is to get enough clicks or opens, depending on the main target, to make the results statistically significant. To determine whether your test is a winner or a loser, the test results must be at least 90% statistically significant.

How to track and measure A/B tested email campaigns?

With so many different items to test, you may wonder what you can do to check whether the test has provided useful data or succeeded. To track and measure the success of the A/B testing you run in your email marketing campaigns, it’s important to reflect on your goals. Your initial goals will tell you which metrics you need to pay the most attention to, as well as any metrics you need to work on improving, such as click-through rate, open rate, and delivery rate. It’s also crucial to be able to look at your metrics as a whole and see the bigger picture when it comes to how well or poorly an email has performed. The ability to track this data and refer back to it will help you optimize future email campaigns.

On the web, you can find benchmark reports that provide data on key email marketing metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates across different industries, regions, and devices. These reports can help you compare your email marketing performance against industry averages and identify areas for improvement.

Smaily and email marketing in A/B testing

Smaily offers A/B testing features that can help optimize your email marketing campaigns. A/B testing, also known as split testing, involves creating multiple variations of an email campaign and testing them against each other to identify the most effective version.

Here’s how you can use Smaily’s A/B testing features to optimize your email marketing campaigns:

  • Create Variations

With Smaily’s A/B testing features, you can create different variations of your email campaigns, such as different subject lines, email content, call-to-action buttons, or sender names. These variations are randomly sent to a subset of your email list, ensuring that each variation has an equal chance of being tested.

  • Define Goals

Next, you can define the goals of your A/B test, such as open rates, click-through rates, or conversion rates and align your tasks accordingly. You can set up multiple goals for each test, and keeping an Excel spreadsheet is a great way to keep track of both your plan and the achievement of your goals. 

  • Monitor Results

Smaily’s A/B testing features provide real-time data on the performance of each variation, allowing you to monitor the results as they come in. You can track key metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, to determine which variation is performing better.

  • Analyze Data

Once your A/B test is complete, you can get detailed reports and analytics that allow you to analyze the data and identify the winning variation. You can gain insights into which elements of your email campaigns resonate with your audience and use that information to optimize your future email marketing efforts.

  • Optimize Campaigns

Based on the results of your A/B test, you can optimize your email marketing campaigns by implementing the winning variation or applying the insights gained from the test to improve your overall email strategy. This iterative process of testing, analyzing, and optimizing can help you continually improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and achieve better results.

Marketing email concept with paper boats
Source: Freepik

In conclusion

A/B testing features offer a powerful tool for optimizing your email marketing campaigns. By creating variations, defining goals, monitoring results, analyzing data, and optimizing campaigns based on the insights gained, you can continually improve the performance of your email marketing efforts and drive better engagement, conversions, and results.


About the Author

Photo of Adrienn PusztaiAdrienn Pusztai is the Content Marketing Manager of, a full-scale website analytics tool. Their mission is to make it easier for customers to make those business decisions that will result in amazing business development.