If you’re in marketing, chances are you’ve heard about A/B testing. As for whether you’ve actually had time to put it into practice, that’s a whole other story.

For small business owners or marketers who are trying to do everything themselves, it can be tough to add yet another task to the ever-revolving list of marketing must-dos. But A/B testing has a ton of utility in terms of helping your email marketing efforts succeed — and it’s often the easiest path to determining what is and what isn’t going to work for you.

If you’re new to A/B testing — or if you’re just not confident you have the time to put it into practice — we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn about the basics of A/B testing, including why it’s important and how to implement it in your email marketing strategy.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a randomized marketing experiment that compares the outcomes of two methods: the A method and the B method.

This type of two-sample hypothesis testing is used widely by marketers, especially when it comes to email marketing. It allows you to test various features and formats and see which performs better with your audience. It can be used to compare results on everything from subject lines and body copy to image and CTA placement.

Why is A/B Testing so Important?

The benefits of A/B testing come from the insights that it gains for you. Without it, you’re pretty much just shooting in the dark with what you think your audience will engage with — instead of making informed design and copy decisions based on real-world analytics.

Some of the most direct advantages that you can gain from split testing include:

Better user engagement. Something as small as the size and color of your CTA button can have a huge impact on email engagement. A/B testing lets you see which option garners the most clicks — so you can focus solely on features that are most geared toward audience conversion.

Better conversion rates. Speaking of engagement, the more you can get your audience to engage, the more you can get them to convert. With A/B testing, you can hone in on the content and design features that lead to more conversions — and avoid those that don’t.

Better use of analytics. Looking at your data is one thing; understanding what it means is another. And if you’re not A/B testing, you’re not digging deep enough into what matters. Split testing takes out some key variables, so you don’t have to wonder quite as much about why your email marketing is (or isn’t) performing.

Putting A/B testing into Practice

A/B testing might sound like a daunting task, but it’s not all that different from what you’re already doing. The difference is that instead of just putting together your email and hoping it resonates, you’re putting together two slightly modified versions of an email and then comparing the outcomes.

There are some best practices that you’ll want to note as you embark on your tests.

1. For starters, choose just one variable to test. If you modify more than one, you won’t know what feature is making the difference when you go to compare.

2. Likewise, have a goal in mind. Know what you’re trying to achieve — whether it’s a higher open rate, a higher click-through rate, or more conversions — and use that to guide the variable that you test.

3. In terms of audience, split your contacts into random, equal groups. The benefit of dividing randomly is that there aren’t likely to be other factors at play affecting outcomes, such as demographics or location in the funnel. If you do want to test out a feature with a specific group, focus on that segment only and then divide from there.

4. And finally, test your emails at the same time. You don’t want other factors such as date and time of sending to impact your results since when you send emails is just as significant as what you include in them.

How Email Marketing Software Can Help

The fastest and easiest way to do A/B testing is to utilize email automation and marketing software. Not only does it make it easier to divide your groups and create multiple templates of the same email — it’s also a one-stop-shop for gathering data on your outcomes.

As for other A/B testing tools, so long as you’re using an email marketing platform that provides the service, you won’t have to worry about investing in another piece of software. That’s good news for your budget, as well as for your timeline.

If you have the existing software but aren’t sure how to get started with A/B testing, contact a customer service rep who can guide you through the process. Or, reach out to us directly, and we’d be happy to chat with you about how our email marketing software can help you test your emails and send effective campaigns to your subscribers.