Email Testing 101: Making Insightful Decisions Based on Email Marketing Data

Marketing is constantly evolving as customer trends evolve. With constant change, comes an obsessive need to evaluate and test your marketing tactics to make sure that what you’re putting your time and resources into is worth it!

That’s where A/B and multivariate testing comes in.

One of the great things about marketing automation is the enormous amount of data at your disposal to test and analyze.

Whether it’s the email you’re sending or the landing page you’re driving to, there’s a near endless list of things you can test to determine the best way forward. From subject lines to call-to-action buttons to the time of day you send the email – the sky’s the limit!

Here’s a chart from MarketSherpa of just some of the various elements you can test.

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All of these elements, and more, can be utilized in an A/B testing or multivariate testing campaign.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between each testing method and best practices for starting to implement testing in your Marketo campaigns.

A/B Testing

Sometimes referred to as Split testing, A/B Testing is pretty much exactly how it sounds. You take one element of an email or landing page and change it between two versions. For example, you send the exact same email with two different subject lines, and compare open rates between subject line A and B.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing is a more complex version of A/B testing. With multivariate testing, each group will see a different mix of components (images, buttons, colors, etc) to compare a wider range of options. While more complicated, and requiring a larger sample size to send to, with Marketo, you can easily duplicate and swap elements in your emails and landing pages to test.

Best Practices for Testing Your Marketo Email Campaigns and Landing Pages

So now that you know the difference between A/B testing and Multivariate testing, how do you get started implementing these techniques in your marketing strategy so you can start marketing more effectively? Here’s a few best practices to get you started:

    1. Document, document, document
      Especially as your testing methods get more complicated, make sure you have a master spreadsheet tracking what you tested and the results between tests (and ideally linking to the emails) so you can always take a step back and evaluate from a high level. This will help you as you get further along your tests and are ready to analyze the data so you can apply new standards across all your Marketo assets!
    2. Start small at first
      If you’re new to testing, start with A/B testing before growing to larger multivariate tests. It doesn’t take much extra resources to write a couple extra subject lines or use a few different emails. Just make sure you’re keeping your emails the exact same (down to the from name/email and time of day you send) except for the one element you’re testing, otherwise you’ll get into more complicated territory!
    3. Make sure your audience corresponds to your tests
      Sending out emails to a small group of partners? Or an internal user group? Maybe not the best time to test out different elements. You want to make sure you have a large enough sample size to truly get insight into the data.
    4. Don’t forget about the other important tests: like email rendering
      It’s difficult to get the full picture of what’s working and not working in your email and landing pages if your audience is having issues viewing or loading them! Use Litmus or another email rendering tool to test all of your assets before you send so you can make sure it is viewable across email platforms, browsers, and so on.
    5. Make decisions based on your data
      It may go without saying, but make sure you’re taking the time to look at the data and make decisions based on it! It’s no use testing if you’re not going to use those insights to change up your strategy for the better in the future.

Interested in learning more about A/B and multivariate testing in Marketo? Check out this recent webinar from the Marketo team, or better yet, reach out directly to our team for a consultation on how you can use your data to amp up your email marketing, and ultimately see more results!

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