How to Use Multivariate Testing for Email Marketing

Ever wonder if testing different variations of copy, calls to action (CTA), or product images in email marketing campaigns is a waste of time. You might be thinking that if one element works well in isolation, then it’s redundant to test it in combination with other elements in a campaign. You might be right. However, sometimes getting the right answer isn’t as easy as it seems. The truth is, there’s no concrete answer to how many variations should be tested in email marketing. It depends on a variety of factors. If you can’t answer this question yourself, then you should probably be testing several variations to begin with. This article will discuss three reasons why you should use multivariate testing in your email marketing strategy, as well as tips on how to get started. Keep reading.

Reasons To Test Variations

First, let’s discuss the advantages of testing variations in your email marketing strategy. As previously mentioned, the ideal campaign will generate the right results from the very first email to the last follow-up. This means that every part of the email, including the subject line, the introductory text, and the call-to-action (CTA) must work well together. Another way of saying this is that you want to make sure that each part of the email performs optimally when tested in isolation. For example, if you want to test the effect of different font styles on click-through rates (CTR), then you would only test those fonts in isolation, as opposed to all fonts combined (sans-serif, serif, or cursive). This would make your testing much more specific.

Let’s say you’re creating an email campaign to promote a new product, and you want to determine the effect that email subject lines have on click-through rates. One way of doing this would be to test different subject lines on a single piece of mail, so you can discern which one is the most effective. Even though you are testing only one element, you are actually gaining a lot of knowledge about the subject line in isolation. To test this, you would need to create several versions of the subject line, and then test each version individually in an A/B experiment. This way, you can find out which subject line performs the best. Once you know this, you can decide which one to use for the entire campaign.

Specificity Vs. Intuition

Second, let’s discuss the difference between specificity and intuition. Specificity is the ability to recognize or identify a thing precisely. So, in the example above, if you are able to identify that a particular font works well with a particular subject line and you have perfect recall of this information, then you would have a high degree of specificity. Intuition is the ability to make a judgment or decision based on existing knowledge or experience, rather than on precise and objective data. So, in the example above, if you know that subjects with a dot product logo perform well, and you have a lot of historical performance data to back this up, then you would likely have a high degree of intuition.

Whether you are testing font styles, subject lines, or calls to action, you need to decide how you will measure the success of each variation. For example, if you are testing a specific font for use in a subject line and you notice that it significantly increases click-through rates, then you would know that this is the right choice for your audience. However, if the opposite is true and the specific font causes a significant decrease in click-through rates, then you should probably try another option. It’s all about having the right data to back up your decision, and in this case, you have the data to support your hypothesis. You also have the advantage of learning from the results of your specific experiment. This is why multivariate testing is such a powerful tool. You can start with a simple test, such as A/B testing, and then determine the most suitable variation based on the results of your initial test.

What About History?

Third and finally, let’s discuss the importance of looking at historical data. You can’t discuss modern email marketing without acknowledging the role that statistics and digital research play in every aspect of the strategy. While it’s easy to point to a specific result that you want from your email marketing campaign, it’s often more instructive to look at historical performance. Why? Because trends change, and to know what will work now, you need to look at its history.

In the example above, you will recall that the subject line with the dot product logo had superior performance when tested in isolation. However, if you compare this to other subject lines that you have tested in the past, you will notice that it doesn’t behave the same in every situation. Sometimes a sales letter with an image performs better than the same text-based version, and sometimes the opposite is true. Looking at history is crucial because it allows you to see what has worked in the past, and what will work in the future. For example, if you want to know if using an image with a sales letter will improve click-through rates, then you should look at what has worked in the past and determine whether or not this will continue to work in the present.

As you can see, there are several advantages to multivariate testing, which is why it’s important to incorporate this strategy into your email marketing program. Not only will you be able to find the best combination of variables to send to your subscribers, you will also be able to find the right answer to the question: How many variations should be tested? More importantly, you will know why each variation performed as it did, which in turn will allow you to replicate success when creating future campaigns. So, while there is no definite answer to how many variations you should test, you should certainly test several options, so you can determine which one will work best for your company.

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