(AWeber just released a new split testing feature that allows you to test more than just your subject lines — like send times, copy, templates, buttons, and more! Try it out today for FREE.)
Too often, people focus almost exclusively on subject line split testing. They optimize their subject lines and boost open rates. However, they rarely split test the content inside their emails.
This is a big mistake. After all, a high open rate doesn’t matter if subscribers don’t read the content inside your email and take action.
There are simple email content split tests that can have a big impact, like these 6 easy split tests.
1. Headline vs. no headline
Does having a bold and colorful headline at the top of your email content grab your subscribers’ attention and keep them reading?
To find out, send two emails — one with a eye-catching headline and one without a headline.
For example, let’s say you’re a fitness blogger, and you’re sending an email about the five stretches you recommend before a workout. You could run a split test with one email variant that has no headline and one email variant with a headline at the top of the email content that says, “5 pre-workout stretches to prevent injuries.”
Pro tip: Like the email template from the example above? It's called Wane Light and you can find it in your AWeber account. (Don't have AWeber? Try it out free for 30 days.)
2. Personal salutation vs. no salutation
Do your subscribers like to feel that your emails were written specifically for them? Run a split test to find out!
Try using their first name in the salutation of your email (for example, “Dear John,” “Hi John,” “How’s it going, John,” etc.) and see if you get a higher click-through rate. You can also incorporate someone’s name at the end of a sentence or in another natural (yet unexpected!) place in your email.
Pro tip: If you have an AWeber account, you can easily add a first name to your email subject line or content to personalize your messages.
3. Images vs. no images
Are your subscribers visual people that like images in their emails? Or, do images distract them from your content and call-to-action?
Curious what call-to-action yields the most clicks?
Unsure whether to use images or GIFs?
There’s a simple way to find out once and for all: Split test your emails.
What is a split test?
Split testing (or A/B testing) is a method by which you can scientifically test the effectiveness of your email marketing.
When split testing, you create two versions (called variants) of an email to determine which email statistically performs better. Once you find which email variant performs best, you can update your email strategy to include the winning email. This allows you to identify what emails engage your subscribers best, which can ultimately help you increase conversions and revenue.
(Is your small business or nonprofit making an impact beyond the inbox? Want to make an even bigger impact? Tell us how, and you could win $20,000 from AWeber. Click here to learn more!)
Why you need to test your emails
Split testing is an effective way to find out what’s working and what’s not in your email marketing. Rather than assuming your customers would prefer one kind of email over another, you can run a split test to find out in a methodical way.
The more you split test, the more information you’ll have on hand for your future emails. And while a once-and-done test, or even an occasional test, can yield information that will expand your marketing knowledge, regular testing can provide you with a successful email marketing strategy.
Related: 6 Email Split Tests You Can Set Up in 1 Minute
4 best practices to get started
1. Test one element at a time.
Never test more than one change at a time. Have a control email that remains the same and a variant with one change — like a different color CTA button, or a different coupon offer — you want to test. If you have multiple variables, it’ll become difficult to identify which one caused a positive or negative result.
For instance, let’s say you’re a blogger who writes about gardening. You decide to split test an email’s subject line to improve your open rates. The goal of your split test is to discover if longer, descriptive subject lines or shorter, direct subject lines perform better. You also want to see if including a subscriber’s first name in your subject line will increase your open rate.
So you write two variant subject lines:
But what happens when the camera stops rolling or after you walk off stage is even more important. How do you continue to engage your audience and drive them to action?
The answer: email marketing.
With email marketing, you can continue to build upon the relationship you formed during your speech and create a stronger connection with your audience.
During our recent webinar with speaking pro Michael Port, he shared his secrets to building an email list from speaking events.
Port has inspired audiences from the stage for more than a decade. He was a professional actor. Now, he’s the founder of Heroic Public Speaking and coaches some of the world’s best speakers.
Below, learn Michael’s 3-step system for building an email list with your speaking opportunities.
(Want to watch the entire recording of Port’s webinar? Register here.)
1. Create a curiosity gap.
People tend to take action when they have a desire to achieve or learn something. You can create this desire (and use it grow your list) with a curiosity gap.
A curiosity gap is when there is a void between what someone knows and what they want to know. And according to Port, it’s important to create one with every speaking opportunity you have because it’s what drives your audience to take action.
To create a curiosity gap, answer the “what” and “why,” but don’t give your audience the “how” yet. You want them to think, “That sounds awesome! But how do I do that?"
Here’s an example: A sign up form is a tool that allows you to easily collect subscribers. By optimizing your sign up form, you can triple your subscriber growth and double your revenue.
By creating a curiosity gap, you’ve now piqued their interest. You’re ready to move to the next step: filling the gap with a tool or resource.
2. Fill the gap with a tool or resource.
Once you’ve created a curiosity gap and your audience is looking for a solution, give them a tool or resource to fill the gap and satisfy their need or desire. (In step 3, we'll explain how to deliver this tool or resource to your audience from the stage.)
When creating your tool or resource, Port suggests staying away from denser pieces of content, like ebooks, white papers, and reports. In his experience...
The reality is: Getting subscribers is hard work. That’s also why according to Ascend2, 54% of marketers say that growing their list of email subscribers is a top marketing priority.
You want quality email subscribers, and you want more of them, but the question is: How do you find them? Better yet, how do you make sure they stick around?
Ready to reach 1,000 (or more!) email subscribers? Follow the plan below.
(You can also sign up for our FREE email list growth course. Learn how to grow your list in under 1 hour!)
Craft a better email newsletter
First things first: To effectively grow your subscriber list, you want to make sure you’re always sending your best content. Before you send out your next email newsletter, it’s a good idea to take a step back and evaluate what’s currently working and what’s not.
Related: How to Create an Irresistible Email Newsletter (Plus, 19 Newsletter Examples for Inspiration!)
According to the Direct Marketing Association, the four most important email marketing metrics are:
Click-through rate (CTR)
Having a good grasp of how your emails are performing (based on these metrics) will not only ensure you’re providing value, but that your subscribers will also continue to open your emails.
An easy way to identify your top-performing content is to review your email newsletter analytics. Pay attention to the emails that not only received the highest number of opens and clicks.
Related: Subject Line Formulas You Can Steal to Boost Your Open Rates
Are there certain types of content that get more clicks than others? Is there a section that has barely been touched by subscribers? Take note of these trends for future planning. Of course, your subscribers won’t want to see the same articles and information in every email, so it’s best to create new content and support it with older pieces where applicable.
After you have a handle on what’s working and what isn’t with your current newsletter, use your findings to create an even better one. As you begin to gather more data on your subscribers and understand what they like to see, you’ll be able to tailor your emails to...
In fact, I have a bunch sitting unopened in my inbox right now. The sender is hoping to catch my attention, so we can work together in a way that grows their business.
But here's the cold, hard truth: I won't reply to the majority of these messages. I'll put most in my trash folder.
The Most Important Lesson of Sending Outreach Emails
When I first started out in sales 15 years ago, my outreach emails were also ineffective at driving action. I was wasting my time writing messages that ended up in people's trash folders.
That was, until I learned one important lesson: The true goal of any email outreach is to build meaningful relationships with the person you’re hoping to contact. It isn't to bombard them with offers until they magically decide to purchase from or collaborate with you.
Once I realized this, my outreach emails started to get opened. Since then, I've scored business opportunities with everyone from startup founders to Fortune 500 executives. I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.
That's why I put together relationship-building email templates inside our product at Close.io. These templates help hundreds of thousands of sales professionals increase their open rates, start more conversations, and drive more sales.
So whether you’re looking to secure a spot as a contributor for a major online publication, book yourself on someone else’s podcast, or land your next big client, outreach emails are a necessity in today's business world. Follow my 5 tips below to learn how to effectively write them so they don't end up in someone's trash folder.
(Heads up: An outreach email is different than email marketing. You send an outreach email to a single recipient who has no prior relationship with you. Email marketing, on the other hand, is a message sent to a mass audience that has opted-in to receive your content.)
1. Use mutual connections
Did you know that 92 percent of people trust referrals and recommendations that come from people they know?
When sending outreach emails, remember that you’re probably not the only one emailing with a similar request. (Let alone the only one pitching them that very same day.) So whenever possible, leverage your personal or professional connections who have a more direct...
“My feelings about newsletters are strong. It’s the one enduring place that we have as marketers, and it’s the place where conversations are most intimate,” Handley says, noting that subscribers voluntarily opt in to your newsletter and choose to receive your emails. “[Newsletters] are 100% effective and they’re still the backbone of so many content marketing efforts."
Yet, in 2017, she sent only four newsletters. She missed talking directly to her audience on a regular basis.
That's why she knew it was time to approach her newsletter differently. Handley wanted something she was excited to send, and that her subscribers would be excited to open.
So in January 2018, Handley unveils her TotalAnnarchy newsletter. It was unlike any other email she had sent before.
And it's one of our must-read newsletters.
During my interview with Handley, she explains the format of her revamped newsletter, how to gauge if your newsletter is successful, and her writing process for crafting effective emails fast.
What is TotalAnnarchy?
TotalAnnarchy is sent every other week, and it's filled with curated content for marketers, writers, and content creators.
Handley begins each TotalAnnarchy email with a long-form essay on one topic — like Mr. Rogers, the words people hate, and even her battle with the squirrels who are eating her tomato plants. She follows this essay with content pieces she thinks are worth sharing that week, like the most common grammar mistakes people make.
Each newsletter is riveting, valuable, and beautifully written.
How to determine if your newsletter is successful
Every great newsletter helps its subscribers. It educates, amuses, or provides some kind of value. But how do you know if your subscribers are actually finding value in your emails? Email analytics and qualitative data (like responses from your subscribers) can help. For Handley, there are four email health indicators she examines to determine if her newsletter was a success on a given week:
1. Welcome email responses
When someone subscribes to...