Cold emails form an important part of a B2B lead generation and marketing strategy. But cold emails are no secret codes to success. When you’re doing outreach through cold emails, you need to have a strategy in place. But the key here is to ensure that your emails appeal to the receivers. The only way to find this out is through A/B testing them.

A/B testing helps you find out what exactly gets most of your receivers to open your email and take the action that you want them to. This makes it a critical component of cold email outreach that helps in optimizing your emails for better results.

So, how can you perform A/B testing on your emails?

Let’s find out.

How to do A/B Testing for Your Cold Emails

A/B testing is an elaborate process that’s aimed at testing each element of your email like subject line, email body, call-to-action (CTA), and more, to figure out what works the best. Based on these tests for every element, you’ll be able to find the best combination for your cold emails.

So, let’s dive right into how you can do it.

1. Setup a Champion and Challenger System

If you’ve already been conducting cold email outreach for a while now, you may have an email that’s performed the best. You need to fix this email and all its elements as “champions” as they’ve given you the best results until now.

Then, you need to pick up each element and come up with a few alternatives. Each of these would be a challenger that would “challenge” the champion.

The idea is to test out each variant of the elements while keeping all the other elements constant. If it’s the challenger that outperforms the champion, it’ll become the champion. But if the champion performs better, you can move on to another challenger and conduct the same test again.

Think of them as two gladiators (one reigning champion and the other, a challenger) battling it out for you to determine which one’s better.

champion challenger a/b testing strategy

This champion-challenger or A/B test is a continuous process. You need to go on testing regularly so that you can constantly improve your results.

2. Test Subject Lines

Subject lines are extremely important for all emails, especially cold emails. You won’t be a known sender for the email receiver and this means that you need to try harder to get their attention. As a result, the only element that will determine if the email will be opened or not would be your subject line.

After all, don’t we all want to stay away from spammy emails that seem to “shout” at you, like the one below?

Example of a spammy subject line

That’s why you need to A/B test your subject lines continuously to figure out which ones are delivering the best open rates. The idea is to intrigue your receivers and grab their attention so that they open your emails.

The Hustle does a good job at this. All their emails have catchy subject lines that instantly grab the attention of the receivers and nudge them to open them.

Some of the variations that you can use are:

Subject Line Length

  • Short
  • Long

Capitalization

  • Title Case
  • Uppercase
  • Lowercase
  • Sentence Case

Subject Line Components

  • Emojis
  • Personalized Words (Name, Company Name, etc.)
  • Promotional Words

3. Test Email Body

The email body is yet another important element of cold emails and it determines if the receivers will dwell on your email long enough to see the call-to-action (CTA)

Just like the subject lines, you’ll also need to use the champion and challenger method for A/B testing the body of your email.

The idea is to come up with the most engaging cold email possible.

Some of the aspects that you can vary across the email body are:

Body Length

  • Short
  • Long

Tone

  • Humorous
  • Casual
  • Conversational
  • Serious, etc.

Personalization

  • Name
  • Product Choices
  • Addressing Their Problem, etc.

Visuals

  • Images
  • Videos
  • GIFs
  • Infographics, etc.

4. Write Informed Conclusions

Finally, the conclusions of your emails are essential elements and need to be extensively A/B tested to figure out which ones work the best.

That’s because this is the spot where you’re going to put up your CTA which will determine if all your efforts until now will bear fruit or go in vain.

The email’s conclusion needs to be crisp and actionable so that the readers get inclined to take the action that you want them to. Similarly, the CTA needs to be just as attractive to get them to click on it.

Some of the elements of the CTA that you can vary are:

  • Position
  • Button/Text
  • Button/Text color
  • Color of text in the button
  • CTA text content

For instance, note how Rachel from HubSpot has sent a cold email to set up an appointment. The CTA in this particular email is a text CTA that’s placed above the fold. It’s also colored blue to make it pop out. Finally, the text content clearly describes what the receiver would be doing on clicking it.

A/B Testing: An Example

A great example of an A/B tested email is one from Shane Snow. He sent out an email to 1000 executives and A/B tested various elements to figure out which ones gave the best results possible. Here’s the email he used:

Image via Fast Company

He A/B tested the email’s subject line to figure out which one had a greater impact on the receivers. The two subject lines he used were:

  • Quick Question
  • 15 Second Question for Research on Annoying Emails

This had a direct impact on the email open rates. 51.2% of the receivers opened the email with the shorter subject line. On the other hand, only 48.8% of the receivers opened the email that had the longer subject line.

The subject lines also had an impact on the action taken by the receivers. About 66.7% of all the replies came from those emails that had the shorter subject line as compared to 33.3% for the longer one.

Final Thoughts on A/B Testing

A/B testing is an integral part of any email marketing strategy and if you’re not doing it, you’re not utilizing your marketing budget to its full potential. You need to adopt the champion/challenger framework and start optimizing your subject lines, email body, and CTAs to get more clicks and revenue.

However, we know that this process can be challenging, especially with other marketing tasks. That’s why we have a team of experts who can help put your plan together and optimize your email campaigns. So, reach out to us now.

Shira Simmonds

Author Shira Simmonds

More posts by Shira Simmonds

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