Split Testing 101

#10 in Our 20 for 20 Series

How do you know the best time to send email?

What kind of subject lines are best?

Will people respond more to my name or my company’s name?

These are very important questions, grasshopper, and I’m going to answer them for you.

Welcome to 20 for 20 where we share our 20 Best Tips for Email Marketing and Business to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.

Today I want to demystify the subject of split testing. What is it? Split testing is just a fancy way of saying “let’s run an experiment.” Let’s say you took the advice from our last email and wrote 10 subject lines for your message (great idea!). You’ve narrowed it down to two that both seem awesome even though they’re different—how do you choose which one to use? That’s easy—use split testing.

Here’s how it works. Most advanced email marketing software or service providers like us can set up an email to try out BOTH your subject lines on your audience. Let’s say you have 10,000 people on your list. You can send, say, 1,500 one subject line, 1,500 the other subject line, and then measure the results. The winning subject line will get sent to the other 7,000 people on your list. The software handles the send logistics to make sure that random samples are seeing each subject line, and it keeps track so readers don’t get two messages.

Another use for split testing is you may not know what time of day, or even days of the week, your audience is most likely to respond. Don’t just guess—use a split test to find out.

By the way, you don’t want to just use ONE split test and make sweeping assumptions. Make sure you test your conclusion a couple of times before you start sending ALL your broadcasts on Sunday nights.

What’s the difference between split testing, AB testing, and multivariate testing? Essentially nothing. They are all the same concept. We can actually test up to 8 different variables (if you REALLY can’t pick a subject line) and that’s just a more complicated split test.

One note of caution when you start using split testing—be sure to brush up on your statistics so you understand what “statistically significant” and “small sample bias” actually mean. Hint—don’t send a split to too small of a sample and start making crazy conclusions.

I hope this has helped you understand what split testing is and why you’d want to use it—go out there and try some experiments.

But before I go, we always give something away during our 20 for 20 and this episode is no different—congratulations to W. Haynie for winning this week’s prize, which is a free 20-minute audit of your email campaign. Contact us for details on how to claim your prize and thanks for listening.

If you’re interested in discussing our service, the first step is to book a free 20-minute consultation to see if we might be a good fit for you.

Stay tuned for next time when I talk about Brand Voice. Yes, your brand has a voice—and I hope it’s the one you intended.

In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our 20 for 20 campaign if you haven’t done so already. BONUS: You’ll also receive our Top 5 Mistakes Almost All Businesses Make with Their Email Marketing.

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