There are an estimated 247 billion emails sent per day. You may be thinking to yourself, “That’s a big number, how do I set my practice apart and ensure my marketing emails are opened and read?” Creating a strong email marketing campaign takes time, practice, and A LOT of testing. In this space, testing emails is referred to as A/B testing. It’s when you compare the results of version one “Email A” against version two “Email B.”
When A/B testing your email campaigns, the goal is to find what works best for your intended audience. You want to set measurable, actionable goals and work to get your patients to convert. You can measure things such as click-through rates, number of registrants for an event, number of scheduled appointments or anything else in between.
Now you may be thinking, “Cool that’s all great but what do I A/B test to meet my goals?” Don’t fret, we have several things you can do to A/B test your emails and start working towards those email marketing goals.
How to A/B Test
When A/B testing, you’ll want to segment your targeted list (how this is done can vary depending on what marketing software you use). For your test email, we recommend starting with a small subset of your list. Depending on your list size, 100 people is a good place to start; you can send 50 people version A and 50 people version B, giving you a large enough data set to measure your results. After your test is complete you can pick whichever email performed best to send to the remaining list.
Below are five different ways you can get started with your A/B testing:
- Subject Lines – When testing subject lines, it’s important to ensure that the body of the email is exactly the same in email A and email B. That way, you can be sure that you’re only measuring the success of the subject line without any other variables. Your subject line is a place for you to show off your practices creativity, don’t be shy about being funny, punny, silly, serious or anything in between.
- For example, subject line A could read: When was your last dental checkup? Subject line B could read: 82% of people forget to schedule their dental checkups. Don’t be that guy.
- Time of Day – There are many studies out there that tell you when the best time to send an email is. I’ve done my research, and found that there is not a universal truth of the best time to send, it’s all about your industry and your targeted audience. For time of day, you’ll want to send the same email at various times throughout the day.
- For example, if you’re sending outpatient recall emails, we recommend sending your first batch between 5 AM and 8 AM. Then your second batch between 1 PM and 3 PM. Finally, your third batch between 6 PM and 8 PM (hopefully you have an automated system so you can schedule these in advance!) Once you schedule these emails, you can go back and see which time chunk received the most opens. Once you have your data, you can test this for a few months and find the meantime to send patient recall emails.
- Call to Action Buttons – The next A/B test you can run is to measure the efficiency of your Call to Action (CTA) buttons. A CTA button is the button that you include in your email prompting your audience to click. Common CTA’s include “Learn More”, “Click Here”, “Register Here”, “Count Me In”, etc. When testing your CTA’s, you need to find a way to say the same thing in a different vernacular.
- For example, for email A you could write “Learn More” and in email B your CTA could read “Find Out.” After sending out both email A and B, you can check to see which email had a higher click-through rate. Remember, make sure to keep your subject line and email the same, you want to make sure your test is being attributed to the one thing being tested.
- Call to Action Button Color – Not only can you test your CTA’s verbiage but you can also test the color of the button. Button color may seem like it wouldn’t matter but studies have shown that the color red, for example, provokes people to take immediate action whereas a blue button doesn’t provoke an immediate response.
- For example, you should try keeping your button colors on-brand with your practice. Let’s say your practice colors are green and blue. Email A could have a green button and email b could have a blue button. You’ll want to see which emails had more clicks to determine if the blue button or green button was more effective.
- Mostly Images vs Mostly Text – Let’s say it’s your 10-year anniversary of being in practice and you’re hosting a happy hour at your practice. Sending out two different invites with varying content could help you determine the type of email your patients respond to best.
- For example, email A could have an image of you holding balloons with simple text saying “Join Us” with the date and time, whereas email B, could be a long-form letter personally inviting them to attend your event. Depending on your age demographic, different types of email formats could appeal to one group and not the other. It’s nice to run a mostly-image vs mostly-text test a handful of times.
Now that you have a place to start with what to test, let’s talk about best practices for A/B testing.
- Only Test One Element at a Time – Make sure you indicate which test is being run on your marketing calendar. You want to make sure you’re only testing one element at a time. If you test more than one element, you won’t be able to know which works better. Was it the time of day or the subject line? Be strategic with your testing!
- Keep it Simple – Testing doesn’t need to be difficult. We recommend starting with subject lines, you can play around with what you say and how you say it. Keep it fun and enjoy the results you get from testing your marketing campaigns. Make them work for you and your practice!
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – While your tests can vary, we recommend running the same type of test for a solid month or two, so you can gather concrete data about what works best for your email campaigns.
- Listen to Your Results – Your results are an indicator of what types of email elements your targeted audience response to. If no one opened a 5 AM email send, don’t send it at 5 AM! Remember to adapt and use the data you get from your results to your advantage.
A/B testing is a small piece of your email marketing campaign, but when done right it can make a big impact on your engagement. Remember, email marketing should be used to increase patient communication and engagement!
– Alexis Mallos, Senior Marketing Manager, Sesame Communications