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Try These 6 A/B Tests Today to Increase Your Email Open Rates

By Amanda Leclair

Try These 6 A/B Tests Today to Increase Your Email Open Rates

try-these-6-a-b-test-today-to-increase-your-email-open-rates.jpg184 unread emails - are you kidding me?!

After taking a little vacay, that is what I found in my inbox. Needless to say, I was not happy having to weed through them all.

To speed up the process, I looked at two things: the sender and the subject line.

If the email wasn’t from Grandma, it got deleted. If the subject line wasn’t punny or about a birthday coupon, it got deleted.

This type of speed deleting is something everyone with an email address can relate to (and if you say you’ve never done it - you’re lying).

As a business or Marketer, however, this act is a surefire email campaign killer and one that you must strive to avoid.

With this goal in mind, here are 6 A/B tests you can try right now on your emails to help increase your open and click-through rates.

Test #1: Subject Lines

With the overwhelming amount of emails hitting people’s inbox daily, your subject line is often the one component standing between your email getting opened or thrown in the trash.

Testing your subject lines will give you a deeper insight into what intrigues your recipients and what makes them click.

Once you’ve learned that information, you can tailor future email campaigns in a tone you know will pique their interest, giving you great results from the get-go.

How to Get Started. Begin testing out different variations of your subject line to see what clicks with your recipients. Here are a few tactics that have been known to engage readers and increase open rates:

  • Shorten it to under 10 characters
  • Turn it into a question
  • Incorporate some humor (who doesn’t love a good pun, am I right?)
  • Keep it explicitly clear what they will receive by clicking
  • Hint at an incentive
  • Use the recipient’s name in the subject line


Test #2: The Sender

Before diving into the meat of your emails, take a look at who the sender is. Seeing a generic “ABC Company” or “noreply” as the sender often sends up red flags that more than likely that email is SPAM or worse yet, self-promotional.

People like connecting with people. By using the name and address of a real person on your team, you personalize an automated experience and humanize your brand.

How to Get Started. Test a variety of sender names. Like HubSpot does below, keep some of your emails from the company, while others are sent from team members when appropriate:


You can also test if adding your company name alongside your team members (like below) will help get those emails opened.

Here are a few variations to give a shot:

  • Amanda Leclair
  • Amanda from IMPACT
  • Amanda Leclair, IMPACT
  • Amanda

Note: Your audience's response to a name may take a few tests or variations to gauge (especially with other factors like subject line and message coming into play.) Make sure to give them multiple tries before counting one out.

Test #3: Delivery Time

Timing is everything. It’s vital to determining when your recipients are most receptive to engaging with your email campaigns.

By A/B testing delivery times (including the date, day, hour, etc.) you’ll be able to send email campaigns at peak times increasing open rates and click-throughs.

How to Get Started. Look at your buyer persona’s day to day activity. Based on that information, begin testing times you think they’ll be most active and receptive to the action prompted by your email.

You can also begin testing based off of research others have done and work from there. Here are some important findings that Kissmetrics learned about email timing:

  • Subscribers are unlikely to open marketing emails during lunch (from noon to 2pm)
  • Open rates are highest in the early morning (about 6 am)
  • Bounce rates are highest during the weekend (.11%)
  • The best sending frequency is between 1 and 4 emails per month

Test #4: The Greeting!

I love opening an email and seeing, “Good morning Amanda! Hope you’re ready for the great day ahead” -- others may not.

Your greeting sets the tone for the rest of the email and if your recipients find it offputting, it could potentially lead them to trash your email before reading anything more.

How to Get Started. Test out different ways to say hello based on how your recipient’s normally speak. Take a look at comments, Twitter feeds, or email correspondence to see how they typically communicate and emulate that tone. It will be more likely to resonate with them and probe action.

Here are a few examples I see in my inbox daily:




Now’s also a great time to test out personalization if you aren’t already doing so. When writing your greeting, try adding your recipient’s name into it. Test it against a more formal greeting to gauge how your recipients prefer to be addressed.

Test #5: Content Length

So people are opening your emails like they’re going out of style, but what happens if they aren’t clicking through?

One factor that could be playing a part in this problem is length. At some point or another, we’ve all gotten a really long email, and clicked delete about halfway through.

Sometimes the content isn’t interesting, and other times you just can’t afford the 20 minutes to get through it.

How to Get Started. Test out how many words you really need to get your point across to your recipients. Do you need 200 words or can you do it in 20? Always keep in mind that as long as your email is clear, concise, and compelling, the quality of your email will always trump the quantity.

Ask yourself these 3 questions to help determine what the correct length of your email should be:

  1. Who are you sending it to?
  2. What are you talking about?
  3. What kind of email is it?

If your email still ends up being lengthy, try breaking up the text to make it easy to read. Use paragraphs, bullet points, and images. In fact, according to HubSpot, 65% of people prefer emails that contain mostly images versus mostly text.

Test #6: The CTA

First, let me ask you this. Are you even using a call-to-action in your emails? If you’re not, give it a shot!

Campaign Monitor found that by using a button-based CTA increased their click-through rate by 28% over a link-based CTA.

If you are using one, and it doesn’t really seem to be doing much, test variations of the button you are already using.

How to Get Started. Specifically look at the aesthetics and copy of your button. Working together, these two aspects will create an effective CTA.

Examine the following parts of your button:

  1. Copy - It should be specific and actionable, encouraging the recipient to act
  2. Size - Make it larger than your text to draw attention to it
  3. Design - Use shadows and other effects to make it “pop” off the page
  4. Color - Use a color different from that of the background and text to draw the eye to it
  5. Whitespace - Set it apart from the other elements in your email to create less distraction

Once you’ve found out the wording that gets your email recipients to click, try taking that variation and incorporating it into other CTAs on your site. The people who have subscribed to your emails are the same people frequenting your website. If it worked one place, it may work in another.

Key Takeaway:

Keep in mind, that this information is just a starting point to begin A/B testing emails.

Your buyer personas are unique to you, your business, and your industry so the adage, “What works for one, may not work for another” rings very true.

That’s why it’s imperative you start and keep testing until you find what works best for your recipients.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit email gold right away. It may take some time and multiple variations to find out what will help you increase your open and click-through rate results.

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.


Marketing Strategy
Published on July 27, 2015

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