10 A/B Tests for Boosting Email Open Rates

sherrychao
Sherry Chao Marketing Director and Customer Happiness Officer , Iterable

Posted on April 28th 2014

10 A/B Tests for Boosting Email Open Rates

Open rates is one of the most important metrics of email marketing. Your emails contain important information; they deliver news about transactional info, money-saving promotions, new product arrivals, and helpful business updates. But unless your emails are opened, your subscribers will never realize the true value of your messages. A great way to boost your open rates is to run A/B experiments. But what elements should you test? To answer that question, let’s first review what actually affects your open rates.

  1. Send time: What time are you landing in their inbox?

The best send time will vary greatly by industry. For example, B2B businesses may benefit from sending emails during business hours, whereas consumer brands can send emails earlier in the day for customers to read during their morning commute, or later at night, when people are relaxing on the couch with their iPads. The only way to find the best send time for your company is to test it.

  1. Sender name: Who is sending the email?

A personal sender name can definitely improve your open rates. Wrapp, an Iterable client, performed a simple A/B test comparing four different sender names, and the results were eye-opening. The friendly sender name “Lisa from Wrapp” outperformed the sender names “H&M via Wrapp”, “H&M on Wrapp”, “Wrapp” and “Sura from Wrapp” (control).  By using the optimized sender name, Wrapp was able to boost open rates from 11.85% to 20.35%, a 71.83% improvement!

  1. Subject line: A brief description of the email content.

Convince subscribers to open your email by using descriptive, attention-grabbing copy that conveys a sense of urgency. Personalization with the person’s name or adding in numeric values (e.g. “Save $25 now!” or “Your $10 coupon is waiting”) can help to further drive opens.

  1. Preheader: The 80-120 characters message following the subject to provide more info on the email.

The preheader is the often-neglected text after the subject line that is visible in the inbox. Treat it as a bonus space for providing a sneak peak into your email and getting subscribers excited about the message inside. Don’t waste it on asking subscribers to follow you on social media or asking if they “have trouble viewing this email”.

When optimizing for opens with A/B tests, make sure to play around with these 4 elements to see what works. Here are 10 A/B testing variation ideas for maximizing opens.

1. Varying send times. (9 am vs. 12 pm)

2. Sending on different days of the week. (Wednesday vs. Saturday)

3. Using an individual name as sender.

lyft

4. Using an individual name with their title as the sender.

Screenshot 2014-03-21 17.53.14 (1)

5. Varying subject/preheader length.

6. Adding personalization to subject/preheader 

gap

7. Varying capital and lower case letters in subject/preheader to highlight certain words.

allegiant

8. Adding numerical values to subject/preheader.

travelzoo

9. Ask a question in your subject line. 

saturday

10. Adding words that convey urgency in subject/preheader

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.43.37 AM

 

You can try one of the techniques above or mix and match to see what works best. Do you have more A/B testing ideas for open rates optimization? Share them in the comments below!


sherrychao

Sherry Chao

Marketing Director and Customer Happiness Officer , Iterable

Sherry Chao is the Marketing Director and Customer Happiness Officer at Iterable, an email optimization startup in San Francisco. She writes about email marketing, growth hacking tips and super sweet tech trends. 

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