Testing subject lines is a simple, effective way to start building a solid email testing program. These five tips will help you get started today:
1. Get scientific.
Start by analyzing data and reviewing current subject lines. Then, come up with a hypothesis based on your research. For example, your hypothesis might be, “A short subject line will lead to a higher open rate than a long subject line.” After you conduct the test, you’ll see if the results proved or disproved your hypothesis.
2. Identify goals.
There are many ways to measure success; start by determining which metrics you’ll be looking at once the test deploys. Open rate may indicate reader interest, but your ultimate goal may be to increase the number of people who submit the form on your landing page. In that case, the email version that gets the most opens may not be the one that leads to the most conversions.
3. Batch test first.
Conducting your test on a small sample of your subscriber list can be a smart way to maximize results. Use the winning subject line for the remainder of your subscriber list.
4. Test one variable.
Effective testing leads to new insights about your audience. But it won’t be clear if you test more than one variable at a time, because you aren’t able to tell which one made a difference. For example, you may want to test personalization: Will your readers respond better to a subject line that includes their first name? In that case, make sure the two subject lines you’re testing, aside from the personalization, are completely identical. Remember that testing subject lines means that all other content is the same, from the email to the landing page.
5. Be consistent.
Creating a compelling subject line can be easy. The real challenge is creating a compelling one that is consistent with your email and landing page. Otherwise, your awesome subject line could inspire a lot of opens, but very few clickthroughs. Worse, the email will likely end up in subscribers’ “deleted items” folder—and your subsequent emails will be regarded with suspicion. Take the long view when it comes to testing. Short-term wins are pointless if you’re not learning about your audience.
Be sure to also check out these 5 Quick Tips for Effective Subject Lines.