Testing your subject line in 8 steps

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Testing the subject line greatly contributes to success. Below are 8 steps for testing your subject line.

1. Set a measurable goal

Before you start testing, set a measurable goal. The most common method of measurement is the Open Rate, but you might also want to consider testing your subject line for click-through rate, conversion, or unsubscribers.

2. Create SMART goals

After determining which method to use, you need to determine what you want to achieve with your testing strategy. Formulate your goals SMART. For example: ''Increase the Open Rate by 10% within 6 months''.

3. Make a hypothesis

The hypothesis is the assumption on which you base your test variable. A good hypothesis contains:

  • What you are going to change
  • What do you think the outcome will be
  • Why you think that will be the case

Example: ''Using shorter subject lines increases Open Rates, because our recipients mainly read their email on mobile''.

4. Choose a variable

In the example above, the subject line length is the variable, but many more variables are possible:

  • Personalized vs Generic
  • Sentence order
  • Tone of voice
  • A question or statement

Just make sure you always test one variable at a time. When you use multiple variables at the same time, it becomes difficult to figure out what exactly made the difference.

5. Determine your sample size

Consider the sample size needed to get meaningful results. Testing on a sample size that is too small provides too little insight. You will have to test the different variables across multiple campaigns to get the answer to your hypothesis. There are handy tools to help you determine what sample size you need.

6. Run your A/B test

Within Clang you have various options for email A/B testing. For example, you can use the 'Split-Run' functionality. You select different e-mails and the number of recipients is then distributed evenly over the different e-mails. After sending, you can see in the statistics which mailing has scored best. Does your ESP not offer this option? Then you can perform an A/B test by splitting your list. Make sure to split the list randomly.

7. Collect and analyze the results

Collect the results of all the tests you run for the most complete picture possible, then analyze the results. You can formulate new hypotheses based on all the results.

8. Draw your conclusion

Based on the results of your tests, you can prove or disprove your hypothesis. If no statistical significance is found, consider adjusting your variables and rerun the test.

To be continued

The subject line of your e-mail deserves continuous attention. The inbox is getting fuller, so you have to be able to distinguish yourself. With new technologies and psychology you can make your subject lines distinctive.

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