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5 Key Elements to A/B Test During Email Campaigns and Why

September 14, 2023 | Author:  Andrew Maff

In the highly competitive world of e-commerce, email marketing remains a powerful tool to engage customers and drive conversions. However, success in email marketing doesn't come from guesswork - it’s driven by data and an understanding of how your audience responds to different elements of your emails.

One key strategy to optimize your email campaigns is through A/B testing. This blog post will delve into the key elements to A/B test during your email campaigns, as well as explain why these specific aspects are important to your overall strategy.

The Importance of A/B Testing for Your E-Commerce Business's Email Campaigns

Email A/B testing, also known as email split testing, is a critical tool for e-commerce sellers that are conducting an email campaign. This method provides empirical data on what works best for their specific audience. This eliminates the guesswork, allowing for strategic, data-driven decisions.

By comparing two versions of an email, sellers like you can learn which elements—from content in the email body to call-to-actions—resonate more with the target audience. This ultimately leads to higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.

A/B testing also reveals insights that would otherwise remain hidden, enabling sellers to continually refine and strengthen their  email marketing strategies based on real-world results rather than assumptions.

When paired with your chosen email marketing software, this methodical approach not only helps maximize the potential of each email sent but also contributes to long-term customer engagement and retention. All of these are key factors in achieving sustained e-commerce success.

1. Subject Lines

How A/B Testing Subject Lines Can Impact Open Rates

The  subject line acts as the first impression of your email. Thus, it is a critical factor in the recipient's decision either to open your email or ignore it.

By testing two different subject lines, you can identify which one resonates more with your audience and encourages them to engage with your email.

For instance, one version of the subject line might create a sense of urgency, while the other could pique curiosity or offer a value proposition. Tracking and analyzing the open rates of each test version provide valuable insights into your audience's preferences.

A/B testing for each email subject line isn't just about increasing open rates for a single email. It's also about continuously learning more about your audience, refining your approach, and improving your overall email marketing strategy.

Remember, what worked a year ago may not be as effective today. That's why continuous testing and adaptation are key to maintaining high open rates and engaging your audience effectively.

Examples of Different Subject Lines to Test

Personalized Subject Lines

Personalization can significantly improve engagement rates. Experiment with lines that include the recipient's name or other personal details.


Subject lines that contain numbers, such as percentages or a list (e.g., "Top 5 winter outfits"), often attract attention. Test these against lines without numbers to see how your audience responds.

Direct versus Indirect Verbiage

Some subject lines directly reveal the email content, such as "30% off on all electronics today!", while others are more subtle and may pique a reader's curiosity, such as "Unlock your surprise discount!".

Question-Based Subject Lines

Subject lines that pose a question can encourage your email clients to open the message if they want to find the answer. For example, "Ready for the best deal of your life?" can be tested against a statement-based subject line, such as "The best deal of your life awaits you."

Urgent Subject Lines

A subject line that creates a sense of urgency or exclusivity, such as "Only 3 hours left!" or "Exclusive offer just for you," can be effective in driving quick action.

2. Email Content

Why A/B Testing Your Email Content Is Essential

The content of your email plays a crucial role in determining whether your audience will engage further with your message and end up making a purchase. A/B testing the actual content of your emails gives you valuable insights into what type of content resonates best with your audience.

For example, you might test whether your audience prefers shorter, more succinct emails or longer, more detailed content. You could also test different types of messaging - for instance, educational content versus promotional content.

A/B testing can also help you determine the most effective tone of voice, whether that's formal, casual, or something in between.

That's not to mention test elements within your email to see how they are performing. This could include different images, headlines, body copy, personalization, and call-to-action buttons.

Different Content Strategies and Their Impact on Engagement Rates

Understanding how various content strategies affect engagement rates is critical in optimizing your email marketing campaigns. Here are some strategies you can A/B test to figure out what works best for your audience.

Text-Based vs. Image-Based Emails

Some audiences might prefer a text-based email that gets straight to the point, while others might engage more with vibrant images and infographics.

Educational vs. Promotional Content

A/B testing can help you understand if your audience prefers educational content that provides them with valuable information or promotional content that directly advertises your products.

For instance, an educational email might include a blog post about how to use your product, while a promotional email might highlight a sale or special offer.

Storytelling vs. Direct Selling

Some audiences might appreciate storytelling that builds a connection with your brand and company name, while others might prefer direct selling that emphasizes your product’s features and benefits. Balancing these two approaches and testing to find the right mix can lead to higher engagement.

User-Generated Content vs. Brand-Generated Content

User-generated content, including customer testimonials and reviews, can be highly effective in building trust and influencing purchase decisions.

Comparing engagement rates for emails that feature user-generated content against those with brand-generated content can offer valuable insights into your audience's preferences.


Personalized content can significantly improve engagement rates. This could involve tailoring the content to the recipient’s past purchases, browsing behavior, or demographic data. Use an A/B test to discern the degree of personalization to see how much impact it has on engagement.

3. Call-To-Action Buttons

The Importance of A/B Testing for CTA Buttons

Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are one of the most critical components of your emails. These buttons guide your subscribers toward taking the action you want them to, such as making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or downloading a resource.

That's why it's essential to A/B test different aspects of your CTA buttons if you want to maximize your conversion rate, click-through rate, and other key metrics.


The location of your CTA button can significantly influence its visibility and the likelihood of it getting clicked. You can experiment with placing it at the beginning, middle, or end of your email, or even use multiple buttons throughout your email to see which one gets you eyeballs on your landing pages.


The color of your CTA button should make it stand out from the rest of your email. Testing various colors can help you determine which color grabs your audience's attention the most and encourages them to click.

Remember, the chosen color should align with your brand identity and the overall design of your email.


The text on your CTA button should be clear, concise, and action-oriented. A/B testing can help you identify which words or phrases resonate best with your audience and drive them to act.

For instance, "Buy Now" might be more compelling than "Shop Now," or "Get Your Free eBook" might work better than "Download Now."

4. Personalization

A/B Testing for Personalization in Emails

Personalized emails tend to have higher engagement rates because they create a sense of relevance and connection with the recipient. They show the recipient that your brand recognizes them as an individual, not just a generic customer.

Personalized emails can include elements such as the recipient's name, products they've shown interest in, or content that aligns with their known interests and behaviors.

By aligning the content of the email with the recipient's unique preferences and behaviors, your email feels more relevant and appealing, which can lead to greater engagement.

It also creates a sense of personal connection between the brand and the customer, fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat engagement. To that end, A/B testing different levels of personalization can help you find the optimal balance that resonates with your audience.

Different Ways to Test Personalization in Emails

Testing Personalization in a Subject Line

The first thing your recipient sees is the email subject line, and personalizing it could significantly improve open rates.

You can A/B test using the recipient's name versus not using it, or try out different personalized phrases, to understand which approach encourages more opens.

Personalized Recommendations

Based on prior customer behavior or past purchases, you can send tailored product or content recommendations to your prospective customers. A/B testing lets you find the winning version.

Testing Personalized Content

A/B testing emails with different levels of personalized content, such as a personalized greeting, can provide insights into how much personalization resonates with your audience.

Personalized Imagery

Using images related to a user's past buying behavior or preferences can create a more engaging, personalized experience.

5. Send Time and Frequency

The Role of Email Timing and Frequency in Customer Engagement

The timing and frequency of your emails can significantly impact their effectiveness. This involves figuring out the best days and times to send your emails as well as how often to send them.


The optimal time to send an email can vary depending on your audience.  Many studies suggest that weekdays during working hours receive the highest open rates, as people are typically checking their emails throughout the workday.

However, these findings may not apply to all industries or customer segments, so it's important to A/B test different send times to identify when your specific audience is most likely to open and engage with your emails.


Just like with timing, the  frequency of your messages also plays a crucial role in engagement and overall email performance. Sending too many emails can lead to subscriber fatigue and higher unsubscribe rates, while sending too few can cause your audience to forget about your brand.

A/B testing can help you find the sweet spot—where you're communicating enough to stay top of mind, but not so much that you're causing irritation or disinterest.

Different Ways to A/B Test Send Times and Frequency in Emails

Testing Day of the Week

To understand which day of the week yields the highest open rates, divide your email list into segments and send the same email on different days of the week. Compare the open rates and engagement for each day to identify the most effective days for your audience.

Testing Time of Day

Just like testing days of the week, you can also run email tests for different times of the day. For instance, you could test sending emails in the early morning versus late afternoon.

Testing Frequency

When testing frequency, you could start by dividing your marketing email list into two groups. Send one group of emails more frequently than the other and compare the engagement and unsubscribe rates of each group after a few weeks.

Keep monitoring to find the frequency that yields maximum engagement without increasing unsubscribe rates.


As an e-commerce business, it is essential to understand and optimize your customer interaction channels, particularly email marketing. A/B testing provides invaluable insights into your customers' preferences and behaviors, enabling you to tailor your email marketing strategies for maximum effectiveness.

Here at BlueTuskr, we understand the power and potential of A/B testing for e-commerce email marketing. We offer comprehensive conversion rate optimization (CRO) services designed to help you implement and maximize the benefits of A/B testing.

To find out more,  contact our expert team today!

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