Email Testing

Testing is an important aspect of any email newsletter marketing campaign.  One of the simplest email tests is the review email. Many email clients permit marketers to test a single email for review before it is distributed to their list. In these test emails, the message — as it is created in the email client — is sent to the account owner or other recipient that is already a subscriber or other specified inbox address. This allows the sender to view the email, ensure that all links work, that the images are displayed properly, and that all formatting and content renders correctly.  After reviewing, mailers can confidently distribute messages to their list. 


Successful email marketers also employ tests to benchmark performance and response metrics.  A/B testing is a simple kind of email testing in which one randomized segment of a mailing list or audience receives one email message option, and a separate randomized segment receives a second email message option. In a/b testing, marketers are able to measure audience responses to different message aspects. These include:


  • Enticing subject lines
  • Day of the week of delivery
  • Time of day of delivery
  • Offer or marketing message
  • Layout and formatting
  • Image-based versus text-based
  • Sender address
  • Personalization, tone or other content variations


While A/B testing is simple, email marketers should be careful when running tests. Marketers should be sure that their lists are truly random. If marketers were to divide their list in half, one group may be comprised of older-sign ups while the other is of new recipients; these groups may have different preferences or expectations from a list. Marketers should be careful to blend these along with other demographic individuals or groups.


Marketers must also be careful to only test one aspect of their message at a time.  It is not productive to send two completely different messages out; without some similarities, it is impossible to pinpoint which aspects led to a message’s success. The ultimate goal of testing is to implement style changes into future campaign messages without split testing.

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