How to Stand Out in the Inbox with Subject Line Testing

Seth Carr

With every email you send to your subscribers, you’re competing against dozens, if not hundreds of other marketers trying to reach the same inboxes. How will you stand out amongst the competition?

Follow These A/B Test Best Practices

The first basic step of testing your subject lines is to split up the groups that will receive your email. If you’re sending a non-revenue generating message, split the group down the middle (50/50) so that half of the subscribers receive the “A” version and the other half of the group gets the “B” version. If you’re promoting a revenue-generating event such as an educational course or convention, try dividing the group 80/20.

When it comes to the testing itself, the most important part is to only test one aspect of your email. That way, you can attribute any changes in your metrics to that single variable. Changing multiple variables in a single A/B test is not recommended.

Additionally, you’ll want to have a good handle on the size of your mobile readership. If it’s significant, strive for creating subject lines of 50 characters or less so that the entire message appears in the subscribers’ preview screen. Try experimenting with subject lines that urge readers to take a particular action, use first name personalization, promote compelling statistics or include your organization’s name. Click here for more information on the basics of A/B split testing.

A Tale of Subject Line Success

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) reviewed their metrics and discovered a decline in subscribers viewing their emails. Their analysis also revealed that their most clicked link came from the question of the week that they asked in each newsletter.

Based on this insight, they began including the “question of the week” in their subject lines. As a result, they saw open rates jump by 13% and click thru rates increase by 25%. Even after AORN made this change, the “question of the week” link still received the most clicks in their emails, despite the fact that it was placed at the very bottom of their communications. Read their full case study here.

Subject Line Testing Should Be a Continuous Process

The single most effective way to boost your opens and clicks is with A/B subject line testing. If you’re not doing any testing, how can you be sure that there isn’t a more effective way to grab your readers’ attention?

Remember, it’s never too early or late to start testing. And even once you get going, testing should never end. Subscriber viewing preferences can change and an email format that worked well a few weeks or months ago may lose effectiveness over time. So view your reports, roll up your sleeves and get creative with some irresistibly catchy subject lines that scream click me.

If you need more inspiration, take a gander at the webinar, Stand Out in the Inboxor download our free subject lines guide.

How to test subject lines

About the Author
Seth Carr

As an eMarketing Advisor at Informz, Seth arms his clients with a variety of email marketing best practices that help them deliver timely, engaging content to their subscribers. Outside of work, he likes to write creatively and yell at the television during football season.