Want to write emails that get opened?
(Of course you do).
It all starts with the email subject line. If you’ve got a boring subject line, nobody’s gonna click. But if you’ve got a subject line that’s too “out there,” your list is going to think “Who is this crazy lady and why is she emailing me?”
They’ll open the email … only to unsubscribe from your list.
So, how do you know what subject line works best for your travel audience? How do you hit the sweet spot between b-o-r-i-n-g and borderline crazy?
Enter: A/B testing for your travel agent e-newsletter.
With A/B testing — also known as “split testing” — you pick the two best email subject lines you’ve come up with for an email, and then pit them against each other.
The result? More email opens, and, just as importantly, you start to learn what kinds of email subject lines your list responds best to.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you send out your travel agent e-newsletter on Tuesday mornings. This week’s newsletter is all about luxury safari adventures in Africa. You came up with two good possible subject lines, and you can’t decide which one to use:
1) “This is a spellbinding, once-in-a-lifetime kind of journey …”
2) “What would YOU do if you came face-to-face with an African lion?”
They’re pretty different — using different subject line techniques, and appealing to different desires — so how do you choose?
You don’t. You A/B test, and let your subscribers decide.
To do so, you need to segment your list into three parts: List 1 has ¼ of your total subscribers, List 2 has a different ¼ of your total subscribers, and List 3 has the remaining 1/2 of your subscribers.
At 9:00 am, you send out your e-newsletter to List 1 and 2. You do this separately, so you can use a different subject line for each.
In a few hours, come back and check your open rates. Did the email to List 1 or List 2 get more opens?
Once you figure out which subject line performed better, you send your e-newsletter out to your remaining subscribers (List 3).
I know this sounds a little confusing. But I think it’s worth it to get more eyeballs on your e-newsletter. You spend so much time and passion crafting your content for it not to get read!
A/B Testing on Autopilot
The good news? Some email campaign providers offer built-in A/B subject line testing, so the process is completely automated. Just plug in the two subject lines you want to test, and that’s it! Just make sure you go back in and check the stats to see which subject lines performed better, so you can start to get a feel for the kinds of subject line techniques your audience responds to best. My email service provider, ConvertKit, recently introduced A/B subject line testing, and I can’t wait to dig into it! Poke around to see if you provider has it too.
One caveat: A/B testing doesn’t really work if you have a small list. It needs quite a bit of data — a.k.a. subscribers — to determine a statistically significant difference in your subject lines. So if your travel agent e-newsletter list is only hovering around 100-200 subscribers right now, file this away for when you grow your list into 500+ hungry subscribers (which I totally believe you can do with some savvy list-building approaches!).
Got any questions about A/B testing? I’ll answer them in the comments below!