Welcome to the latest edition of our new weekly blog series, What to Test. Each week, we will introduce a new test idea. We’ll explain why it’s important to test it, what you might learn, how to carry out the test, and what to measure in order to determine a winner. Last week we tested Form Fields.

The Test = Email Design


Email marketing is an area prime for testing. And there are a number of things that you can test, including subject lines, calls to action, etc. But today, let’s focus on the design of your email. This includes that layout along with any graphics or images.

The email landscape is undergoing a large shift to mobile, along with the rest of the web. Depending on who your subscribers are, chances are high that more than half of them will be viewing your emails on a phone. And recent studies have shown that responsive design (designing for opens across different devices) is leading to higher click-thru rates.

So there are more than a couple of options when testing your email design.


You can test a responsive design email vs your standard email template. You can test an email with no graphics vs one with graphics. You can test two different graphics. And you can test an email that looks like a letter (header with text below and a signature) vs one that looks more like a webpage (big graphics, multiple columns and rows). I think these are all worthwhile tests, and different people will respond to different versions in each test. But all will teach you something about what works for your audience.

Testing on emails is simple if you’re using an email marketing tool that offers A/B testing (which most do). If not, you can just split your list in half and send them two different emails. You will want to company open rates (which should not vary much when the design is the only difference) and click-thru rates (which is the real meat of this test). Higher click-thru rates wins.

Anything to add? As always, use the comments below or Twitter #whattotest to keep the conversation going!