Why Should you Split Test your Email Subject Lines?


Have you heard of split testing? It’s also known as A/B testing. It’s a way to test your subject lines for emails, blog posts, and headlines for social media and email marketing to determine what content will get you the most clicks and opens. It comes down to creating a title that your audience will find the most appealing. A series of randomized and controlled experiments are used to determine if your content is interesting to your readers. If your content isn’t interesting, fewer people will click on it. It’s as simple as that. Split testing ensures that your title is as enticing as possible.

The proof is in the pudding. Entrepreneurs and internet marketers who consistently conduct split tests know from experience that split testing is effective. Split testing titles leads to higher open rates, increased conversions, and insights into subscriber behavior and preferences.


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How does split testing work?

You begin with an original, controlled piece of content. For example, you might choose an email title for a newsletter or e-blast. Once you’ve established your original content, you then create variations of the original content and you distribute the content to different groups. You then compare the incoming traffic to your website or clicks on your links to determine which title was the most effective. The hope is that there is statistical evidence that will show you an emerging behavior. Perhaps shorter titles are more effective, or all caps, or titles that include a specific word. At the end of the day, you want to know what factors affect your subscribers or followers and how you can best engage that group.

Some services, like MailChimp, are able to do the split testing for you, or you can conduct and control the experiments yourself by comparing your own analytics.

In addition to split testing your subject line, you can experiment with different from names, or delivery dates and times. Maybe you’ll receive better open rates on Tuesdays, or maybe subject lines that include an incentive will be the most successful. It might be interesting to know if subscribers are more likely to click an image link, or linked text.

To make split testing worthwhile, identify clear goals. You’ll want to aim to see significant and productive changes to justify the effort of conducting the tests. What would you like to measure?

For the best results, try to be as scientific as possible. Follow structured steps, beginning with research and observation. You’ll want to establish original data and then analyze the differences between your control groups. The more that you can follow clear statistics, the better. Analyze the data and review it to form a hypothesis. For example, the hypothesis might be that subject lines that are fewer than 100 characters get higher open rates. After you conduct your set of tests, you’ll be able to prove or disprove whether or not your hypothesis was right.


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Batch testing on a small group first is a smart way to maximize results. When running an email campaign, rather than sending the same title to everyone, start with a few small groups and use title variations for each group. Determine which title achieved the highest click rate and then use the winning subject line to blast the rest of your subscriber list.

Creating a compelling subject line doesn’t have to be hard. Make split testing a mindset and constantly be on the lookout for what will work best. The more flexible that you are, and the more attention that you pay to your customers’ needs and interests, the more successful you’ll become. Split testing is all about finding out what works best. It’s a way to work smart, and who doesn’t want that?

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