How to Test Email Subject Lines

How often do you meet someone new and make immediate assumptions and opinions about them? First impressions can shape our views and beliefs about people, places and experiences.

For your email subscribers, the first impression they have of your brand comes from your subject lines. If it’s not compelling enough, relevant enough, or tempting enough, people won’t feel inclined to open it, forming their own preconceived notions about who you are.

In order to determine the best messaging for subject lines to draw your audience in, you must use testing.

Why should you test subject lines?

As mentioned, subject lines are the first part of your email subscribers receive. If they don’t open it, they won’t click, engage or convert from it. You may dedicate hours writing, designing and laying out the perfect email, but if no one opens it, your efforts are for nothing.

For this reason, subject lines should be part of your initial campaign strategy, rather than an afterthought.

How do you set up a subject line test?

Executing a test for subject lines is rather straightforward, and your ESP should make it very easy and intuitive. Before executing the test, however, make sure you put a formal plan together that includes the following:

  • Goal: What insights you want to gain from the test.
  • Variable: What you are testing (number vs. no number, recipient’s name vs. no name, question vs. statement, etc.).
  • Other email elements: Copy, images and CTA are still very important. Keep these identical for both email variations.
  • Next steps: What will you do with the results? Strategize future tests to truly narrow down what works.

Make a positive first impression that lasts with effective subject lines. Testing will allow you to gain insight into what peaks audience interest and leads them to take further action within your email and beyond.

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