by Russell

12/02/2009

Internet Marketing

Are easyJet using A/B testing on their email campaigns?

By coincidence I’m signed up to receive special offer emails from easyJet both at work and on my personal email. This week I received special offers emails from the company which landed in both inboxes as usual. This time however I noticed something different – even though the content of the emails and the discount offers available were identical the emails had different subjects:

Save up to 25% off flights. Book now.
16 million seats on sale now.

This got me thinking – are easyJet using A/B testing to improve sales from their email marketing?

The advantages of A/B testing

Ever drafted an advert or content for an email or website and struggled on how best to word the offer? Chances are all your ideas were good, but most importantly one of the options would have been better than the others. The problem though is deciding which phrase or wording to use is both difficult and subjective.

With A/B testing you can try out your different ideas and see which one inspires and encourages your customers to act and ultimately buy. You shortlist your best ideas and phrases and then use specialist A/B testing software such as Google’s Website Optimizer to try them out.

Example:

Let’s say we’re sending out a special offer email to 3000 existing customers. The objective of the campaign is to inspire them to click through to your website and buy. Here’s my three best ideas for the email subject:

  • 50% special offer for repeat customers
  • Half price Discount Voucher on all products
  • Special weekend offer – huge discount reductions, don’t miss out!

With A/B testing you can try out all three ideas and see which one performs best and gets the most sales. 1000 customers will receive an email with the first subject line, 1000 with the second subject line and 1000 with the third.

But why bother?

More sales – the astonishing reality is one of the subject lines will perform better then the others. It will inspire more recipients to grab their wallets and act than the other phrases. If you’re able to measure and track the success you can use the knowledge for future campaigns and advertising. Perhaps using the winning phrase on your homepage?

Seriously how much of a difference can it make?

Lots. We’ve been running A/B testing for a while now and the results never fail to amaze us. Even the simplest tests can deliver a 20% improvement in sales and more advanced testing can deliver a 200% uplift. That’s enough to ramp up your sales in a recession and pay for your next holiday at the same time.

Scale these sums up for a company as large as easyJet who are probably sending out emails to millions of recipients and you’re looking at big bucks. Even a 1% increase in sales would be worth millions in extra sales revenue.

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