Why Should You Split Test Email Subject Lines?

Did you know split testing is actually part of everyday life?

It can happen when you try on different outfits. Or if you try a different ingredient in your recipe. Or maybe you’re comparing ways to tell people you want to take one of those vacations to the moon so you know how you should break it to your spouse. Split testing is all about testing different options to find what works the best.

Just like you don’t want to wear the suit that everyone thinks is ugly, you don’t want to send an email newsletter with a subject that doesn’t sound appealing.

Why You Should Split Test Subject Lines

“Split testing allows you to find what will work best” is a rather broad statement, so let’s take a closer look at the benefits:

Increase conversions
When you have a subject line that performs well, more subscribers will open that message. More subscribers opening means more subscribers reading. And more subscribers reading means more subscribers are likely to respond to the call for action.

Learn about your audience
You want to get to know your subscribers so you can send information they’ll love. There are a number of ways to get to know your subscribers, and looking at the subject lines they like is just one of them. It can teach you if they like your sale emails, or if they open your newsletters more.

Adjust to people changing
Just because something has worked before, doesn’t mean it will always continue to work. As your subscribers’ needs and wants change, you’ll want to continue testing to make sure you’re aware of what they want.

What You Can Split Test

There are a number of things you can split test in your subject line:

Length
Short subject line vs. long subject line? In general, you want to use the least number of characters possible while still getting your point across. Sometimes you may find that it’s more important to get your point across, and that requires a longer subject line.

Personalization
Should you use subscribers’ names or other personal information in the subject? There are mixed reviews on personalization. It’s up to you to find out how your subscribers feel about it.

Company name
Should you include your company name in the subject? We’ve seen results on how this might be a good move. In most cases, the more your subscribers see your brand, the better. You should still test to see how subject line branding performs for your list.

Wording
How you say what you need to say is important. For example, do subscribers like “% off” or “$ off?” Do they respond to psychological trigger words like “secrets?” You can test these in your subject line to find what wording you should be using, and it can even help you with writing the rest of your messages.

Appearance
Your capitalization and punctuation can also influence subscribers. You don’t want your subject line to look like spam, but at the same time you want it to pop. What you think looks good and what your subscribers think looks good can be different, so you need to test!

Split Tests by Tumbleweed Houses

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company used the AWeber split test feature regularly. Check out some of the split tests they’ve done on the subject line:

Winning subject: “It’s FREE. All the tiny houses on our site and more”
(26% more opens)
Losing subject: “It features all the houses on our website plus more…”
Our take: People love free things, so using the word “free” right up front may have been key here. Other than that, the subjects are very similar. Just one word can cause a huge difference.
Winning subject: “SOLAR LIVING GOES TINY”
(18% more opens)
Losing subject: “Solar Living Goes Tiny”
Our take: Some people might think using all-caps looks like spam, but sometimes it grabs attention. If you’re in your subscribers’ address book and consistently sending quality content, then using this tactic could be beneficial.
Winning subject: “Not so nuts after all”
(17% more opens)
Losing subject: “Can Evan and Gabby stay sane in 117 square feet?”
Our take: The winning subject doesn’t give a lot of information; it’s more of a teaser. It’s a good strategy, because it can make the subscriber curious. Who’s nuts? Why did people think they were nuts?

Have some of Tumbleweed’s results surprised you? That’s why it’s important to split test! You’ll never know what will work best for your campaign until you set up some split tests.

We Want To Hear About Your Split Tests!

So what do you plan on split testing? Feel free to discuss it!

And if you’ve run some tests before, we want to know results you’ve seen!