by Ula Chwesiuk May 15, 2024

In marketing, customers can be rather fickle, and acquiring leads and potential buyers through email is a challenging endeavor. Creating effective and high-performing email campaigns requires data-driven optimization, and A/B testing is a powerful tool to achieve this. Let us examine some considerations and strategies for successful email campaigns.

Table of contents

1. Before you launch: some considerations
2. What not to do
3. Testing strategies
4. A/B testing examples
5. CTA (call to action) categories
6. Examples of strong CTAs
7. Leverage software features
8. Conclusion

During an A/B test, you create two variations of your email and send them to separate groups within your audience. By using analytics to compare key metrics like open rates and click-through rates, you can identify which version resonates better with your target audience.

This allows you to refine various elements like subject lines, content, and calls to action to deliver the most impactful message and ultimately achieve your marketing goals. Here, we will examine some key strategies for successful email campaigns.

Before You Launch: Some Considerations

Before you launch your email campaign, define your goals and target audience. Next, identify your testing strategies and plan them out well.

Define your goals and target audience

What do you want recipients to do after reading your email? Is it a purchase, clicking a link, watching a video, making a download, simple brand awareness, subscribing to your newsletter or email list, referrals to friends or colleagues, or other actions? 

Understanding your goals will guide what metrics you track and what elements you test. 

Segmenting your email list allows you to tailor your message to click with specific target audiences.

Form a hypothesis

What do you think will work best? Base your hunches on past campaign data or industry best practices, but also be bold and experiment.

What not to do

The following are some common mistakes you should avoid when conducting email campaigns.

Planning and Audience

  • Skipping the Planning Process: Not having a clear plan or measurable goals can lead to unfocused and ineffective campaigns.
  • Not Defining Your Target Audience: Sending emails to the wrong audience can lead to low engagement rates.
  • Buying Email Lists: This can lead to low engagement and high spam rates.

Content and Design

  • Adding irrelevant subject lines: Using subject lines that do not accurately reflect the content of the email can lead to low open rates.
  • Not segmenting your audience: Failing to segment your email list based on user interests, behaviors, or demographics can result in less relevant and engaging content.
  • Using spammy words in the email body: Certain words and phrases can trigger spam filters and prevent your emails from reaching the inbox.
  • Not optimizing emails for mobile: With a majority of emails being opened on mobile devices, having an unoptimized email design can provide a poor user experience.
  • Creating Unfocused Emails: Emails that lack a clear message or call-to-action can confuse readers and lead to low click-through rates.
  • Not Personalizing Emails: Generic, one-size-fits-all emails are less engaging than personalized content tailored to individual subscribers.

Deliverability and Tracking

  • Not cleaning out your email lists regularly: Keeping inactive or unengaged subscribers can hurt your email deliverability.
  • Not checking for errors: Mistakes in your emails can hurt your brand's reputation and make your emails look unprofessional.
  • Inability to track campaign performance: Not monitoring email metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions can make it difficult to optimize your campaigns.

Advanced Strategies

  • Not using email automation: Automating email workflows like welcome series, abandoned cart reminders, and re-engagement campaigns can improve efficiency and relevance.
  • Failing to use A/B testing: Testing different subject lines, content, and design elements can help identify the most effective strategies for your audience.
  • Sending Too Many Messages: Overloading your subscribers with too many emails can lead to unsubscribes.

Testing strategies

The following are some standard strategies and best practices for successful email campaigns. Bear in mind that these are only a few of the factors involved, and your mileage may vary.

A/B Testing

For A/B Testing, create variations of your email campaign and send them to randomly chosen segments or preselected groups of your email list. 

  • Common elements to test include subject lines, sender name, preheader text, email content (length, tone, visuals), email layout/design, and CTAs (calls to action). 
  • By testing one variable at a time, you can isolate which element has the biggest impact on your goals.

Analyze and Act on Results

Review the test results and take action based on the winning variation. Continue iterating and testing to further optimize your email campaigns.

Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons

You could test different colors, sizes, and texts for your CTA buttons. For example, test whether “Buy Now” or “Learn More” leads to more conversions.

Choose a Large Sample Size

Use a sufficient number of recipients to ensure statistically significant results and that the differences you observe are not just due to random chance.

Isolate Test Variables

Focus on testing one element at a time to pinpoint what drives performance differences.

Personalize and Segment

If you have a global audience, you could segment your emails based on the recipient’s location and send personalized recommendations. 

Retargeting campaigns

 Encourage visitors to complete their actions via email retargeting campaigns such as completing a valid email address or phone number in forms or completing abandoned purchase transactions. 

Set Clear Objectives

Determine what metric you want to improve, such as open rate, click-through rate, or conversion rate, and design your test to directly measure that first.

Test different send times

The times that your audience opens emails significantly impact engagement. Try sending emails at various times and days of the week to see what works best. For example, if sending emails at 10 AM leads to the highest open rate, test sending at 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM to see if you can further optimize your open rate.

Test Regularly

Make email testing an ongoing process to continuously improve the performance of your campaigns.

Test Simultaneously

Run the different email versions at the same time to ensure any variations in performance are not due to external factors like time of day.

Test Different Subject Lines

You could send half of your email list an email with the subject line “Get 50% off your next order” and the other half “Save big on your next order” and compare which subject line leads to more opens and clicks.

Track All the Data

Most email marketing platforms provide detailed analytics on open rates, click-through rates, and other engagement metrics. Use this data to measure success and identify areas for improvement.

Use a Control Version

Always include a high-performing email as a baseline to compare your test variations against. This allows you to measure the impact of the changes you're making.

A/B testing examples

A/B testing allows experimenting with different email elements to determine which resonates best with your targets. If you are unfamiliar with A/ B testing, you can learn step-by-step how to run an A/B split test in typical email campaigns.

Here are some examples of successful A/B testing for email campaigns. Which one of each pair of options do you think got more customer engagement?

1. Call to Action (CTA)

  • Test: Strong verb and benefit-oriented CTA vs. Weak verb and generic CTA.
    • Example: "Get Your Free Trial Today" vs. "Start Now"
  • Test Specificity: Include specific details relevant to the email content.
    • Example: "Shop our Spring Collection" (higher click-through rate than "Shop Now!").

2. Email Content

  • Length: Test Long Copy vs. Short Copy to see what resonates better.
    • Example: Short version with higher click-through rate (tech company).
  • Test Formatting: Bullet Points vs. Normal Text for improved engagement.

3. Salutation

  • Test: Personalized greetings with subscriber's name vs. Generic greetings.
    • Example: "Hi [First Name]" (higher percentage open rate) vs. "Hi there".
  • Personalization: Personalize other elements based on purchase history for a more relevant experience.
    • Example: "Hi [Customer Name], We saw you liked X product, you might also enjoy Y!" vs. "Hi there, Check out our latest products!"

4. Subject Line

  • Test: A question that sparks curiosity vs. A generic statement about the product.
    • Example: "Want to glow from the inside out? Our new skincare line!" vs. "Introducing our new skincare line!"
  • Test Specificity: Include details like discounts or product categories.
    • Example: "25% off Spring Collection" vs. "Spring Collection Offers" (discount led to higher open rate).

5. Tone

  • Test: Hard-Sell Copy vs. Soft-Sell Copy to see which messaging approach is more effective.

6. Visuals

  • Test: Image-Heavy vs. Text-Heavy emails to find the optimal content mix for your audience.
    • Example: Image of a dress vs. Text describing the dress.
  • Test: Video vs. No Video to see if it increases click-through rates.

CTA (call to action) categories

A CTA (call to action) in email campaigns is a button or link that encourages the reader to take a specific action like clicking the link or button that says "Buy Now," "Learn More," "Sign Up", or "Subscribe now", etc. The desired action is indicative of a successful email marketing campaign. CTAs are designed to be clear, concise, and eye-catching to cause readers to click through and perform a desired action.

The following is a list of desired actions in marketing campaign emails arranged by category:

  • Brand Awareness:
    • Subscribe to your newsletter or email list to receive ongoing communication and updates.
    • Visit your website to learn more about your company or browse products.
    • Follow you on social media for future updates and brand engagement.
  • Building a Loyal Community:
    • Attend an in-person event or participate in a virtual community forum.
    • Share your content on social media to spread brand awareness.
  • Customer Engagement:
    • Leave a review of your product or service.
    • Download a helpful resource like a checklist, template, or software trial.
    • Participate in a survey or provide feedback on your offerings.
    • Refer a friend and earn a reward for their successful referral.
    • Watch a video showcasing a product tutorial, customer testimonial, or company story.
    • Re-engage inactive customers with special promotions or personalized recommendations.
  • Lead Generation:
    • Download a white paper or ebook in exchange for their contact information.
    • Register for a webinar or event to learn more about your offerings.
    • Sign up for a free trial or demo of your product or service.
  • Sales & Conversions:
    • Click through to a product page and make a purchase.
    • Sign up for a paid subscription or service plan.
    • Use a discount code included in the email to incentivize a purchase.

Examples of strong CTAs

The CTA or call to action is the last actionable step in your email campaign that urges your target audience to engage with your email. Always remember that good CTAs should/should be:

  • Clear and concise: People should instantly understand what you want them to do.
  • Focused on benefits: Highlight what value users get by taking action.
  • Create a sense of urgency: Encourage immediate action with limited-time offers or scarcity.
  • Use strong action verbs like "download," "claim," or "shop" to create a sense of momentum.

Make sure to A/B test different CTAs and see which ones work best per particular audience segment. 

Here are some examples of compelling calls to action (CTAs) categorized by their desired response:

  • Build Brand Awareness:
    • Social Proof: "Join the Thousands Who Love Our Products," "Follow Us for Daily Inspiration"
    • Community-Focused: "Be Part of the Movement," "Join Our Community"
    • Interactive: "Take Our Quiz and Find Your Perfect Match" (for a product recommendation)
  • Generate Leads:
    • Value-Oriented: "Download Your Free Ebook Today," "Get Your Free Trial," "Start Your Free Consultation"
    • Curiosity-Driven: "Discover the Secret to..." (relevant to your product/service)
    • Action-Focused: "Sign Up for Early Access," "Claim Your Free Spot," "Reserve Your Place Now”
  • Increase Customer Engagement:
    • Personalized: "Leave a Review for [Your Name]," "Tell Us What You Think"
    • Actionable: "Share Your Story," "Refer a Friend and Earn Rewards"
    • Exclusive Offers: "Get Early Access to New Products," "Enjoy Exclusive Discounts"
  • Increase Sales or Conversions:
    • Strong Verbs: "Shop Now," "Buy Now," "Get Yours Today," "Upgrade Now"
    • Scarcity and Urgency: "Limited Time Offer!," "Last Chance to Save," "Only a Few Left!"
    • Benefit-Oriented: "Unlock Faster Speeds" (for an internet plan), "Experience Luxury Comfort" (for bedding)
    • Question CTAs: "Ready to Transform Your Skin?" (for a skincare product)

Leverage software features

There are many software features you should take advantage of; you do not need to reinvent the wheel or do things manually. Here are some you should incorporate into your overall workflow:

  • A/B Testing: Test different versions of your emails to optimize performance. 
  • Analytics and Reporting: Track email campaign performance with insightful data and reporting.
  • Automation: Automate email sequences based on subscriber behavior (e.g., abandoned cart recovery). 
  • Drag-and-Drop Builder: Design professional-looking emails without coding. 
  • Integrations: Connect your email marketing platform with other marketing tools. 
  • Landing Page Creation: Create landing pages to capture leads or conversions directly from email CTAs (calls to action). 
  • Marketing Automation: Automate email workflows to save time and improve results. 
  • Personalization: Personalize email content based on subscriber data for a more relevant experience. 
  • Segmentation and Targeting: Segment your email list for targeted campaigns with higher engagement. 
  • Tax automation: Tax automation tools can be incorporated into price calculations for special offers, useful for dealing with disparate tax rates in different countries.
  • Templates: Save time with pre-designed email templates for various purposes. 

Another thing you can try is to integrate your marketing software with HR software solutions
to streamline and centralize management of separate departments such as sales, marketing, IT, and strategic planning.


Email campaigns are some of the most important and challenging regular activities of marketing your products and services. They can be overwhelming and require careful crafting of all components, setting up your target segments, and A/B testing, and measuring responses. 

In this regard, using automated and customizable software is essential, and Elastic Email fits the bill and will make your campaigns easier to implement and measure.

We hope this guide helps you create and implement successful email campaigns. Good luck!

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Ula Chwesiuk

Ula is a content creator at Elastic Email. She is passionate about marketing, creative writing and language learning. Outside of work, Ula likes to travel, try new recipes and go to concerts.

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