The Outbound Audit: Why A/B Testing Is Crucial in Email Marketing

A/B testing (or split testing, if you prefer) is thoroughly baked into our process at RevBoss.

Every campaign we kick off is pitted against the same campaign run in reverse. It’s a quicker way for us to see how our last touchpoint performs compared to our first, and it decides where we funnel the majority of our outreach volume.

Most companies do some form of A/B testing like this, but how much difference does it really make?

Turns out, quite a bit.

Case Study: Enhancing Email Engagement with A/B Testing

This example is from deep in the RevBoss vault, but it’s strong evidence that A/B testing is absolutely worth the extra effort if you want to enhance engagement and lead generation.

For context, we used this messaging to target medspa / dermatology clinic owners and founders for a marketing agency that we’ll call McMann & Tate (and just to get it out of the way, no supernatural nose twitching influenced these results).

Here was the first email in a 3-email cadence that we wrote:

The second email remained the same for both versions.

And here was the third email:

Half our initial prospects received Email #1 first, with follow-ups that included Email #3. The other half received Email #3 first.

By the time we had enough data to sink our teeth into, Email #1 had produced a fair number of responses. The reply rate was sitting around 2.8%, but none of them were leads.

Email #3’s reply rate was comparable, but it had a lead rate of 0.66%. 

We made a strategic shift to prioritize Email #3 for the remainder of the campaign, and the lead rate held steady.

Why Email #3 Outperformed

There were several distinct differences between the emails we wrote for McMann & Tate.

Instead of personally introducing the sender and the agency like we did in Email #1, Email #3 started with an observation about the limitations of Facebook and referrals for growing businesses.

If you think of an email as a small-scale story, Email #3 brings the prospect into that story immediately, starting with “I’m sure you’ve noticed…” and then asking if their team is happy with patient acquisition.

Email #1 takes a little bit longer to get there, focusing first on what McMann & Tate typically does for medspas.

That’s still a relevant piece of information for prospects who themselves are running a medspa, but “you” is a much more powerful word than “we” in outbound, and waiting to use it may give prospects the excuse they needed to hit delete.

Both messages clearly state McMann & Tate’s offer and the benefit, but Email #1 goes into more detail about their process than Email #3. Nine times out of 10, how you achieve a desired result won’t be what piques a prospect’s interest in a cold introduction.

Briefly touching on the “how” (“FB ads, email marketing, and more”) is less overwhelming than listing everything they cover in their initial audits.

(Obviously the guaranteed results we mention in Email #3 are going to be enticing no matter what, so anytime our clients have a something-for-nothing offer, we encourage them to leverage it.)

Which brings us to the CTA. Neither one is pushy, but the phrasing in Email #3 is noticeably more relaxed. Unless they’re actively looking for your services, most prospects won’t volunteer to be pitched, so explicitly putting that fear to bed makes it easier to say yes.

The Value in Regular A/B Testing

Imagine you’re McMann & Tate. You send this email campaign exactly as written — Email #1, Email #2, Email #3 — and you come up empty-handed. 

Unbeknownst to you, Email #3 would have resonated, but by the time potential leads received it, they’d already unsubscribed, checked out, and stopped listening.

That’s the cost of not testing. You leave good opportunities behind.

Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, regularly A/B testing email sequences lets you refine your strategies, tailor your message, and get those optimal results.

Implementing Effective A/B Testing Strategies

Here, we were testing whole messages, but you can absolutely start smaller. Change up elements like case studies or your call to action and see what gets better engagement. 

You may be following outbound email best practices to a T, but at the end of the day, your prospects are people, and what people will respond to isn’t always easy to predict.

Sometimes even a minor tweak can have an outsized impact on your campaign’s success and turn a mediocre effort into a pipeline-filler.

Need An Honest Outbound Partner?

Our outbound email campaigns are informed by years of experience building sales pipelines for companies with a desire for steady growth. Schedule a call with us to find out how we can help you win more clients.