Why Split-Testing isn’t Just Splitting Hairs

One of the great benefits of the dotDigital blog is that it gives us the opportunity to respond to regular customer queries and share our response with the wider world!

One question which repeatedly rears its head is whether it is damaging to move away from the convention of using blue underlining for hyperlinks. While design has moved on leaps and bounds on the web, this old little tradition still remains. So it is safe to try something different?

It’s our job to sanity check things like this and leave no stone unturned to work out what will get the best results for our clients.

Blue them away

The internet has been used by the mainstream for well over a decade now and blue hyperlinks are one of the few things that have remained constant since day one. With this in mind, we think any move to alter what is essentially a fundamental part of how the web works should be met with real caution; you wouldn’t suddenly start changing the order of the traffic lights now, would you?

Yes, some users will go with the flow. They’ll see the word is underlined and still know where to click. But there is also the risk of confusing less savvy users. And, in the case of a retailer, for example, this could present a potential obstacle to a successful conversion.

So how can you tell whether a change like this is affecting your users and to what extent?

Easy as A, B…

The answer is testing, of course! While we appreciate a beautifully designed email marketing template as much as the next marketer, there’s no argument against a well-measured scientific approach. You don’t need test tubes for these experiments, just some well-put together software.

So it’s just as well that dotMailer supports powerful A-B testing for creative emails, letting you navigate issues like how to design your links in a scientific environment. Want to know which link was most effective? Put them head to head and see how your audience actually responds. It’s very hard to argue with a concrete result like a click-through rate.

The Email Marketing holy trinity

Looking for other areas to test? Here are another three suggestions:

FROM: How are you displaying who the email is from? Some swear by proper ‘friendly from’ addresses, while others think it’s a matter of B2B vs B2C; do you use a brand or real people? Put it to the test and see what works best for your audience.

SUBJECT: We could (and have) written whole blog posts about the importance of subject lines and the different techniques available. There’s a lot of scope for experimentation and future segmentation here. But don’t forget to consider ideas like personalisation in the subject line and see what works best for your audience.

CLICK-THROUGHS: You can also check your calls to action to see which is the most effective way of getting that all-important click-through.

And these ideas really are the tip of the iceberg!

So next time you have a hunch that there might be a better way of doing things and your colleagues aren’t listening, put it to the test and let your public decide.

If you have any suggestions for other areas to test, chip in in the comments below- the more the merrier!