A/B Testing: 3 Tests Our Marketing Team Ran and the Surprising Results

July 12, 2019 Christine Otsuka

Over the past year, we've adopted a culture of experimentation at Uberflip. And we test... everything! It's the only way to optimize and make changes with any amount of certainty.

There's a quote I read recently from Amrita Sahasrabudhe, VP Marketing Fast Med Urgent Care, that really struck home. 

Take a risk and keep testing, because what works today may not work tomorrow, but what worked yesterday may work again.

It's definitely an attitude our entire marketing team has embraced, and in our monthly Be Better newsletter, I walk through all the tests our team has run that month and our (sometimes surprising) results as a subscriber-only benefit. 

Curious? Subscribe to our Hub to see what our team is testing this month!

As a sneak peek at what you can expect, check out the following content from last month's newsletter.

For fun, here are the tests up top. Take your best guess at which versions won and I'll spill all the deets below.

Our A/B Tests 

EMAIL SUBJECT LINES

  • Ok ain't nobody messing with my click, click, click, click vs. Demand experiences that convert

NURTURE EMAIL TEMPLATE

  • Banner vs. no banner

PAID SOCIAL AD CREATIVE

  • The Top Trends Your Peers Are Prioritizing This Year vs.
    We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends vs.
    The World of Marketing Moves Quickly. Are You Keeping Up?

In each case, who do you think won? The answers may surprise you. Before you read below, take a minute to make a guess. And then scroll down a bit further for the results. 

Email Subject Lines

This month, we launched a premium asset called Make the Click Count: Your Guide to Building Demand Generation Experiences That Convert. We wanted to make a big splash with this pillar piece of content since it's a lead driver for our organization and targets one of our top personas. As such, we wanted to capture attention with our subject line to ensure we got the open rates we know this asset deserves.

ROUND 1

What we did: We tested two subject lines. We went hard on the pop culture reference with the very cheeky "Ok ain't nobody messing with my click, click, click, click..." which is a nod to the Kanye West song "Clique." The actual song lyrics are rated R "Ok ain't nobody f*#king with my clique, clique, clique, clique. It was a little risque but also pretty genius when you consider the name of the ebook "Make the Click Count." However, because we knew not everyone is a Kanye fan, we tested this subject line against the much more straightforward "Demand experiences that convert."

Why we did it: Is it enough to say go hard or go home? We know it takes a lot to stand out so we went for it... but also provided a safer alternative. We knew not everyone would get the reference, clearly. See below:

Results: The Kanye version killed it on opens and click-throughs. Point blank period.

Learnings: Being clever pays off for those who get the joke.  We had an intense amount of feedback on this subject line—people who felt we just got them. And that translates into trust and downloads. But for every clever "could go over the recipient's head" subject line you use, you should provide a straight-forward version for those not in-the-know.

ROUNDS 2 & 3

For our second and third version of this send (for those who didn't open the first time), we ran the same A/B test on the subject line, but the results were slightly different.

Results: The Kanye subject line won on both opens and click-throughs.

Learnings: Taking risks with your subject lines can work for the right audience. To mediate the risk, test! Don't be afraid to step outside what feels comfortable to you, because without risk there's no reward.

Nurture Email Template

What we did:  As I mentioned, we launched a new premium asset a few weeks ago, and with any asset launch, we also created a post-download nurture. In the spirit of "being better" we tested the template for the thank-you email. We always send a thank you email post-download to ensure that people aren't just accessing the content but truly digging into it. So in our email, we tested using an email banner or going completely plain text. See below:

Why we did it: We wanted to see if the banner was inhibiting the deep dive or helping. We hypothesized that another classic marketing email could easily be ignored, but a more plain-text version would see greater engagement and click-throughs. 

Results: We were right. The banner-less version won. 

Learnings: It just goes to show that sometimes what looks pretty isn't always the most effective.

Paid Social Ad Creative

What we did: When we're promoting premium assets on social, we like to test the ad copy and creative to see what resonates best for our audience on different platforms. So our social media and content specialist came up with three different versions of the same paid social ad and ran them across both LinkedIn and Facebook. She used straight-forward copy and played around with some more cutesy and informal language.

Why we did it: It's standard practice to use a different voice or approach when posting on different platforms, right? But in order to know for sure, you have to test!

Results: Shocker! The fun, less formal ad copy worked better on LinkedIn than on Facebook. And the straightforward copy performed better on Facebook. Who would have guessed? 

Learnings: Common practice isn't always what will perform best for you. You need to test and re-test to ensure you're making the most of your ad spend and getting the results you are paying for. Sometimes what you think will work on one channel is what everything thinks will work on that channel so what ends up working is the polar opposite. And I think that's what's happened here.

So there you have it! That's just a peek at some of the tests we've been running and the results we've seen so far. 

If you want to see more content like this, subscribe to our Be Better Newsletter and receive inspiration, test results, challenges, and subscriber-only content every month.

About the Author

Christine Otsuka

Christine is an experience-obsessed marketer. Officially, she's Uberflip's Senior Content Marketing Manager, where creating engaging content experiences for marketers is a challenge she accepts daily. She believes that if you can't attract, engage, and compel that next action with your content, then why bother? She also has a thing for pugs, but who doesn't.

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