How to Run Marketing Cloud Email A/B Tests

Marketing Cloud email A/B tests can improve your email marketing success. Here’s how to set up an A/B test and start winning at email marketing.

Marketing Cloud email A/B tests are a great way to experiment with your emails and optimize based on key performance indicators (KPIs). Also known as split testing, A/B testing helps track and monitor variances between two versions of an email (A and B) to see which tactics reach the desired goal. The results can help guide your email marketing strategy.

Email marketing is crucial to any strategy. While some of your audience might be on social media, they all most likely have an email address. A/B tests can help you optimize your email campaigns by understanding how your audience engages with different elements of your emails. It’s important to continually run and analyze tests so that you can deliver more targeted and relevant messages to your subscribers. After executing A/B tests, analyzing the results, and making changes accordingly, you’ll begin to notice an improvement in opens, click rates, and conversions.

marketing cloud email a/b tests

Sources: Invesp and Entrepreneur

Using Marketing Cloud Email A/B Tests

When configuring a Marketing Cloud email A/B test, the system randomly selects which subscribers receive the test and which subscribers are a part of the remainder. This allows you to use the same set of subscribers for A/B tests in the future without using the same group of recipients each time.

Marketing Cloud will then send both versions of your email to the test recipients. You can choose to send the winning version to the remainder of your subscribers automatically when the winner is determined or to come back and manually perform the send. Marketing Cloud tracks email metrics like which version receives the highest unique open rate or highest click-through rate. If you choose to manually perform the email send, you can analyze these results and send the version that best matches your goals to all remaining subscribers.

How to Set Up Marketing Cloud Email A/B Tests in Email Studio

First, define your goal of the test. What are you hoping to get out of this test? Higher open rates and click-through rates are common goals we see amongst our clients. Next, identify your subscribers for the A/B test. You can select a subscriber list, group, sendable data extension or data filter for this email. Then, configure the A/B test in Email Studio:

marketing cloud email a/b tests

1. Navigate to Email Studio. Click on A/B Testing. Click Create A/B Test.

marketing cloud email a/b tests

2. Name your test and add a description if desired.

3. Determine your test type:
Subject Line, Emails, Content Areas, From Names, Send Dates/Times, Preheaders.

Note: If you want to test specific content areas in an email make sure you have placed an A/B Test content block in your email.

marketing cloud email a/b tests

4. Choose test recipients:
click Choose. Select subscriber lists, groups, sendable data extensions or data filters to use.

  • Click Select
  • Determine your test distribution. This is the number of subscribers you are actually sending the test to. You can manually enter the percent or number of subscribers you’d like to test.

marketing cloud email a/b tests

5.  Set the winner criteria. You can choose between:

  • Highest unique open rate (total number of unique recipient email opens divided by the number of emails delivered in the campaign
  • Highest unique click-through rate (CTR) (the percentage of recipients that have clicked on any link in your email message)

marketing cloud email a/b tests

6. Specify the duration after which the system declares a winner.
When running a Date and Time test, the test duration does not begin until the system sends the Condition B email.

7. When running a subject test on a classic email, select whether to have the winning subject line save back to the original email.

8. Schedule test deployment

  • Select a start time: immediately, scheduled, schedule later
  • Select how to send the winning email: automatically or manually

9. Configure send options

  • Click use the following from name and address and make a selection from the dropdown menu. Or click select a send classification and select the send classification from the dropdown menu
  • Select a send option
  • Click Finish
  • Click Confirm

marketing cloud email a/b tests

We hope with our guidance you’re able to successfully set up and run Marketing Cloud email A/B tests and can use them to optimize your future email campaigns.

About the author

Adrianna is a marketing consultant for Kadence Collective and Kadence Digital. She is a content creator fanatic and loves creating campaigns both paid and organic to help companies meet their goals. In her free time, she likes to explore the city of Austin, trying new restaurants, going to concerts and networking with others.