We’ve all heard about the importance of split testing. Rarely do we get to see a master of it in action.
If you’re not familiar, split testing is showing different versions of a marketing/sales piece to different groups of prospects. By measuring the action rate of each version, you can declare a winner and use the concepts from that piece moving forward. In email it’s most common to try different versions of copy. And even more common is to try different subject lines.
This week I got a rare chance to see a master copywriter’s split test in action.
I’m on Frank Kern’s list. He is arguably one of the best copywriters of our day. Especially when it comes to online copy. If you don’t know who he is, look him up after you finish reading this. But, take my word, he’s a big deal.
Now I didn’t realize it, but I’m on Frank’s list twice. So for the first time ever, I received two different emails with two different subject lines from him only minutes apart. The email bodies were identical, but the subject lines were different.
You might think, “What’s the big deal, Neil? You had a 50-50 chance.” Ahhh, but it’s NOT an even split. Let me tell you why…
With a list as big as Frank’s (he probably has millions – yes millions – on his list) they almost always do a split test with a small percentage of the list and use the winner to send to the bulk of the list. In all likelihood, they probably sent the split test to a very small percentage. Maybe 10% of the list – 5% receiving subject line A and 5% receiving subject line B. They then wait a couple of hours to see which subject line gets the better open rate. The winning subject line is then emailed to the remaining 90% of the list – ensuring a higher open rate for the entire list.
So for me to see two versions of the same email is fairly rare. (Pretty exciting for a marketing geek such as myself!!)
Here are the two lines…
A – my SORDID PAST
B – [PICTURES] me in a “dirty” magazine
Which one would you have opened?