A/B Subject Line Testing: What is it and why is it important?

Pharmaceutical Email Marketing A/B testing

Plan ahead for greater success.

A/B Subject Line Testing helps you know which road to take

Prior to sending a marketing email to your target healthcare audience, learning what it is that gets them to stop, acknowledge your message, and engage is significant in the overall success of your campaign. Subject line testing not only provides insight but grows your active audience and extends your bottom line.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a comparison of two versions of the same email with only one element that differs in each version. That one element may include wording in a subject line or call-to-action, personalization/localization, size of a clickable button, fonts, design, formatting, or creative. A valuable marketing tool, A/B testing can show clear differences in how your audience responds to variances in an element. This insight enables you to make the right adjustments needed to optimize your email to its fullest. A slight tweak could have a great impact on opens, clicks, page views, conversions, and the campaign overall.

Why is A/B Testing Important?

A/B testing helps you better understand your audience, so you can develop more relevant content, improve engagement, and increase scripts. This cost-effective marketing strategy provides the information you need to make the right adjustments that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line. The more you test the more you will increase your audience’s loyalty by acknowledging their preferences, providing relevance, and being consistent.

How Does Subject Line A/B Testing Work?

Testing Subject Lines
When deciding which email element to test first, start with the one that your audience sees first. Besides the From Name and Preview Text, the Subject Line initially influences readers to open your email or not, therefore, making it the right place to start testing. The type, tone, and format of your subject line can be tested to see what works best for you, your audience, and your offer.

To test subject lines:

  1. Send your email with one subject line to a sample of your target audience.
    Note: You choose the percentage of your sample lists who will receive the different subject lines for each test.

  2. Send the same email with a different subject line to another sample of your target audience.

  3. Once you have run the test and determined which subject line produces the highest opens, send the email with the winning subject line to the balance of your audience.

A/B Subject Line Testing Checklist

When testing subject lines in your email, you can test multiple options including type, tone, and format.

The checklist below will help you brainstorm subject line ideas and test different variations.

  1. TYPE - Determine what type of subject line you will test from the following examples.
    Question – Want access to clinical trial results?
    What impact is X having on your patients?
    Benefit – Savings offer for your patients
    List – 3 Benefits of X for your cancer patients
    News – Hepatitis C: New treatment video series

  2. TONE - Experiment with different tones for highest response
    Urgency - Create urgency or announce date with time built in for reminders
    Now Approved – A new treatment for xxx
    See the latest study results on xxx clinical study

    Action - Provide specific call-to-action with command and directions
    Request X samples for your appropriate patients
    Read X Formulary Update. Stay Informed.

  3. FORMAT - Select most effective format for your specific audience
    Word Order - Key word and clause placement
    FDA-approved X: Now available
    Now Available: FDA-approved X
    Title Case - Experiment with lowercase vs. uppercase
    Clinical trial results provide new look at treatment
    Clinical Trial Results Provide New Look at Treatment
    Length - Compare few words, short, long, words running off screen
    New Med Device
    Company Z Introduces New Med Device
    Company Z introduces new, innovating med device that will change future of
    Personalization - Add names, specializations, or location
    Dr. Smith, your signature is needed
    Dr. Smith, would you like X samples for your asthma patients?

Subject lines vary in type, tone, and format. It is important to take the time to test and determine what works best for you, your offer, and your audience. The more you test the better you will get to know your audience, their preferences, and what will make future campaigns more effective.

A/B Subject Line Testing with the NOWW Platform

Besides providing 24/7 secure access to quality healthcare data, the NOWW Platform enables you to identify target audiences, A/B test subject lines, perform email broadcasts, and download mailing lists. NOWW provides you the freedom and flexibility to personally manage your email and direct mail marketing when and where you want right from your desktop.

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