Marvel Marketing Minute – Testing Strategies That Create Irresistible Subject Lines

Our superheroes just gave you some great advice about A/B testing different things in your emails, but what about A/B testing to see what makes your audience open emails?

Subject line A/B testing is part-science and part-art, and over time, it will tell you what words, phrases, and formats are most likely to grab your audience’s attention. But how exactly do you perform these tests?

Here are 4 testing strategies you can start using on your next send:

1. Question vs. Statement

Is your audience more intrigued by seeing a question pop up in their inbox, or do they prefer seeing an information-packed statement? For example, there’s a big difference between:

“Why are so many enterprises moving into the cloud?” vs. “Enterprises enjoy the flexibility that cloud migration offers”


2. Positive vs. Negative

Fear can be a huge motivator, but it can also be a big turn-off for some people. By running this subject line test, you can determine how to use (or not use!) fear in your emails. For example:

“See how 75% of IT departments keep up with changes in technology” vs. “25% of IT departments are struggling to keep up with changes in technology”


3. Beginning Placement vs. End Placement

Some audiences are so pressed for time that they want to see the focal point of each email immediately—even within the first word or two. Others, of course, want you to get to the point, but they’re a little bit more patient. Here’s how you can structure this type of test:

“Protect your data with these 3 tips” vs. “3 tips for protecting your data”


4. Short vs. Long

While you should always strive to keep your subject lines as concise as possible (after all, the average subject line is only 51 characters), some audiences respond best to copy that’s ever shorter, sweeter, and more straight to the point. For example:

“Join us for a webinar” vs. “You’re invited to a webinar with our marketing experts”


Just remember—keeping track of all the data is just as important as the copy you use. I suggest creating a spreadsheet where you can store all of the details:

And finally, remember that it can take time for these subject line tests to produce definitive results. Don’t make any decisions after one or two sends. Run your tests, analyze the data, look for trends, and eventually, you’ll end up with a winning format!


Posted by Nicole Pytel

I'm a content strategist/writer/superhero who has helped brands be more creative since 2010, a former TV newsie, and a native Floridian who loves to soak up the sun with family and friends.