Advanced Home Builder Email Marketing Strategies #2: A/B Testing

Turn Web Leads into Buyers #2: A/B Testing

What if you could practically guarantee that prospective buyers on your interest list would open, read, and take action on every email you send? What if you could predict the success rate of your email based on open rate, click through rate, and new appointments? Good news. There’s a science to great email marketing. That means that there’s no hocus pocus to creating winning emails. It’s just a matter of applying simple marketing methodology.

In part one of the Turn Web Leads into Buyers series we talked about the power of personalizing your email message for each specific buyer persona. The next step is to optimize your emails to increase results within each segment with A/B testing.

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing means that you change one element of your email message to improve open rate, click through rate, or conversion from web lead to appointment. Elements can include:

  • Photo
  • Headline
  • Subject header
  • Call-to-action
  • Length of email
  • HTML or plain text
  • Time, day, and frequency

Implement A/B testing as part of your company’s email marketing best practices to improve results and create consistent performance for every email campaign.

Where Should I Start?

Starting your first A/B test is easy. Simply select one element of your email campaign that you want to test. Use data from previous email campaigns to identify problem areas that need improvement. This can be your open rate, click through rate, or conversion from web lead to appointment. A/B testing can help you fix problem areas and keep your sales funnel healthy. Here are a few simple tests you can run:

Test Your Subject Header: A good subject header can be the difference between a new sales office appointment or the delete button (or worse, a spam folder). But what sounds like a good subject header in a marketing meeting is not always what entices buyers. So how can you be sure your subject header hits the mark?

Let’s look at two subject headers for a featured move-in ready home:

  • Subject header #1: See a Virtual Tour of Our Move-In Ready Home
  • Subject header #2: [Watch Video] See Our Featured Move-In Ready Home

The goal of each of these subject headers is the same. We want to promote a move-in ready home. The action is also the same. We want buyers to watch a video virtual tour. But subtle nuances such as using the term “virtual tour” versus “watch video” can actually dramatically improve open rates. Which one is more effective for your audience?

Send an email with subject header #1 to a small portion of your list (5% is a good number depending on the size of your list) and subject header #2 to another small, equal number of recipients from your database. Which subject header has the best open rate? Send the email with the winning subject header to the rest of your database.

Note: some email service providers include A/B testing features to simplify this for you.
Test Your Call-to-Action: Once buyers open your email the next step is to get them to click through your website, blog, landing page, or other action step. A good click-through rate is at least 35% of the people that opened your email. For example:

  • You send an email to a database of 5,000
  • Of those 5,000, at least 1,750 (35% of 5,000) open your email
  • Of those 1,750, at least 612 (35% of 1,750) click through on your call-to-action

The number one rule of A/B testing is to never assume anything. You may think a product photo of your model home will entice readers to click, but your click-through rate may improve with a lifestyle photo. Perhaps it makes sense to you that the call-to-action is “schedule an appointment now” but the data from your A/B test shows that more buyers take action when your email says, “click here.” Maybe you think that a big red button makes your email design look like an obnoxious used car ad, but it results in a 300% increase in click through.

The less you assume, the faster your email marketing results will improve.

Test Your Conversion Pages: Your email marketing reaches prospective home buyers who have already opted in with at least an email address on your website. The goal is to move them to the next step in the buying cycle. Most often this will be to schedule an appointment. There are several tools that you can (and perhaps already do) use to engage buyers to take the next step to an on-site visit. Tools include:

  • Visit the website and Live Chat with a salesperson
  • Log on to your “contact us” page and fill out a form
  • Click through to a specific landing page that has been set up for an event, a specific move-in ready home, a featured floor plan, contest, or promotion

A conversion page is where you send prospective buyers to take the next step. The goal of your conversion page is that buyers have to think as little as possible. The next step should be clear, simple, and direct. If 500 prospective buyers click through to your conversion page but only one or two schedule an appointment or take the next step then your conversion page may need A/B testing to identify the problem. Test different page design, photos, copy, length of appointment request form, and other elements to find out the most successful combination of elements.

If you have a list of web leads that are not converting to appointment consider implementing A/B testing in your own email marketing. Identify and optimize your subject header, call-to-action, and conversion page on an ongoing basis to keep your online sales pipeline full, active, and engaged.


Related :

Turn Web Leads into Buyers #1 : Audience Segmentation
Turn Web Leads into Buyers #3 : Behavior Tracking
Turn Web Leads into Buyers #4 : Email Automation

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Need help with your home builder email marketing? Contact us for more information about email marketing services for builders and developers.


Dawn Sadler

Dawn Sadler is the Founder and CEO of Builder Target. She is also a speaker, author, and content strategist.

  • This is exactly the strategy we apply to all of our email campaigns for our own company and our builder/non-builder clients. Great article! Happy emailing!