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Determining the Optimal Testing Method for Email Campaigns

Intouch Team

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Email may be viewed as one of the more conventional channels in the modern pharma marketers’ toolbox, but it also remains one of the most effective. Though email is widely used in the industry, many marketers fail to take full advantage of the potential power of email campaigns because they fail to test. Testing allows marketers to optimize based on real-time results. Without testing, marketers miss the opportunity to improve the quality of creative and/or content that users receive. Testing, learning and optimizing enables marketers to let data drive key decisions, ensuring email campaigns perform as effectively and efficiently as possible.

This POV reviews two different methods of testing email campaigns and the factors that marketers should consider.


A/B testing and multivariate Testing are two of the most common methodologies used in email testing. Although similar, there are slight differences between these mechanisms, so marketers should do their research before selecting one or the other.  

Multivariate testing: the ability to test multiple variables within an email. The contrasts within each multivariate test tend to incorporate subtle changes (e.g., changing the color of a button, adjusting the subject line, editing the call-to-action, etc.). In order to determine a winner from a multivariate test, the sample size must reach statistical significance, which requires sufficient subscriber volumes. The findings of each test provide insights that inform and enhance subsequent emails.

A/B testing: the ability to test one variable at a time. A/B testing focuses on just one variable at a time (e.g., subject lines, button colors, calls-to-action, etc.). This strategy allows the marketer to reach statistically relevant decisions between options more quickly, as the subscriber base is only split in two.

There are various factors to consider when choosing A/B testing versus multivariate testing. All considerations should be based on the objective of the email marketing campaign. Reference the table below to determine which strategy would be best for your campaign.

Both methodologies can be complex to manage and execute. Therefore, it’s imperative to first clearly define campaign objectives and then develop a hypothesis to test against. The hypothesis will ensure that the goals of the campaign are being met.


While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for testing, it is an important tactic for brands to consider, one that can boost the success of your campaign. Testing allows the marketer to capture and incorporate information (e.g., HCPs prefer orange call-to-action buttons versus blue call-to-action buttons) from current email subscribers and measure email performance optimization (e.g., opens, click-thrus, etc.).

Email testing is an important component of the marketing mix, allowing us to drive the most engagement from every email sent. This is particularly important for the pharma industry, where consumers may be only open to messaging during a specific window of the patient journey. Missing that window can be the difference between positive patient outcomes and nonadherence. Pharma marketers often cite the concern of LMR (legal/medical/regulatory) review requirements as a reason to avoid testing, but the benefits outweigh the challenges. When testing is planned from the inception of an email campaign, LMR requirements can be easily accommodated for all planned design iterations at one time. Often all that is needed to streamline the process for approvals is a walk-through of the test objectives and various versions and variables.

It’s our goal to simplify the life of the consumer by providing them with insightful and useful content, and testing ultimately benefits the end user. Utilizing a testing methodology is still one of the most effective tactics to optimize campaigns, ensuring relevant content reaches and engages subscribers.




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