Best Practices for Email and Journey Testing

Email is one of the most important marketing and customer communication channels, emphasising the value of excellent email marketing for businesses. Ensuring quality emails isn’t about email design and copy alone. It’s also about email and journey testing to optimise your email campaigns for maximum engagement, conversion, and ROI.

However, many businesses don’t test their email content and journeys enough. This can lead to wasted time and money and missing out on opportunities to improve customer engagement and boost sales. This article will discuss the importance of email and journey testing, how it can improve your email marketing results, and give you some best practices to help you get started.

Why test your emails and journeys

The email marketing landscape is ever-changing. According to a report by Statista, the email open rate in 2019 was 24.88%. Although this may seem like a high number, marketers need to optimise their email campaigns for maximum engagement and ROI. To do this effectively, they need to ensure their emails are on point and follow best practises. One important but often overlooked way to ensure email or journey quality goes beyond the standard is by testing them. 

Testing emails and journeys lets you see how email content and flows perform. This helps identify any areas that may need improvement before they go out to your entire email list. Additionally, testing can help reduce the chances of your email campaign ending in the spam folder, generating unsubscribes, breaching SPAM laws, or worse, sending your audience in panic

Best Practices for Email and Journey Testing

There are many different ways to test your email content and journeys. You can test the subject line, the email body, the call-to-action (CTA), even the entire email journey. By doing this, you can ensure your emails are engaging for your subscribers and are driving them towards your goal.

Paul Cheing, our Salesforce Marketing Cloud Practice Director, shared some recommendations to help you avoid sending the wrong email or getting your emails into the spam folder. Here are some email and journey testing practices to live by:

Test email subject lines to help increase your open rate. 

Start by testing subject lines. The first goal is to get your email opened, so this step is crucial for a successful campaign. A good email subject line should be short and sweet with an obvious benefit that explains what the reader will get from opening it.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud offers a few ways to test your subject line. Paul recommends testing how likely the subject line will perform versus previous subject lines, using Einstein’s AI capabilities.

Avoid errors appearing in your email by testing the content.

Once you have the subject line nailed down, it’s time to test the email body. The format of your email body should be easy to read and scannable. It should also include easy to read CTAs as readers scroll through your email looking for the content that appeals to them.

Always test email send times and frequencies.

Doing so lets you see what works best for your audience. You may find that your email performs better at a different time than what you’re currently sending them. It will also help you see how email send times affect email engagement and open rates. 

Salesforce Marketing Cloud has Send time Optimisation which determines the best time to send an email. Salesforce has already considered privacy changes so the model now uses an engagement rate instead of solely an open rate to determine the most optimal send time for a more nuanced metric to ensure more accuracy.

Test how different elements of your email interact with each other. 

Testing how your images, buttons, text, and other email elements interact with each other helps you create a visually appealing and user-friendly email. You can test how changing the email header affects email click-through rates or whether including a video gif increases conversion rates. Using Einstein Content Selection will allow personalised content to be displayed at open time.

Use A/B testing to see which email converts better.

A/B testing is a great way to test email content and journeys. Use this method to test one email at a time, changing different parts of the email (such as subject line or CTA) and seeing how they affect your email engagement rate. Path Optimizer in Journey Builder provides the best way to experiment on what works best for your customers.

Review your Unsubscribe process.

Having an Unsubscribe option is important when sending out emails and ensuring you are compliant with the Spam Act. Ensure a smooth and simple Unsubscribe process (e.g., recipient can easily locate Unsubscribe link) and be clear about your Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statements. It is recommended that your unsubscribe is updating in real time to your source of truth, such as Salesforce CRM.

Assign a different person to test and send the email.

Two pairs of eyes are better than one, so it just makes sense to have one person build the email and another person test and send the email. Having a peer with you when sending emails can also help spot any errors. A Checklist will help with ensuring sign off on the email is robust. Testing across different email providers is recommended; a good tip is to know the domains that make up your database so you can ensure the email has been optimised to render for them. Using tools like Litmus can help.

Create a campaign register to be checked before the send.

One best practice is to have a pre-send go out 30 minutes to an hour prior to the seed list so it can be checked. You can stop the production send should any issues come up.

At AFDigital, we can work on various solutions for you that can also help, such as some code in the email that would raise an error should anything not comply with the defined criteria. — Paul Cheing, Salesforce Marketing Cloud Practice Director at AFDigital

Look into the Approval process in Marketing Cloud.

Implementing the approval process can help ensure you send only the correct final version of the email message. You can configure your Marketing Cloud account, so an email requires approval before it can be sent to an audience. Approvals follow a workflow, which you can learn more about here. 

Test the entire email journey.

When testing email journeys, it’s important to think about the journey’s goal and how you can measure it. Make sure you test each step of the entire email series and any other channels (SMS or push notifications) included in your campaign. Ensure all pages are linked correctly and lead subscribers in the right direction. Think of the top path as the journey you want your customers to take and join them back to this path if they move away.


Email and journey testing are essential for a successful email marketing campaign. You can ensure your emails are engaging, on-brand, and driving readers towards your goal by following these best practices. Remember to use Einstein tools to help your customer experience efforts.

You can reach out to Paul Cheing or any of our esteemed Consultants if you need advice on improving and optimising your email marketing. Reach out to us today!

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