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SMS A/B Testing: What to Start Testing
SMS Marketing Best Practices

SMS A/B Testing: What to Start Testing

Voyage’s A/B testing feature enables you to easily create multiple variants of a Campaign and experiment with different variables to optimize your SMS performance. Here's how to make the most of it.

June 1, 2022

“The A/B test can be considered the most basic kind of randomized controlled experiment,” said Kaiser Fung, founder of the applied analytics program at Columbia University. A/B testing, as marketers know, is a simple, yet extremely effective way to make noticeable impact to click-through rates, conversions, and ultimately revenue. 

I mean, we’ve all learned the devil’s in the details, right? 

Generally A/B testing will be performed on a subset of a total list (10-20%). Results are measured for the key decision variable (CTR or conversion rate), and the winning variant is sent to the remaining list. 

SMS stats already look incredible with 98% open rates and brands reaching a 30%+ click-through rate. But if your brand can A/B test SMS campaigns to make them even more effective, you will truly be able to utilize SMS to its fullest potential. 

What to A/B Test for SMS Campaigns 

A/B testing is the process of comparing two versions of an SMS campaign to figure out which performs better. Every brand has its own personality, nuances, and target markets, which is why it’s vital to test what works for you. That being said, here’s a few different SMS variables that we suggest testing: 

SMS Sending Times 

You want to catch clients at the right time to buy. Research done by the mobile research firm, MobileSQUARED, has shown that more than 90 percent of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving it. 

Across Voyage clients, we’ve noticed the following trends:

  • Wednesday: Highest click-through rates (CTR)
  • Tuesday & Thursday: Highest conversion rates (CVR)
  • Weekdays: Early AM & Lunchtime are the most effective
  • Weekends: Late Morning through Early Afternoon is the most effective

These trends could always change, but they're a good starting point for planning.

Variations of Images and GIFs 

Images and GIFs can be a great way to improve your SMS experience and can improve your campaign results. A/B testing is a great way to see what creative resonates best with your subscribers. For example, test using a stagnate image vs a GIF. 

There are a couple of campaigns that we would recommend adding creative to based on our data. If you are not using creative in these SMS campaigns, set up an A/B test to see if you can improve your results. 

  • Welcome Series: Include an image reflecting your brand's voice and tone to build a deeper relationship with your customers. Images can directly increase initial conversion rates.
  • Brand Building & Awareness Campaigns: Brands should engage with their subscriber list ideally once per week to keep their SMS subscriber lists warm. Not doing so can risk your lists feeling exploited only for sales and conversions. GIFs/MMS and emojis (where it fits with your brand voice) are often best used to build brand equity with prospective and current customers in an authentic way.
  • Product Launches & Waitlists: Showing the product with a visual image increases conversion rates. If you are promoting a broader product line, create a GIF to highlight multiple SKUs.
  • All Conversion Drips: For abandoned browse, cart, checkout, and back-in-stock notifications, inclusion of a dynamic product image increases conversion rates for high intent customers. 

Discounts or Offers 

All brands want customers to see their logo or social post and for them to feel those warm, fuzzy feelings. Well, offering your customers discounts can do just that. A study done by Dr. Paul Zak, professor of Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University, found that when people received a $10 voucher had a 38% rise in oxytocin levels and were 11% happier than those who did not receive the voucher. 

Discounts can also attract new customers, build loyalty, increase sales, and so on. A/B testing is the perfect opportunity to see what types of discounts move the needle for your CTR and sales numbers. 

If discounts don’t make sense for your brand, there are other offerings such as free shipping, being the first to shop sales or product drops, and free returns.

A/B testing discounts or other offerings also gives you insight into your customers and what you should consider highlighting more on your website or product pages.

Other A/B Tests

There are plenty of other things you can A/B test in your SMS campaigns, including: 

  • Emoji usage 
  • Message copy 
  • Message length 
  • Discount expiration length 
  • Offering buy now, pay later payments

Voyage’s A/B testing feature enables you to easily create multiple variants of a Campaign and experiment with different variables to optimize your SMS performance.

How to Create an SMS A/B Test?

Voyage makes it easy to create and execute A/B tests for SMS campaigns. When creating a Campaign, you can simply click the “Add A/B Testing” that will allow you to create and edit each up to four variants separately. 

Once you have created your variants, you will choose the start time of when your variants will be sent and the number of subscribers that will be exposed to the A/B test. The winning variant is determined by the variant with the highest click-through-rate (CTR) and will be automatically sent to the remaining portion of your audience.

The possibilities for A/B testing are endless, but no reason to stress. You can achieve perfection by testing one element at a time. 

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