The Marketer’s Guide to Holiday Testing

The Marketer’s Guide to Holiday Testing

The holidays are a make-or-break time for many businesses. And for marketers, the pressure is on to deliver results that will impact the bottom line. 

To do that, you must be strategic in your approach, starting with testing.

Testing allows you to try different tactics and strategies to see what works best for your business. It’s the only way to know what will resonate with your audience and result in conversions. 

With the right holiday testing plan, you can take your marketing game up a notch and avoid the dreaded holiday marketing fail.

You can run a few different types of tests during the holidays to see what works best for your business. A/B and multivariate testing are all great options that can help you fine-tune your holiday marketing strategy. 

Let’s explore each of them in more detail:

A/B Testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, compares two versions of a campaign to see which performs better. This type of test is particularly useful for testing subject lines, call-to-action buttons, and email content. 

To run an A/B test, simply create two versions of your campaign—Version A and Version B—and send each version to a separate group of recipients. Then measure the results to see which version performed better. 

You can also use A/B tests for bigger-picture items like overall concepts, target audiences, or platforms. 

For example, let’s say you’re considering running a holiday sale campaign on both Facebook and Instagram, but you’re not sure which platform will perform better. 

In this case, you would create two separate campaigns for each platform and track the results to see which one drove more sales. 

Remember, you can only test one element at a time when using this method, so choose your variable wisely. 

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing is similar to A/B testing, but instead of comparing two versions of a campaign, it involves comparing multiple versions of a campaign. 

This type of test is best used when you want to test multiple variables at the same time—like headlines, images, and call-to-action buttons—to see which combination performs best. 

Like with A/B tests, you’ll need to create multiple versions of your campaign—each with a different combination of elements—and track the results to see which one performs the best. 

Remember that multivariate tests can be complicated to set up and require significant traffic levels to yield accurate results, so they may not be suitable for every business. 

Fundamentals: How to develop a holiday testing strategy

Now that you know the different types of holiday tests you can run, it’s time to develop a testing strategy. 

To do that, you’ll need to set some goals, choose your test variable, create your test versions, and determine how you’ll measure success. 

Set Goals

Before you start testing, it’s essential to set some goals. 

What do you hope to achieve with your holiday tests? 

Do you want to increase sales, drive more traffic to your website, or boost engagement levels? 

Knowing your goals will help you choose the correct test variables and measure success.  

Besides general goals, it can also be helpful to set some specific goals for each test you run. For example, if you’re testing a holiday sale campaign, your goal might be to increase sales by 20% compared to last year. 

Having specific goals will give you a clear target to aim for and make it easier to measure the success of your tests. 

Choose Your Test Variable

Once you’ve set some goals, it’s time to choose your test variable. This is the element of your campaign that you want to test. 

As we mentioned earlier, some standard test variables include:

  • Subject lines
  • Call-to-action buttons
  • Email content
  • Target audiences
  • Platforms

And, of course, overall concepts. 

When choosing your test variable, it’s essential to keep your goals in mind. What do you hope to achieve with your tests? Choose a variable that you think will impact your goals the most. 

Create Your Test Versions

Now that you’ve chosen your test variable, it’s time to create your test versions. If you’re running an A/B test, this will involve creating two versions of your campaign—Version A and Version B—with the test variable being different in each one. 

For example, if you’re testing different subject lines, Version A might have the subject line “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” while Version B’s subject line might be “Time to Get Your Holiday Shopping Done!”

If you’re running a multivariate test, things will be a little more complicated, as you’ll need to create multiple versions of your campaign, each with a different combination of test variables.

Once you’ve created your test versions, it’s time to launch your campaign and see how each version performs!

Collect Enough Data

When it comes to testing, data is everything. The more data you have, the more accurate your results will be.

Ideally, you should aim to collect at least a few hundred responses for each campaign version. If you’re running an A/B test, this means having at least a few hundred people see and interact with each version of your campaign. 

If you’re running a multivariate test, you’ll need several hundred responses for each combination of variables.

Of course, collecting this much data can take time, especially if you don’t have an extensive list of contacts. If you’re short on time, you can try running a smaller test with a limited number of people. Just keep in mind that your results may not be as accurate.

Measure Success

Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to measure the success of your campaign. To do that, you’ll need to compare the results of your different versions and see which one performed better. 

When comparing your results, focus on the key metric you’re trying to improve. For example, your metric should be open rate if you’re testing different subject lines. If you’re testing different calls to action, your metric should be click-through rate.

It’s also important to remember that a single metric shouldn’t be the only thing you’re measuring. Depending on your goals, you may also want to look at other factors like bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, or conversion rate.

Choose the Winner

Once you’ve measured the success of your different versions, it’s time to choose the winner. The winning version is the one that performed the best against your key metric.

If you’re running an A/B test, the winner is the version with the highest open rate, click-through rate, or another key metric.

If you’re running a multivariate test, the winner is the combination of variables that performed the best.

Once you’ve chosen the winner, you can implement it as your standard campaign. You can also continue testing other aspects of your campaign to see if you can further improve your results.

Additional Tips for Better Results

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when testing your holiday campaigns:

  • Start early. The sooner you start testing, the more time you’ll have to collect data and make adjustments.
  • Plan ahead. Before you start your tests, take some time to plan out what you’re going to test and how you’re going to measure success.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t try to test too many things at once. Stick to one or two variables and gradually add more as you get more experience.
  • Be patient. Testing can take time, so don’t expect to see results overnight. Be patient and give your tests enough time to run their course.
  • Be prepared to make changes. The whole point of testing is to find ways to improve your results. If a certain version of your campaign isn’t performing well, be prepared to make changes.
  • Be flexible. Testing is an iterative process, so be flexible and willing to adjust your plans as needed.
  • Have fun. Testing can be a lot of work, but it can also be enjoyable. Don’t forget to enjoy the process and have fun with it.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your holiday testing and ensure your campaigns are as successful as possible.


Testing is an essential part of any successful marketing campaign. If you want to improve your results this holiday season, test different aspects of your campaign, from subject lines to calls to action.

By following the tips in this article, you can set up a successful testing program and find ways to improve your holiday campaigns. So what are you waiting for? Get started today and see the results for yourself.