Optimize SMS Marketing With A/B Testing

SMS marketing is a powerful digital marketing strategy that allows businesses to connect with their target audience directly on their mobile devices. However, with so many text messages bombarding consumers every day, it can be challenging to cut through the noise and deliver personalized messages that engage consumers and drive action.

This is where A/B testing comes in — by testing multiple versions of your SMS marketing campaigns, you can identify what works best for your audience and achieve better results.

The Short Version

  • A/B testing is a data-driven and results-oriented approach to optimizing SMS marketing campaigns.
  • By testing multiple versions of your messages, you can identify what works best and achieve better customer engagement and response rates.
  • Aspects of SMS messages that can be changed for an A/B test include message length and content, call to action, and emoji usage.
  • Outcomes that can be used to define success in an A/B test include response rates, conversion rates, and customer experience.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method of comparing two or more variations of a marketing campaign to identify which one performs better (Vwo.com).

In SMS marketing, A/B testing involves creating two or more versions of a text message or campaign and sending them to different segments of your audience or at alternating times. By tracking and comparing the results of each version, you can determine which one is more effective in engaging your target audience and driving the desired action.

The process is data-driven because it relies on collecting and analyzing data to make informed decisions about which version of the text message is more effective for your SMS campaigns. It’s also results-oriented because it focuses on achieving a specific measurable outcome, such as a higher engagement or conversion rate.

The power of A/B testing has been demonstrated time and time again. In 2012, Bing identified several changes using A/B testing to increase revenue by an astonishing 12% — which on an annual basis would come to more than $100 million (Harvard Business Review).

An illustration of a smartphone with two content options marked A and B.

What To A/B Test in SMS Campaigns

There are several elements of an SMS message that can be changed for an A/B test. These include the message copy, the timing of the message, and even the sender’s name or phone number. By changing one variable at a time, brands can determine which element has the most impact in SMS campaigns. Here are some other features that can be changed.

Message Preview

On most devices, the first few words of your message will be previewed in a highly visible push notification. Much like a headline or email subject line, making these words compelling can make consumers more likely to open your text message. Testing different text at the beginning of your message can help determine what resonates with your audience in order to optimize your open and response rates.

Message Length

Testing different message lengths can help you determine how much information your audience wants to receive in one message. Maybe short messages will be more effective for grabbing attention, and maybe longer messages are better for detailed information… The only way to know for sure is to test!

Call to Action

The call to action is the phrase used to encourage the action you want your audience to take after reading your message. For example, “Learn more here” or “Let’s schedule a call.” Testing different calls to action can help you determine which one drives the most engagement and conversions.

Emoji Usage

Emojis can add personality and emotion to your messages, but they can also be distracting or inappropriate in some cases. Testing different emoji usage can help you determine what works best for your audience and aligns with your brand voice.

Outcomes To Define Success in A/B Testing

The outcomes that define success in an A/B test will depend on your specific goals for your SMS marketing campaign. However, some common outcomes that can be used to measure success include the following.

Response Rate

A/B testing can help determine which message or offer resonates more with your audience and elicits a higher response rate. By identifying the best-performing version, you can optimize your SMS outreach to receive the most replies and call backs.

Conversion Rates

You can also base your A/B test on how many conversion actions are taken by recipients. For example, different versions can lead to higher form submissions, enrollments, or sales. Usually, these conversions are measured by website analytics after the recipient clicks through from an SMS. Approximately 58% of companies use A/B testing for conversion rate optimization (Invespcro.com).

Customer Experience

You can also tweak message format, tone, or content style to optimize for the quality of your customer experience. This is a bit harder to measure than more quantitative outcomes like sales. However, it is possible to test this by sending a prompt follow-up survey after an SMS conversation. By learning what messages your audience likes, you can craft messages that are proven to boost customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.


A/B testing can help improve the cost-effectiveness of your SMS outreach by identifying your best messages, offers, and strategies. In doing so, split testing lets you invest more in the outreach that works — and stop spending money and energy on outreach that doesn’t.

Four abstract icons representing response rate, conversion rate, customer experience, and cost-effectiveness. These are examples of goals to use when A/B testing.

By leveraging SMS marketing platforms that enable easy split testing, businesses can test multiple versions of their marketing messages to determine which ones resonate best with their audience. In this way, A/B testing can help businesses achieve more clicks, conversions, and engagement — while also controlling costs.

How Can Drips Help With A/B Testing?

When it comes to optimizing SMS outreach, having a team of experts on your side can make all the difference. Drips’ AI-powered conversational SMS not only supports A/B testing, but also comes with a team of dedicated professionals to help design and implement split tests and other optimizations.

Drips provides a hands-on, managed technology approach, which means you can rely on us to take care of the details while you focus on your business. Whether you need help crafting the perfect message, determining how best to reach your target audience, or analyzing data to uncover valuable insights, Drips can help.

To learn more about Drips’ managed technology approach and conversational outreach strategy, just get in touch.

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