What to test

Some example variables you can test and optimize with Motiva

David Gutelius avatar
Written by David Gutelius
Updated over a week ago

Here are examples of different variables and variation combinations that Motiva customers often get big impact with. Once you've determined your overall testing goal, focus on optimizing email strategy to directly impact that goal. Here are variables to consider.

Subject lines

This is the first thing your audience will see and will affect open and clickthrough rates, so it's worth spending some time on. You have so many options here.

Be sure to leverage Motiva's Subject Line Analysis tool to help you generate the highest quality variants.

Tip: Take an existing campaign subject line and run it against “new and improved” versions. This can be a great way to baseline your engagement performance with Motiva!

From: name / address

We have consistently found that the name and email address shown on emails can make a significant difference to open rates. These differences can vary by industry and audience demographics. But in general: contacts are more likely to open emails if the “sender” elicits either curiosity or recognition. So try some different options here other than your standard “Do-Not-Reply” persona - that’s not exactly a friendly-sounding sender…

You can try using a real-sounding (or actually real) person versus a generic company email, test out if gender makes a difference (hint: it often does), or all of the above.

Preheader (aka secondary subject line)

Another great option for improving your open rates is spending time thinking about your preheader strategy. What’s a preheader? This is the first bit of text that displays in email clients along with your email’s subject line and sender. Like the subject line, it’s generally not formatted. But a great preheader can give contacts a preview of your message, a prompt, or otherwise stoke curiosity.

Preheaders are especially critical if your customer is opening your message on a mobile device. Since 70% or more email gets opened on a mobile device these days, it should be a critical part of your message optimization strategy.

Rapid open rate optimization with Motiva's multivariate testing

Try generating three main subject lines and two secondary subject lines (also called preheaders), which gives you a total of six variations to test. Simply select those assets in the Motiva configuration screen and watch Motiva optimize towards the best combination


A header is the first section of your email and the first thing your audience will see if the open it. Try pitting some really different header ideas against one another. You could try no text and go straight to an image or even linked CTA. You could try versions with and without personalization. Try mixing longer or shorter headers.

Keep in mind that once someone has opened an email, you typically have very little time to get them interested in taking further action (if that is your goal). So whatever you try with a header, realize, that it's part of the space "budget" you are using up in your end goal of getting the reader to take action.

Header images (or no image)

Linked to the above, Motiva customers get very creative with using images to drive interest, curiosity, and action. Use what you've learned about your audience to try very different images that might appeal. Always also try a "plain" version with no image to ensure that images make a difference at all.

Long form / short form

Do audiences respond better to longer form of your email or shorter form. As always, ensure whatever your variants are, they represent a wide spectrum from long to short in order to get a clear answer to this question!

Layout elements

You have many options here, depending on the goal you have for your email. But it's often best to see if a simple version works better than a "high-design" or complex version. We often often that simple regularly outperforms more complex designs.

Try using Eloqua's dynamic content blocks to play with different personalized copy, and always try a version that uses no personalization (or is just generic) along with other variations.

HTML vs plain text

You can also try throwing in plain-text variations into many of the tests outlines here to see how much of an impact ANY HTML has on your response rates. This is often linked to the type of email you're sending but it can be a super-low effort way to boost your emails.

Copy: tone

Try testing out your copy phasing and tone. You can see if taking a highly targeting approach that maps to your ICP makes a difference, or whether a more neutral approach is better.


Try creating quick variations that allow to test out different CTA phrasing, design, images, and placement in the email.

Happy hunting!

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