One of e-mail’s great advantages is the ability to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, almost from the moment you hit the send button. Tracking effectiveness is a matter of analyzing reports generated by your e-mail marketing service provider or your internal e-mail marketing solution.

The article, “Are Your E-Mail Campaigns Achieving Results?” appeared in the September issue of the Marketing Maven e-newsletter.  It offers advice on popular metrics to track, determining the success of your e-mail marketing efforts and other metrics to note.

Are Your e-Mail Campaigns Achieving Results?

One of e-mail’s great advantages is the ability to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, almost from the moment you hit the send button. Tracking effectiveness is a matter of analyzing reports generated by your e-mail marketing service provider or your internal e-mail marketing solution.

One note: tracking is only available for HTML e-mails, not text-based e-mails. The reason is that HTML e-mails contain server-based content that visitors touch when they open and click on links in the e-mails, allowing the recording of that action.

Popular Metrics to Track
The metrics most marketers tend to focus on are open rates and click-through rates.

  • Open rate is the percentage of delivered e-mail messages opened by recipients
  • Click-through rate is the percentage of recipients who click on one or more links in the e-mail

While these metrics are important, they may not be the most important or actionable data you can collect for a marketing campaign. Yes, you want to know whether recipients are reading and acting upon your e-mail, but what do you really do with a single report that indicates you have a 31% open rate and 4% click-through rate?

Are those good percentages? Bad? The answer is you don’t know. While there is benchmark data out there, it may not be relevant to your specific market or industry. Open and click-through rates vary widely, depending on the type of message and offer, mailing day and time, business or consumer audience, age and quality of list, and more.

Therefore, the best way to analyze open rate and click-through rate metrics is to track trends. This fits well with business-to-business marketing, since few campaigns are single shots. Most campaigns consist of an integrated series of communications, such as e-mail campaigns that go out before and after trade shows, a regularly published e-newsletter, or an invitation that you send more than once to download a white paper or attend a Webinar.

What you really want to discover with open and click-through rates is how they change over time. Are they increasing, decreasing or holding steady? Increases show that you are engaging customer interest; decreases show the opposite.

Metrics Focused on Results
If open and click-through rates are best tracked over time, then what metrics measure the immediate results of your campaigns? The answer lies beyond basic e-mail metrics and includes conversion rates from the campaign landing pages on your Web site. Landing pages are specific Web pages devoted to a single topic or marketing campaign, usually including an offer or other call to action. Look at “Landing Page or Landing Path: Improving Post-Click Marketing” for more on landing pages.

Respondents to your e-mail campaign typically click through to a landing page where they can fill out forms to take advantage of your offer. Your offer might be to register for a Webinar, download a white paper, subscribe to a publication, enter a contest, attend an event or buy a product.

Here’s where you need to work with your Web team to make sure registrations on your Web site are carefully tracked. For any individual e-mail, and for the campaign as a whole, you can track successful outcomes. How many leads generated, offers accepted, dollars of revenue generated, etc.? These metrics measure effectiveness.

Are Your Campaigns Successful?
The only way to know if your e-mail marketing efforts are successful is if you establish objectives for your e-mail program overall, as well as for your individual campaigns.

Objectives could range from specific revenue numbers to number of leads to a percentage increase in the size of your list. Once you have established your goals, choose the metrics that will measure them. Keep in mind that some metrics such as open and click-through rates are secondary and best tracked over time, while other metrics provide more relevant data about the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing.

If the performance isn’t in line with your objectives, take a look these key areas:

  • List quality — if you buy e-mail addresses from outside sources or don’t confirm opt-ins, you may have a poor list that will drive weak results.
  • Design — if your e-mails are designed poorly, recipients may not take the time to figure out your message. For a look at a well-designed e-mail, read, “What Effective e-Mail Marketing Looks Like.”
  • Irrelevant content — if your message and offer are not matched to your audience’s needs and interests, your results will be poor. Segment your lists according to different audience types, and send each list relevant, targeted offers.

Other Metrics to Notice
Most e-mail marketing software programs and service providers offer a cornucopia worth of metrics, from users’ operating systems to geographic region of the world. Here are a few additional metrics that matter, and why:

  • Unsubscribe rate — the percentage of recipients that chose to opt-out of your e-mail communications. If it trends up, your e-mails are likely irrelevant.
  • Bounce rate — the percentage of e-mails that failed to reach their recipient.  This measures list quality and deliverability.
  • Spam complaints — usually expressed as a total number rather than a percentage, spam complaints are sent automatically by ISPs or individually by recipients.
  • Forwarded messages — most e-mail marketing programs offer the “forward to a friend” feature. This metric tracks the number of times a recipient clicked this button. It measures customer interest, word of mouth and offer quality.

Leave a Reply