Adding timely, relevant content to a reader’s inbox is an important objective for any email marketing program. So is deciding how that email marketing program will help reach strategic business objectives. Some common strategic objectives of email marketing programs include increasing brand awareness, driving traffic to a website, increasing sales or positioning a brand as an industry leader. Different objectives will suit different organizations based on market presence, competitive landscape and sales goals, among others.
Beyond establishing such objectives, identifying key performance indicators – metrics of analytics that illustrate and support established goals and accurately quantify an email marketing program’s performance – is the next critical step.
Key Performance Indicators
Sophisticated organizations look beyond simple metrics to identify specific performance indicators. Analytics programs such as Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture offer efficient and effective data recording and analysis, which are crucial to email marketing success. For effective campaign tracking, implementing UTM variables – unique, descriptive tracking codes appended to links used in marketing campaigns – helps to accurately identify the email content that is engaging subscribers and driving traffic. Tracking every link to identify the content that is creating audience engagement determines the best performing content versus underperforming content. In addition, implementing tracking codes based on content placement will determine where audiences interacted with featured content. If UTM variables or link tracking aren’t used in emails, most of the traffic driven to a website from an email campaign will be classified as “Direct” on Google Analytics instead of “Email”.
Included below are a few metrics that are important to measure:
Click-Through Rate (CTR) – The percentage of clicks on a specific link based on the total number of emails delivered to subscribers. Relevant, engaging content that is personalized to an audience will assist with increasing CTR. Capturing the click-through rate of content in an email can assist in identifying more products or topics that may interest the reader.
Conversion Rate (CR) – The percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action. For example, a customer ordered a product featured in an email. The consumer may have purchased the product because of the additional touch point and call-to-action provided by the email. An established and engaged audience will likely produce a higher CR, while a lower CR may indicate that the audience and/or email content needs to be fine-tuned.
Bounce Rate – In email marketing bounce rate refers to the percentage of email addresses in a subscriber list that didn’t receive an email because it was returned by a recipient mail server. Email bounces can fall under two categories – hard bounce and soft bounce. Taking the time to frequently clean out subscriber lists will assist in lowering the bounce rate. Sophisticated organizations keep track of unengaged subscribers – those who haven’t interacted with emails in a designated amount of time, as well as unsubscribers – those who opt out of the email program.
Measuring these important metrics will help organizations gain insight into the macro analytical picture. Organizations who are not using data to optimize their email marketing program are missing out on an opportunity to gain valuable insight into their audience. Determining what content performed or underperformed can provide insights to help optimize the message. By using consistent reporting on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, organizations will be able to compare metrics, content and creative. This level of consistency in reporting gives granular insight into the success of an email marketing program and establishes where there are opportunities for improvements.