Measuring Email Marketing – The Basics
Email marketing is an incredibly powerful tool in for any small business. Email still out performs many other forms of marketing techniques in its bang for buck.
If you are sending email campaigns then it’s important that you measure how well they are performing. This allows you to see what’s going well and more importantly what isn’t.
You can measure a whole host of email metrics, here we cover some of the basics that you need to understand before delving further.
All good Email Service Providers (ESP) have basic reporting, many have complex reporting that gives you lots of insights into how your customers interact with your emails. For now we’re going to concentrate on some of the basic metrics you need to understand.
Ideally run your reports 5-7 days after the campaign has been broadcast.
Here are some of the basic terms you need to understand your email results
Open rate – the number of people who opened your campaign.
Click through rate – those people who clicked on a link in your email campaign.
Hard and soft bounces – those emails that bounced. Hard bounce being a permanent problem, soft bounce being a temporary one.
Unsubscribes – the number of people who unsubscribed from your campaign/list.
Complaints – the number of people who reported your campaign as spam.
The open rate is the number of emails that were opened by your subscribers. Normally presented as an actual number and a percentage.
Open rates vary, depending on your list, any segmentation you applied, the subject line used and your overall delivery rate.
We’ve seen clients with open rates varying from 10-70%, generally the better your list is segmented or targeted the better the open rates will be.
There are a number of things you can do to try and improve your open rates
Test subject lines – so often neglected, the humble subject line is one of the most important parts of your campaign. Experiment with personalising it, adding an offer or asking a question, something to raise the recipients curiosity.
Try varying the ‘from name’ of your campaigns. Experiment with just your company name vs an actual name. This can often have a positive effect on open rates.
A/B split testing is a good way to increase open rates. It allows you to test one subject line against another. If your list is big enough test a small segment and roll the winning subject out to the rest of the list.
Segment your data – The more targeted your email is the better it will perform. Try sending emails to people who have shown interests in particular groups of products or services before (They have either bought your product or click on a link in an email)
Click through rates
Click through rate, as the name suggests is the number of contacts that clicked through from your email to your website
Getting contacts to click through from your email is vital to campaigns success.
The click through rate or CTR is a good indication of how engaged your contacts are with your content.
Links can be anything from a simple text link, a button or an image. Whatever you use it’s important to be descriptive and compelling with your call to actions (CTA’s). Don’t assume your contact knows what to do. Tell them. Make sure links look like links and are easy to click on, especially for mobile users.
Having a link as close to the top of your email as you can and ideally ‘above the fold’ can help to improve your CTR.
Hard and Soft bounces
Keeping your list clean is key to helping to get your emails delivered. Ensuring that bounced emails are kept to a minimum goes a long way to improving your delivery rate.
Bounces are emails that cannot be delivered. A hard bounce is a permanent error, usually the email address does not exist or the account is no longer in use.
A soft bounce is a temporary error, sometimes the recipients inbox could be full or there is a problem with the mail server for that address.
Some bounces occur when email addresses have been spelt incorrectly, for example spelling hotmail as hoymail, or adding www to be beginning of the email address. These errors can easily be corrected.
Removing bounced emails from your list will help your emails get delivered. All ISP’s (internet service providers) monitor those sending emails to ‘dead’ email addresses and will block those who continually try to send to these accounts. Good ESP software will remove hard bounced email addresses at the time the campaign is broadcast.
Every email newsletter should contain a link so that your contacts can unsubscribe. The unsubscribe link should make it easy for people to remove themselves from your list.
Unsubscribes should be kept to a minimum, ideally less than one percent of your broadcast. If your unsubscribes increase it can be a sign that your contacts are not engaged with your content.
If you find your unsubscribe rate increasing analyse the messages that produced that increase. Adjust your content to provide more value and measure the unsubscribe rate on further campaigns.
Complaints are contacts that have hit the spam or junk button in their email client. Just like unsubscribes, complaints should be kept to a minimum.
Too many complaints can have a negative affect on your reputation as an email sender and in some cases can lead to you being blocked from sending emails.
Ensuring your unsubscribe process is clear and simple can help reduce the number of complaints. Many ESP’s employ feedback loops which will automatically unsubscribe a contact from your list if they complain.
All of the above metrics can be used to judge the effectiveness of your email campaign and while they can be viewed separately combing several or all of these basic email metrics can give you a valuable insight into how well your email campaigns are performing.