So you have decided to begin sharing content, news and updates with customers and prospects with incredibly informative, beautifully designed email marketing pieces.  We commend you.  Email marketing is a great way to build relationships with customers and expand your reach.  Before you get too far into your email marketing campaign take a break to learn about your email marketing metrics, what they mean and how they can influence your strategy.

It takes time to figure out how and what makes your audience tick – so much so that they are wringing their hands in anticipation for your next newsletter (our personal vision of email marketing utopia). Uncovering how your customers interact with email messaging is not a mystery, it is sitting right in front of you.

How to Read Email Marketing Metrics

We have laid out before you a few of the more critical email marketing metrics, what they mean and how they can be improved.  Note that this already assumes you are working with a clean list of emails and a vendor with a stellar delivery rate:

  1. Opens Arguably the most important statistic in your email marketing report. This is a pretty straightforward measure that explains how many people are “opening” your message.

    Most services embed small, undetectable images in emails to track opens.  In cases where an email client is set to not allow images to download or is set up to receive messages in plain text, someone may open the email, but it will not count towards your opens.  Other email clients like Outlook only may show a preview of the email and not download the image.  In other words, this data can and will be skewed.

    Basically, open rates are not an exact illustration of how many people are opening your emails, but rather an estimation.  There is no industry-wide standard for open rates; however, marketing research shows that if you are anywhere in the range of 20% and up you are doing something right.

    If you are dropping below 20%, the first place to look is your subject lines.  Are they engaging customers to read your message?  Are you creating subject lines littered with spam terms?  Try to create messaging that is targeted, as opposed to canvassing all your contacts with generalized information.

    For example:
    Subject A: Get 30% Off Fall Camping Gear Until September 30
    Subject B: Outfit Your Fall Outdoor Adventurer with 30% Off Camping Gear Till September 30

    Subject B speaks to a well-defined target audience. Whether or not they are a camping enthusiasts, they may know someone who is and are more likely to open and find out more.  This also puts to bed an outdated rule concerning subject lines, shorter is not necessarily better.

    Another good way to increase opens is by segmenting your lists.  Try to make segments that all share a similar characteristic and develop messaging specific to their needs and interests.

  2. New Subscribers Some smaller businesses tend to overlook this metric.  They either forget about adding new leads/customers to their lists or don’t even bother to see if their list is growing.  Many times this is a result of too much focus on the aforementioned metric – opens.

    Its true that if opens are low your messages are not being shared and thus new people are not signing up.  Yet  new subscribers can be a good clue to indicate when you are doing something right.  To see this number increase, add an attractive newsletter signup CTA (call-to-action) across all your online profiles: website, social and directory listings.

    You can also Increase subscriptions by integrating an email signup form into your blog. Information seekers are always looking for ways to make content delivery easier and email subscriptions are one of the easiest ways to have valuable content sent in a convenient manner.

  3. Unsubscribes/SPAM These two metrics fall in line with each other and can indicate several problems in your email marketing campaign.  For example, you are sending too much, you are sending at the wrong times or your content is not relevant or confusing, you have a bad list, e.g. recipients have not opted in.

    If you find these numbers consistently increasing, it is time to review your content, sending frequency and scheduling.  Possibly use a survey to find out what people want and what they are trying to avoid.  DO NOT add people to your list who have not opted in and make sure you are giving people a highly visible option for opting out.

  4. Click-Through-Rate (CTR) This calculates the percentage of people who received your email and clicked on any given tracked URL.  Aside from incorporating outside metrics systems, like Google Analytics, this is one of the best ways to measure potential conversions and true interaction.

    There is no preferred CTR.  To get the most out of this metric, revisit segmenting your emails to find key indicators that speak to what is most important to customers sharing common features, like industries or locations.
    Of course, if you do not have any links in your email, this number is going to be very low or non-existent.  Regardless of the purpose of your campaign, it is wise to have at least a couple of links in your messaging. It gives you a better picture of how people interact with your emails.  However, do not go overboard with links.  Too many links can take away from your core message. 

Finish Strong and Expand

These are a few of the most important metrics you can take away from an email marketing campaign.  Most of these can be broken down even further by analyzing social media clicks and interactions, tracking forwards or bounce rates.

One question we get asked most often is: How do I measure conversions?

The only way to get an accurate depiction of conversions based off email marketing initiatives involves additional applications like Google Analytics, coupled with internal website development.

Here at Horton Group we have the tools and know-how to manage complete email campaigns.  We build effective and engaging email marketing content that gets the results you are looking for, while bringing it all full circle with informative analytics tied directly to your website or e-commerce store.