Has your company just started to implement email marketing? If so, you may still be nailing down the metrics you will use to measure success. Having a clear set of metrics defined is key to measuring your overall successes and failures, as well as deciding on smaller modifications like campaign adjustments. Even a company well-versed in email marketing can always stand to periodically reevaluate the metrics they are using to measure success as goals and business models change.
Let’s take a look some tried and true email marketing metrics that every email marketer should be tracking, and one that you may not have considered before.
1. Open Rate — The open rate is determined by taking the number of opened emails and dividing it by the number of total sends. If you don’t have a company benchmark already established and would like to know where you stand among similar businesses, check out this article from MailChimp on industry open rate standards.
Is your open rate not where you’d like it to be? Take a look at your subject lines. Make sure they are compelling, short and stand out in a subscriber’s inbox. Conduct A/B testing to determine which subject line styles work best for your customer base. Also, consider your mailing lists. Are you sending to everyone, even people you haven’t heard from in years? Email lists churn at a rate of around 30% a year … you don’t want to be wasting time or money on dead addresses. Make sure you are sending compelling offers (clearly stated in the subject line) to people who want to receive your messages. Another item to consider is your send days and times. Deliverability to different email providers varies greatly depending on a variety of factors, but one thing you can easily test is day and time. Test week day against weekend and morning versus afternoon or evening. If you are B2B, a morning email will probably work best, where a B2C company may see better results in the evening when people are off work. You have to test and evaluate to see what will work best for you.
2. Click-to-Open Rate — In this email marketer’s humble opinion, the click-to-open rate is a much more helpful metric than the click through rate. The difference being that the click-to-open rate measures the number of clicks out of the number of OPENS, where the click through rate simply compares clicks against the number of sends. If you are not sending to a fully engaged list (see #1), you are going to have a low click through rate. Whereas, regardless of your mailing list, a click-to-open rate is measuring who clicks through from who opens.
Everyone always wants to improve their click-to-open rate, as a click really measures how interested a subscriber is in your message. Getting them to click through is a true sign of interest. How can you improve this metric? Well, take a look at the emails that perform best. Do graphic-heavy emails entice your customer base, or are text-heavy emails better? Can you improve your call-to-action in any way? Move the CTA up above the fold or add more than one? Are all your links and images clickable — and going to the correct pages? Have you tried testing different shapes and colors of your call-outs? Some customers may respond to buttons where others may click on links. You won’t know until you test.
3. Conversion Rate — Conversion rate is tricky because every business’ idea of conversion can be different. For example, an eCommerce company’s idea of conversion would be that someone clicks through and buys off of their website. But, your company may be a brick-and-mortar or primarily deals with phone calls. If that’s the case, adjust your sense of conversion to be applicable to your business. Maybe the conversion occurs when someone books a service over the phone (make sure you have tracking in place to capture this!) or when someone comes in with the coupon you emailed out to your subscribers.
If you are struggling with your conversion rate, take a hard look at your conversion funnel. An email can only get you so far — the subscriber needs to have an easy and enjoyable trip through your funnel or you won’t get the conversion. For example, you can have a lovely email with clear CTAs and an compelling offer but if your website doesn’t allow the customer to easily check out, you will lose the sale. If you drive people to call your 800 number but no one is there to answer the phone, you will lose the conversion. Deep dive into your company’s conversion funnel … try to emulate the customer experience. If the user experience you have is not optimal, your potential customer’s experience won’t be either.
4. Bounce Rate — For the most part, anyone sending email marketing messages at least will have a website for informational purposes, even if you don’t sell anything on the site. If you are driving people to your website or Facebook page, make sure to track your bounce rate. A bounce rate will tell you if people are interested in what you have to offer or say on your website. If you send them to a boring, confusing or overwhelming landing page, they are going to “bounce.” That means they are going to leave the site instantly. That’s not, of course, what you want. What you want is to get people interested in your website’s content and to stick around. The longer they are poking around your site, the more interested they are in your brand and product offering. The longer they are on your site, the more likely they are to convert!
5. Engagement — Okay, here’s your bonus metric! Engagement really gets to the heart of what you want as a business owner or marketer. You want your customers or prospects to care about your company. You want them to be invested and interested. You want them … engaged!
So, how do you measure this? Well, as an email marketer, I personally measure engagement to be anyone who has opened an email in the last 12 months. If you want to tighten that up and you have the subscriber file to do so, six months of engagement is an even stricter way to look at your subscribers’ interest. A growing engaged subscriber list means more and more people are interested in your emails — the number of people who have opened an email in the specified time period is growing as time progresses.
Another excellent reason to care about engagement is that it will help you with deliverability to email providers. Providers like Gmail and Hotmail are watching to see if your subscribers open your emails. If you are sending to people who aren’t opening your emails, they will notice and possibly mark your messaging as SPAM. You don’t want that! It can take months to fix poor deliverability scores. Work to engage your base and it will pay off and help your open rates as well!