Email marketing: Powerful metrics = success

Posted By: Dave Kopf
Post Date: 02/14/2017

THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL email marketing is measurement. Unlike print ads or direct mail, email offers stores and shops a marketing tool that is not only effective, but also measurable.

For instance, when you snail-mail a brochure to your market, you have no idea whether they chucked it in the trash without reading it, or if they opened it and read the message. But with an email, you can ensure it reaches your intended targets, and find out whether they open your email or not. This lets you identify successful messages and campaigns as well as promotions that could have done better, and get some clues as to why those messages were successful or non-starters.

Any good email marketing service provider will provide you with a variety of statistics on your email marketing effectiveness. Let’s take a look at some of the key metrics you should be following:

Total opens
This statistic is as simple as it sounds: Total opens measure the total number of times your emails were opened by your audience. This lets you see how well your marketing messages are appealing to your total email list.

Open rate
The open rate shows your total opens divided by the number of times that email was sent, to give you a percentage of the rate at which that message was opened. If you see several messages that have particularly high (or low) open rates, you can start to compare those message for similarities. Perhaps their subject lines or pre-headers are similar, or maybe the content is similar, or you sent out the email on a particular day or at a particular time.

Click-through rate (CTR)
Ideally, your email marketing messages will compel your recipients to take action, and typically the way they will do that is by clicking a link in the email. The click-through rate shows the number of times recipients clicked on a link in your emails as a percentage of the number of the number of opened emails. CTR is the main email marketing metric used to judge email effectiveness. In the United States, the median open rate for all emails is 2.2 percent. In terms of markets, the open rate for consumer products is 3.3 percent, consumer services is 2.6 percent, and retail is 2.7 percent. Those statistics should give any Dealer a good baseline on which to judge its click-throughs.

Conversion rate
If your store is doing any e-commerce, this is a key statistic. Conversion rate shows the rate at which an email message converted recipients into customers. If, for example, you sent an email promoting your web store’s special on gloves, the conversion rate shows how much of your list actually went and bought gloves. Based on that, you can also start calculating the overall revenue that email generated, and if your store does a fair bit of e-commerce, then you could even track average revenue per individual message, and total revenue per email campaign.

Unsubscribe rate
While no one likes this statistic, it’s an important one, because it can save you from perpetuating mistakes. The unsubscribe rate shows the number of times users unsubscribed from your email list as a percentage of the total number of times a particular email was sent. If you see the unsubscribe rate spike for a particular message, then you’ll want to start untangling the reasons that message turned off your users. Perhaps it was content. Perhaps there was an error. Perhaps it was too far afield from their interests.

Bounce-back rate (or bounce rate)
This describes the number of times a message never makes it to a recipient’s email address. The statistic is sometimes broken into two sub-statistics: hard bounces and soft bounces. Hard bounces are when an email system rejects a message because the address no longer exists or the email server is classifying your message as spam. Soft bounces describe the number of times messages are rejected for “softer” reasons, such as an inbox being full.

These days, because server space isn’t at a premium, usually users are not required to frequently clean out their inboxes, so soft bounces don’t occur as frequently as they used to. But hard bounces are a key concern, because if you keep sending emails to address that repeatedly generate hard bounces, that email system will suspect you of being a spammer. So monitor your bounce rates, keep your list clean of bad addresses, and make sure your messages are free of keywords and phrases that might trigger a spam filter.

Abuse rate
This is the number of users out of 100 that have marked your message as spam. The average complaint rate is 0.2 percent. If your rate gets well above that, you need to start looking at the reasons. Is your email content far off from your market’s interests? Does the email use “spammy” terms in its subject line? Does the email make the unsubscribe link so hard to find that users simply categorize the message as spam to save time?

Your bulk email provider may offer more email marketing statistics, but the above are the key metrics by which all email marketers measure their campaigns’ effectiveness. If you’re not measuring your email marketing, it’s time to start tracking these statistics on a regular basis so that you can start working toward improved results.


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