Peter Drucker, the father of ‘modern management’ said ‘If you can’t measure, you can’t control it; if you can’t control, you can’t manage it”.
If you can’t manage, you are simply wasting your effort and money both.
This is true with your email marketing campaigns. You are simply wasting your marketing budget down the drain, if you don’t measure the success of your email marketing campaigns! You may also be hurting your brand and reputation eventually!
Let us look at the key metrics that you would need to understand and measure the success of your email marketing campaigns.
1. Deliverability: This metric gives you the picture of how many emails were successfully sent out by your email marketing software or provider. Ideally you would need 100%. Practically no email marketing software or provider will guarantee 100% deliverability, because of many issues. The issues range from the hygiene of your list, ISP rejections and blockages, recipient’s inbox full, etc. Deliverability is define as
Deliverability = ((Number of Email Addresses Sent – Number of Email Addresses Bounced) /Number of Email Addresses Sent) * 100%
If you are using a reputable email marketing solution or provider, you should be getting deliverability in excess of 95% to your opt-in list from the first campaign itself. The deliverability for successive campaigns should be in excess of 99%.
If you are not getting these numbers, you should be seeking honest answers from your email marketing solution vendor or provider or the hygiene of your opt-in list.
Bounces are categorized into hard bounces or soft bounces.
A hard bounce is an email message that has been returned to the sender and is permanently undeliverable. Causes include invalid addresses (domain name doesn’t exist, typos, changed address, etc.) or the email recipient’s mail server has blocked your server. Servers will also interpret bounces differently, meaning a soft bounce on one server may be classified as a hard bounce on another.
A soft bounce is an email message that gets as far as the recipient’s mail server (it recognizes the address) but is bounced back undelivered before it gets to the intended recipient. A soft bounce might occur because the recipient’s mailbox is full, the server is down or swamped with messages, the message is too large or the user has abandoned the mailbox. Most email service providers will attempt to deliver the email regularly for a few days. If it is still undelivered, it becomes a hard bounce.
You should be checking if your email software marketing solution or provider
a. Have capabilities to check the invalid email addresses even before sending them out?
b. Allow defining policies for retrying sending again in case of soft bounce?
c. Can export the hard bounce and soft bounce email addresses for further validation?
2. Detailed Domain Report: Just getting a consolidated report of emails delivered across all of the domains is not enough for a marketer. Marketer has to get a detailed report of the performance of the email marketing software on how many emails were sent successfully to each of the domains or ISPs (gmail, yahoo, msn, aol, rediff, etc.), how many were rejected, how many were blocked, what was the number of spam complaints etc. This requires your email marketing software or provider has to work with the ISPs to get these. If they do not, they may not have a relation with the ISPs and have a feedback loop for you to take further action. If you don’t have visibility to abuse complaints of your ISPs and your email marketing provider doesn’t provide them, your reputation will be badly hurt as you can’t take action on those proactively.
3. Opening Rate: This metric gives you the number of recipients who opened the email message. It is defined as
Open Rate = (Number of Emails Opened / (Number of Emails Sent – Number of Emails Bounced)) * 100%
Does your email marketing software or provider give you the measure of both total number of emails opened and unique number of recipient’ openings. You should be considering the total number unique openings more than the total openings because a recipient opening the same mail twice or thrice doesn’t mean anything for the marketer.
The industry standard benchmarks for the open rates are between 8 to 10%. If you are getting better than these results through your current email marketing software or provider, you are doing great. If you are getting way too less, you should be seeking answers from your email marketing software or provider.
4. Click Through Rate (CTR): This is a measure of the action of the recipient seeking more information by clicking the links embedded in the email message sent. This is a measure of the interest of the recipient. It doesn’t necessarily convert to a sale or registration, but it is a step closer. It is defined as
CTR = (Number of unique Emails clicked / (Number of Emails Sent – Number of Emails Bounced)) * 100%
Does your email marketing software or provider give you the measure of both total number of link clicks (for all links, by each link) in the message and unique number of clicks for each link. You should be considering the total number of unique clicks more than the total clicks because a recipient may be clicking the same link twice or thrice doesn’t mean anything for the marketer.
The industry standard benchmarks for the click through rates are between 2 to 3%. If you are getting better than these results through your current email marketing software or provider, you are doing great. If you are getting way too less, you should be seeking answers from your email marketing software or provider.
5. Unsubscribe Rate: This is the number of unique email addresses that do not want further emails from you. They didn’t have an interest in your message so they unsubscribed. Unsubscribe rates are key to recognizing whether or not your content sucks. Just as important, though, is calculating when people unsubscribe. Perhaps it’s on the 2nd email or perhaps it’s the 4th… you need to figure that out and ensure that you provide some great content, especially at danger points when people are more likely to unsubscribe. It is defined as
Unsubscribe Rate = (Number of Email Addresses who unsubscribed / (Number of Email Addresses Sent – Number of Email Addresses Bounced)) * 100%
Does your email marketing software provide you the details of unsubscriptions? Does it provide policies for setting the limit on the emails sent to each recipient irrespective of how many campaigns you may be doing? Does it provide policies to unsubscribe across multiple lists? If not, you are dealing with lot of manual effort in unsubscription and may be not effectively taking actions on unsubscriptions. If you don’t take action on unsubscriptions quickly, your next email marketing campaign may be marked as SPAM by the recipient and complained to ISPs, which could hurt your reputation of being a good marketer.
6. Viral Rate: Hopefully you’ve got some viral component to your emails where they can be forwarded and measured. Don’t dismiss your viral rate… it’s a great way to acquire subscribers who stick as well as add additional revenue to a great campaign. You have to make sure that your method for Forwarding is simple, though. It is defined as
Viral Rate = (Number of Emails forwarded / (Number of Emails Sent – Number of Emails Bounced)) * 100%
Your email marketing software or provider should provide a mechanism to capture all of the forwarded email addresses for later analysis and targeting.
7. Conversions: This is the number of unique email addresses that ’registered’ or ‘bought’. For a retailer, this is pretty simple… it can be the actual registrations or dollar amount that resulted in a web site purchase. For other businesses, a conversion could be different, though. It might be how many people subscribed to your podcast if that’s the call to action. Watching your conversion rate will tell you how well you are ’selling’ your call to action. It is defined as
Conversion Rate = (Number of unique Emails resulting in a Conversion / (Number of Emails Sent – Number of Emails Bounced)) * 100%
This metrics depends on the earlier metrics. If the earlier metrics are good, naturally this metric will improve. This metric also depends on the marketer’s value proposition, attractiveness of the offer and meeting the needs of the customer.
8. Visual Reporting: Providing metrics like clicks visually on your HTML message itself, provides much greater visibility on the performance of your creative in the eyes of the recipients. The marketer can visualize where the interests of the recipients are more or appealing depending on the clicks. The marketer with this knowledge can optimize the creative further for future campaigns.
9. Time Distribution: Do you get to know how are your recipients reading your message over the different hours of the day or days of the week after the message was sent out? Can you recognize a pattern?
The marketing message is all about relevance and timing. Do you want send a campaign that sits in the recipient inbox for hours before they read? It would have lost its timing if it not sent at an appropriate time, when the recipient will have just an hour in the morning 10 AM to read all his personal mails. In today’s world, if your email is not in the first page, then it may not be read at all. With so much spam escaping filtering or irrelevant mails in the inbox, the marketer has to know the recipient reading and clicking behavior during the time of the day and day of the week. The marketer can appropriately time the message during the day or on a particular day.
Hence working with an email marketing software or provider who provides all the relevant metrics for measuring the success of your email marketing campaigns is absolutely essential. The metrics provide you with all the data to measure the success and returns from your campaigns against the money you spent.
In the recession economy, it doesn’t make sense to waste your money and effort on executing marketing campaigns that doesn’t yield results you need.