One of the great things about using email as a marketing tool is the level of feedback you can get from your activity. Use a good emailing system, and you will be rewarded with high levels of feedback from your activities. But which numbers should you focus on, and what do they mean? To kick off 2014, here are my top 5:
1. Bounce Rates
The primary aim of any emailing programme is to get your message into the recipients mailbox. The bounce rate is a measure of how many emails did not arrive as a result of messages being sent to bad addresses or being blocked by content filters. Clearly this is an important measure of the quality of your list. As a general rule:
High bounce rate = Poor list
What should be considered high? Short answer; it depends. In any event, if you see more than 15-20% of your list bouncing, you should be asking questions.
Bounces are also useful in monitoring if addresses change, or contacts move on. It is always worth scanning through lists of bounced emails for contacts you know, offering the opportunity to re contact with them and update your database.
As a general rule if you know an email is going to bounce, it should be removed from the list. Most good emailing systems have the facility to do this automatically.
2. Open Rates
This is often seen as the key metric of email marketing. It is important as an open means that the contact has seen the message. However there are a few things to remember when it comes to open rates:
- An open is only registered when a recipient views the email including the images. As a result, only some of the people who see your email will be registered in the open rate. Although it is certainly a very good measure of engagement it is not absolute, and is more relevant when monitoring trends over time rather than absolute figures.
- A number of people who read your email in their inbox preview won’t actually open the email. However they will have registered your contact, and this has value (this is what we call the “Nudge Effect“). The mere fact that someone has seen your name and subject can have a positive effect, and although not registered in the open rate, should not be underestimated.
- Just because someone is not interested enough to open your email does not mean they are not engaged with your business. Email marketing should be seen as a long term, ongoing initiative The results of a single email ‘send’ should not be viewed in isolation. Looking at the details of recipients who open emails over time, we have found that different people open different emails, so although an open rate for a single email may be 10-20%, the percentage of people who open one or more of your messages over a year can be 50% or even higher.
3. Click through rates
Click through rates measure real engagement with your email. These people have read your message and clicked through to see more information. This statistic is interesting for two reasons:
- A high overall click through rate suggests that your subject matter is hitting the right note with your readers
- Looking at the relative click through rates of different links on the email can give a great indication of which subject your market is interested in. Furthermore it can give a lead into more personal follow up. If you have a content in your email talking about your products /services, the following up those who click through to read more about these subject might be top of your list when it comes to looking at who to call.
4. Unsubscribe Rates
This is another key statistic measures a number of things including the targeting of your list and the relevance of your content, good content well targeted should result in very low unsubscribe rates. Typically we would expect a good well targeted email programme to result in unsubscribe rate of significantly less that 1%.
5. Web Traffic
Although not technically an email statistic, one of the main objectives of an email campaign is to drive high quality traffic to your website. Web traffic from emails should be monitored carefully, with the following expectations:
- There should be a significant spike in traffic when your email goes out. However this spike tends to be short lived as email is a transient medium (hence the reason for always putting the bulk of the content on the website).
- The overall trend in web traffic should be up. If you are starting to engage more with your audience, then traffic should increase. It should be noted however that the level of this increase will be very dependant on the nature of the markets in which you operate.
Any good emailing system will be able to deliver all the stats and feedback mentioned above. Tie this in with Google analytics to deliver the web stats, and monitoring your email campaigns as part of your ongoing business planning will soon become second nature.