There are more than 3.9 billion daily email users and more than 319 billion emails sent and received each day. With all those messages flying through the air, it can be easy for your marketing to get lost in the fray.
Yet, email marketing is one of the most efficient marketing channels out there. The ROI for email represents a 38X return on investment. For every dollar spent, it generates $38.
However, the key to success relies on deploying email marketing campaigns that get results at every step of the customer journey and optimizing performance over time. You can do that by tracking the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that signal success. By monitoring what’s working — and what’s not — you can improve your performance over time.
The best way to get started is to map the customer journey and measure each step along the way.
Measuring your Marketing KPIs
Of course, to use this data effectively, you need a business intelligence dashboard to track KPIs from different analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, a CRM, project management tools, and your marketing automation platform. This way, you can combine data points to truly see what’s working and what needs improvement.
The best way is to set up an automated system to visually represent your data in real-time. This lets you check the status at a glance, so you always know whether you’re meeting or exceeding your business goals.
The right dashboard can track performance against the KPI and measure the underlying functions that lead to success. For example, if you’re goal is email marketing conversions, measuring each of the steps from delivery to open rates to CTRs to conversions helps you understand the value chain and diagnose any place where sales get stuck. This tells you where you need to adjust to optimize your customer journey.
1. Delivery Rate
Not every email you send is going to make it to its destination. People change email addresses or stop using them, so you can’t expect that every email is being delivered. It is important, however, to keep an eye on your delivery rate. When you see it start to dip, check for undeliverable addresses and cull your list. To calculate your email delivery rate, divide the number of emails that are sent minus bounces by the total emails sent.
Email marketing works best when you can segment your list and personalize your campaigns. Stop wasting time on segments that aren’t receiving your email.
You’ll also want to watch the Sender Reputation score. The Sender score determines the quality of your messages and has a significant impact on delivery rates. You can check your Sender Reputation score for free by using Google’s Postmaster Tools.
You’ll also want to monitor the rate of spam complaints you’re getting. When people mark an email as spam, that information is being sent to your email platform or ISP. If the numbers get too high, the email provider may send your future emails to the spam folder. That’s not good.
2. Bounce Rate
Similarly, bounce rates track undeliverable messages. Low bounce rates let you know you’re working off a good list of email addresses. When bounce rates are high, it may be a sign of a stale list.
High bounce rates can get you flagged by ISPs or platforms and get you blacklisted as spam.
- Soft bounces occur because there’s a short-term issue. For example, someone’s email may be full, or there’s a technical issue preventing delivery. Since the email address is still valid, these emails may get delivered later, so you’ll want to keep them in your list and re-send to soft bounces.
- Hard bounces are invalid email addresses. Check for typos or incorrect information in your database and then flush them.
3. Open Rate
Open rate is one of the key metrics to track. If people aren’t opening your email, they’re not going to see your marketing messages, and they certainly aren’t going to convert.
Open rates vary greatly by industry, brand reputation, and past customer interactions.
You’ll want to track total opens vs. unique opens. This can help you measure an interesting KPI: repeat opens. When someone regularly opens your emails, they’re more likely to engage with you in the future. When someone opens the same email multiple times, it likely means they’ve saved it, and they’re interested. You can use this information for subsequent campaigns to accelerate your email marketing efforts with this segment of your database.
4. Click-Through Rate
If an email is opened, but no action is taken, you’re not going to convert that prospect into a customer. When they do click-through, it’s a positive signal that they are engaging with your content. Your reputation and subject lines are getting them to open, and your content is getting them to click. Congrats! If not, you’ve got some work to do.
You should also pay attention to your Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR). This measures the clicks you get from the people that open your email. If you’re failing to get adequate CTORs, you’ll need to reevaluate your content and CTAs.
5. Subscriber Growth Rate
Monitoring your growth rate for your lists tells you if what you’re doing is working to grow your audience. Since you’re going to lose subscribers over time, you need to constantly be adding new names to your list to remain healthy.
6. Unsubscribe Rate
When someone clicks the unsubscribe button, they’re letting you know they no longer appreciate getting an email from you. This can be a warning sign that you’re sending emails to the wrong prospects, sending too many messages, or your messaging isn’t relevant.
Two big warning flags that should grab your attention right away are:
- Sudden spikes in your unsubscribe rate \
This might surface a problem with a particular campaign or saturation.
- Unsubscribe requests from loyal customers \
When loyalists start rejecting your email, there’s a significant issue
Both of these should trigger an investigation to determine the cause.
7. Conversion Rate
Each part of your email campaign has a job to do. Your list provides valid emails. Your CRM helps you personalize and segment your email. The subject line gets it opened. Your copy leads them to your CTA, and your CTA gets them to click. Once they do, it’s time to convert.
Conversion rates mean different things for different campaigns. It may mean selling a product or service. It might also mean signing up for a webinar or demo, downloading a Whitepaper, or filling out a lead generation form. You’ll want to track each one of these separately for each campaign to monitor effectiveness.
If everything else measures well and you’re not getting the conversions you need, it’s time to dig in and find out the root cause. Look closely at your content and your offers.
8. Revenue per Subscriber
Finally, revenue per subscriber helps you figure out the profitability of your email marketing efforts. You can track this over the lifetime of a subscriber, or you can measure the revenue per subscriber for a particular email campaign.
As Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva, explains, “This single statistic will provide actionable insight for activities beyond email marketing, from on-page lead capture forms to offsite content marketing and more.
Some, like COO of 301 Digital Media Andrew Becks, call this metric the subscriber lifetime value. Becks explains, “The total value in revenue, be it from advertising, product sales, affiliate sales, media value or any combination or valuation metrics, understanding the lifetime value of your email subscribers will help you measure the true contribution to your bottom line that email drives.”
Becks continues: “This analysis can often also help justify investment of marketing dollars in email acquisition campaigns with a focus on optimizing efforts for a positive return on ad spend (paying less for the new subscribers than the subscribers themselves drive in revenue over their lifetimes).”
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The old saying is “what gets measured gets managed,” and it definitely holds true for your email marketing campaigns. Metrics like delivery rate, bounce rate, and open rate can give you a clear understanding of how well your ESP is performing along with your subject lines.
On the backend, metrics such as click-through rate, subscriber growth rate, unsubscribe rate, conversion rate, and revenue per subscriber rate provide clear indications of how well your email template design and content resonate with recipients.
Identify the most important metrics for your business and create processes and tools to focus on deeply understating the data and using it to improve your campaign results.
Written by our guest writer Matt Shealy
Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between businesses and more than 7,000 local Chambers of Commerce worldwide.