Time to talk numbers. With traditional print marketing you were largely guessing how successful your campaign was, but email enables you to track its success. You can measure where your emails are going (hopefully not people’s spam folders), who’s opening them and whether they’re clicking the links. If you know what’s working you can build on it and finding out what’s not working can help you revise future mailouts.
Your platform will offer you tracking features. Different platforms and packages will offer varying degrees of detail, but initially you ideally want information on the following categories as a bare minimum.
- Sent. The number of people on your mailing list.
- Bounced. Addresses that are no longer in use or incorrectly entered – double check.
- Opened. Woo hoo! These people are interested in what you’re saying.
- Clicked. Double woo hoo! These people have visited your site!
- Shared. Forwarded to another address or shared on social media.
- Marked as Spam. Why does this person think this?
- Unsubscribed. Get over it, but perhaps get closer to finding out why people are opting out
- Industry Average Open Rate. How your emails compare with the competition.
Once you’re up and running with your email newsletters, you’ll want to ask the following questions to find out more information about your customers’ email habits.
- Where in the world are your customers?
- What device/browser are they using?
- What day are they opening your emails?
- What time are they reading them?
Having all this information in hand will help you tailor and target your subsequent campaigns. For example, if you’re sending all your emails on a Tuesday at 10am, but the majority of subscribers are opening them on Wednesday between 12 and 4pm, you might want to think about changing the time you send them. Equally, you may discover that a lot of your subscribers are based in the US, so you could put an American spin on some of the content of your newsletters. It’s worth noting that some email services will send smartly for you, for example, they will depending on the users time zone.
If you find a lot of your subscribers are accessing via a smartphone or other mobile device, it is essential that your themes/templates are responsive. Refer back to What platform to use for more info on this.
Your main concerns are your Open Rate, Bounce Rate and Click-through Rate
Check your Open Rate about 48 hours after your email has gone out to give people time to look in their inboxes. If it’s looking a little low, there are lots of things you can try to improve it, such as having a great subject line and making it clear who it’s from (more of these later). Surveys show that regular emails have great open rates, so stick to that schedule. It can also help to have a clean up of your list now and them, to rid it of out-of-date addresses.
There are many reasons why an email bounces (which we’ll go into in the Why Don’t They Like Me? module) from typos in addresses (check, check and check again) to recipients being on holiday. Help to keep your Bounce Rate low by encouraging subscribers to update their details and removing undeliverables from your list. Note that you should never edit/correct an email username (that’s the bit before the @), you may get a bounce from someone which clearly looks like a typo, but people have really obscure email addresses and your correction could be a different person altogether! This is why opt-in is so important, it means not only has the owner of that address given you permission to use it, but they’ve also confirmed that is a valid email address.
Your Click-through Rate is pretty much down to you and whether you have strong calls to action, striking design and engaging copy in your newsletters. We’ll help you with that in the next two modules.
It can be disheartening when you see that only 20% of your subscribers actually opened the beautifully crafted, carefully edited mailout you slaved over, and even fewer actually went on to look at your site. But don’t break out the violins just yet. Just because someone didn’t have time to open this particular email, doesn’t mean they won’t open the next and it at least plants your store’s name in their consciousness.
Also, 20% isn’t too bad. Sign-up.to releases an annual Email Marketing Benchmark Report for small to medium UK-based businesses. The 2014 report, based on 1.5 billion emails sent between 1 January and 31 December 2013, revealed the following averages across 25 categories.
- Open rate: 22.87%
- Click-through rate: 3.26%
- Unsubscription rate: 0.53%
MailChimp reports similar figures for its 7 million global users – check out their results here. When you’re choosing a platform, find out what analytics they offer – visuals such as graphs and charts can often make sense of a jumble of numbers and identifying trends among your subscribers is a sure-fire way to ensure your emails are reaching the right people at the right time and therefore improve your click rate.
Getting Deeper with Google Analytics
If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, it’s a stats package which shows you the full customer picture across ads and videos, websites and social tools, tablets and smartphones. That makes it easier to serve your current customers and win new ones because you understand them. Google Analytics, and other similar stats packages, allow you to tag links so you can see exactly where the traffic to your website is coming from and going to in depth. This can be really useful when your campaigns grow and you start investing more financially. You’ll start getting a real feel on the return of investment. You can find more about Google Analytics here. It’s also worth noting there are several online email marketing solutions that automatically apply Google Analytics campaign tags to the links included within your emails including Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, VerticalResponse and AWeber. Saves you a job!