Email Marketing 201 - Critical Email Marketing Performance Indicators - Third in a Series

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In this series, we’re covering email marketing strategy across several dimensions: Acquisition, Welcome Email, Performance Indicators, Engagement Programs, Program Logic, Cross-Sell and Up-Sell, Re-Engagement, and Email Marketing Platforms.

Click to read #1 in the series, for #2.

Now that your team has decided to leverage email marketing to grow your database, it’s time to start thinking about how to measure prospect and client engagement. We’ll take a look at four performance indicator buckets: Deliverability, Conversion, Engagement, and Content Performance.

Let’s consider a database of 10,000 customer email addresses with opt-in permission. If we’re working with a relatively clean list, we expect to be able to confirm delivery for all but 1-2%. Here’s an example:

Deliverability Metrics – Did the message arrive?

Performance Indicator Calculation Metric
Delivered/Sent 9,800/10,000 98%
Hard Bounced/Sent 50/10,000 0.5%
Soft Bounced/Sent 150/10,000 1.5%

Delivered – The total number of emails successfully delivered to your recipients.

Hard Bounces – The total number of messages returned to the sender – these addresses are permanently undeliverable. Causes include invalid addresses (domain name doesn't exist, typos, changed address, etc.) or the email recipient's mail server has blocked the sending server.

Soft Bounces – This is a count of the messages that arrive at the recipient’s mail server with a recognized email address, but is not delivered due to a full mailbox, a too-busy or downed server, or the message is too large. After an email has soft bounced 3 times most ESPs convert these failed attempts to a hard bounce and remove the email address from your list. Servers can interpret bounces differently—a soft bounce on one server may be reported as a hard bounce on another.

Complaints – Was your message reported as unsolicited/spam?

Performance Indicator Calculation Metric
Complaints Reported/Sent 0/10,000 0%

Conversion – Was the subject line compelling?

Performance Indicator Calculation Metric
Opened/Delivered 4,000/9,800 41%

Engagement – Did the email body deliver what the subject line promised?

Performance Indicator Calculation Metric
Clicked/Opened 800/4,000 20%

These are the six metrics that cover your campaign performance at a high level, but if you are using a web analytics tool, take it one step further and investigate the top five clickstreams from email-sourced visits to follow what the customer thinks is most compelling on your site.

The same is true when you want to analyze content performance within the email. Our goal is to understand which links are the most compelling. Analyze individual links systematically by investigating your:

1.Top left section – Links directed to your home page, or better yet, a page on your site tailored to email-sourced visitors;

2.Content body – News, how-tos, articles, whitepapers, customer stories;

3.Offer – URL with a specific call-to-action;

4.Share-to-Social – Engagement on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, etc;

5.Then, verify the counts in your web analytics tool.

Analyzing and Reducing Hard Bounces

1.Test – Send delivery tests to your own accounts. Sign up for several web-based email clients to gauge delivery and find out whether your message is arriving in the inbox.

2.Delivery Rates by Domain – Monitor bounces and opens by domain (hotmail, yahoo, gmail, etc.). If some are lower than others, or you experience a sudden change, your messages may be getting caught by spam filters.

3.Double Opt-In – New email addresses should receive a subscriber validation email containing a link that is required to be clicked in order to be added to the list.

4.Subscriber List Hygiene – Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) will automatically remove invalid email addresses as they are uploaded to your list from an Excel workbook or a delimited text file source, but new subscribers signing up on your site may enter an invalid address. Check your lists for incorrectly formatted addresses (i.e., missing ‘@’ or ‘.’ around the domain name) and other typos.

Hopefully you are more comfortable with email marketing KPIs after reading this. We’ll keep these metrics in mind when we cover engagement and curriculum programs in the next post in this series.

Post by: Patrick Colbert, Customer Effective

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