It’s one thing to send great looking emails. It’s another thing to send great looking emails that your customers will actually read. Even with automation, email marketing can take a lot of time and effort. The only way to rock your email marketing results is to send good emails and follow a good plan. Anything else is wasting time and energy (and money). And, like the rest of us running a small business, I'm sure you can't afford to waste any of those.
So, let's look at the metrics you should pay attention to and some ways to hit those numbers. No one likes "analytics" (well, unless you're an analyst). But unfortunately we need to press on and pretend because it's good for the business. Here's how...
Don't always "follow the leader"
The world is full of email marketing tips and best practices. But remember that most tips are generalities about all email marketing. You need tips for your email marketing.
Best practices are always good to know and a great place to start. But not everything you read is going to be the right thing for you or your business.
Consider your email marketing as your brand new baby. You can read all of the right parenting books, but your child’s personality is unique…and your parenting style has to match those unique needs. You have to test different things and find what works best. Just because Mom-of-the-Year gets the perfect sleep schedule because she feeds little Johnny every 2.15 hours doesn't mean your little Susie is going to be able to handle that much food.
So which metrics actually matter?
Probably the most common measure of performance for emails is the open rate. Simply put, it’s the number of people who opened your email divided by how many emails you sent out (excluding bounces, but we'll save that for another post).
Not everyone will open the emails you send—crazy, I know.
Keep an eye on your open rate and you’ll have a better feel for how interesting people find your content. If you’re sending consistent campaigns, updates, material… you should start to see trends. If they do anything but go up, you should consider revisiting your style or quality of content.
Keep in mind though, this is not a perfect metric. There are a lot of reasons why somebody would or wouldn’t read your email. Typical open rates will vary across industries, audiences, seasons, businesses… This is a perfect example of looking at benchmarks to see if you’re results are way off base.
Open rate is the first important metric when it comes to email, but getting someone to simply look at your email probably isn’t your main goal.
You have a business and you’d like your email readers to do something... more than likely you want them to go to your website or a landing page by way of a link in that email. How people click that link (divided by the number of people who open your email) is your click-through-rate also called "CTR."
This number lets you know if your audience is intrigued enough to check out more. If nobody is clicking, then something needs to change. That might be your email copy, your images, your topic… and maybe even your audience (you may not be targeting the right buyer). Chances are, you need to head back to the drawing board.
Regardless of your CTR, you should always look for ways to improve so continue to analyze and test... always.
This word will mean different things to different people, but it’s still important no matter what business you’re in or who your audience is. Here’s why:
A “conversion” is simply someone taking the action you want them to take. You need to decide what action that is. To some it will be a purchase, others it will be someone signing up for a webinar or downloading a worksheet.
However, if you don't see your numbers improving here over time, consider changing the action you're asking your reader to take. For instance:
- if you're trying to send a white paper to a group of 15-18 year old buyers, you might have better results with an infographic
- if people are clicking on your email but not converting, take a second look at your process - it could be broken or too complicated (or you're asking for too much information too soon)
Regardless of what action you want your reader to take, your email marketing solution should have a way to track these for you… easily.
The ABC’s of A/B testing
Optimizing your email marketing will take some time. The first email you send will probably not be your best. Testing and tweaking over time, you will gain more insights into what your audience wants to see and what they respond to.
One sure fire way to see what’s working is to A/B test your emails. Send two slightly different versions of your message and see which one performs better. It’s best to only make one change (the email subject line OR the color of the button OR the call to action). Testing more than one change in the same email will make it difficult to know for sure which change drove your reader to take action.
Knowing which aspects of your email get the best results can help you constantly improve your marketing efforts. And improvement means more money in your pocket.
These are just the very basics of email metrics. Check back, we’ll be posting more on this subject over the coming weeks so you can become an email pro!
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