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Judging Email Marketing Campaign Success based on Analytics

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 07:53 -- Hugh Daniel

There are many reasons for implementing an email marketing program that are additional to getting a direct sale.  These include branding, reminders, product education and just plain staying in touch with your customers.  In some ways, the last item is one of the more important, keeping in mind the proverbial seven touches needed for a sale.  It is possible to use analytics to track who is opening emails, clicking on links and to use the information as a guide as to who is a pre-qualified lead for sales follow-up.

However, when it comes to judging the success of an individual email based on analytics (opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes) there are so many variables that it is hard to make a rock solid assessment for that one email.  As Captain Barbosa says in Pirates of the Caribbean regarding the Pirate’s Code, “It’s really more of a guide…”

As an example of what I mean, if the open percentage has been trending high for a series of emails, and an absolute stinker of an email goes out, there might be a lot of people open that really lousy email.  Then, although the next email is absolutely brilliant, the recipients decided NOT to open the absolutely brilliant one because they got burned on the previous email. This would result in a really low open percentage that is not indicative of the quality of the design or of whether the content is compelling to your list.

There are several analytics that are conclusive.  The most obvious one is if the email generates a lot of clicks that can be directly tied back to profitable sales.

If the number of unsubscribes shoots through the roof, you can be certain that the content in the email was a turn-off to your list in general. Avoid that topic like the plague in future emails.  Once someone unsubscribes from your list, they are typically gone forever if you are using an email marketing service.

One factor that will have a direct affect on the open percentage is the subject line. The compelling nature or appeal of the subject line can certainly induce a recipient to open the email to read further.  Conversely, if the subject line has no interest to the reader, it is only a quick button click away from the Deleted Items folder.  So if an email has an unusually high (or low) open rate, look carefully at the subject line to see if it might have had an impact.

Because it is so important, carefully crafting the subject line is something that the email copy writer should absolutely focus on.

If success is being measured by click throughs, a variable that makes it hard to judge is whether or not each email is using a different device or graphic to ask the reader for a click through.  Without consistency, it is hard to judge whether the clicks came because the content was compelling, or because the graphic was compelling and in the right place in the content.  Surveys show that using a large button and bright colors will increase click throughs, even when the content is the same.

Email analytics provide a guide for trending and are an indispensible tool. But keeping in mind that when the previously sent email is perceived as not being relevant to the reader it will negatively affect the analytics for the next email going out; analytics are not necessarily an absolute indicator for the effectiveness any one email.  The clear exception being if any of the positive analytics greatly exceed the response typical for other emails in the campaign.

So there will always be subjective and intuitive judgments that go into which emails were the most appealing. Use your analytics to uncover trends and to steadily improve the receptiveness of your readers to the content you are providing so that you create email content that is both compelling and useful to your list.
 


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