You’ve built a list and started sending out marketing emails. You’ve followed all of the best practices. Your emails are targeted, useful, and full of interesting content like how-tos, links and videos.
You’re sure you’re doing a great job. Well, pretty sure. Well, mostly pretty sure.
If you want to be really sure, you need to track your results. But which results? An army of data scientists could spend their entire lives digging through your data and still end up with no insight if they don’t have a clear idea of what they’re looking for, and you’re no data scientist.
To understand exactly how well your email campaign is performing, you need to identify your goals, choose metrics to track, and keep adjusting your campaign until you get it exactly right.
Identifying goals for email marketing
You can’t know that you’re performing well if you don’t know what performing well looks like. That’s where goal setting comes in.
Ideally, before you send out any emails, before you write any content, or shoot a single frame of that clever explainer video you’re planning to link to, you should identify your goals for your marketing campaign.
There are two kinds of goals. Micro-goals determine the success of individual emails while macro-goals measure the success of your whole campaign.
Your macro goal for the campaign might be to increase sales by 10%. This is a good goal because it’s measurable — you can look at sales records before and after the campaign and see if you’ve increased by 10 percent. It’s concrete — you’re looking at the single measurable result of sales. And it’s not overly ambitious — a sufficiently targeted and well-planned campaign should be able to achieve this result.
To reach that macro goal you’ll need to hit several or all of your micro goals. To identify a micro goal ask yourself: what do I want the recipient of this email to do?
Do you want them to click a link? Buy a product? Join your Facebook group? Email you feedback?
Choose one, reasonable action you want the recipient to take and then write text, design graphics, and shoot video that encourage that action. Send out your email and track metrics that will help you measure your success.
It’s that simple. Sort of.
Goal Dependent Metrics
You don’t have to monitor every possible metric. That would be overwhelming and, frankly, a time-suck. Instead, pick and choose based on what you hope to achieve.
What does it mean to convert someone? It means you have convinced them to change their way of thinking or behaving. So while conversion rates often measure the percentage of email recipients who make a purchase, it can measure other changes as well.
For example, did you convince them to join your group, sign up for a webinar, download an ebook? Really what you’re measuring is how engaged the person is with your business. You’re converting them from a passive email recipient to an active member of your community.
To maximize your conversion rate, deliver the best possible email. Make it inviting. Personalize it. Include something valuable. Show recipients why being part of your community (and buying your product) is a great idea that’s going to make their life easier.
Conversion rates vary wildly depending on your industry, price point, and existing customer engagement.
If your goal is to make more sales or bring in more revenue, this is the metric for you. You can also use it to track the number of recipients who complete other actions – like joining your Facebook group or signing up for a free webinar.
Because conversion rate is such a broad metric, some marketers also measure email-driven sales as a separate metric. This looks at the percentage of emails that directly resulted in a sale.
Keep in mind that most people won’t buy the first time they hear about you. It takes time to build a trusting relationship. You have to show the recipient that your product or service has value.
Consistent engagement leads to sales. So don’t be surprised if your sales metrics are low at first and rise over the life of a campaign.
If it’s all about the money – you’ll want to keep an eye on this metric.
Click through Rate
Find out how effective you are at getting people to watch a video, read a blog, or visit a sales page by measuring your click-through rate.
Though click-through rates vary by industry, you want to shoot for somewhere between 5 and 14%. You’ll probably see some differences between click-through and conversion, since customers can click through and still not sign up, buy or commit.
The best way to improve your click-through rate is to use only one or two truly relevant links and then surround them with text that makes them sound irresistible.
Monitor this metric if your goal is to increase awareness of your product or build stronger connections with potential customers.
If you’re using video in your emails (and you should be) you’ll want to keep track of how many people actually watch the video all the way through. This is a little different from click-through rate because someone could click away without watching your whole video even though they clicked through from the email to the video.
A high click-through rate means that visitors are getting the full message, not just the first two seconds.
You’ll want to pay attention to playthrough rates if educating potential clients is your goal.
Some metrics are goal dependent and some should be tracked no matter what your goals are. Your must-track metrics are the ones that show people are actually getting your emails.
Undelivered emails don’t get conversions. Your bounce rate measures the number of emails that never reach their final destination. This can happen for two reasons.
Hard bounces are emails that are sent to the wrong address or domain. Usually that means someone mistyped the email address or the address has been closed.
Soft bounces happen when your email is too big or the user’s box is full. Sometimes issues with the recipient’s server can cause a soft bounce as well.
The bigger your list, the more bounces you’re likely to see. What’s important is the percentage of emails that bounce. You want to keep your bounce rates below 2% to avoid being classified as spam.
How to reduce your bounce rate: (1) remove email addresses that bounce more than once. (2) follow good data entry procedures to make sure emails are entered correctly (3) make sure your emails are not too big. If you’re sending emails that are more than about 16GB, inboxes may struggle to accommodate you.
Not all delivered emails are opened. Some get sorted to spam. Others end up in an obscure folder that the user rarely checks.
Among those that actually make it to the inbox, some will simply be ignored or deleted unread. While the average open rate for marketing emails varies by industry, a good average is somewhere around 20% according to MailChimp.
The higher your open rate, the more likely you are to reach your goals. You can improve your open rates by making sure your emails are relevant, and by writing clear, inviting subject lines that entice recipients to click.
If your email includes a video, a link to a blog, or some other interesting content, make sure you say that upfront in your subject line. REcipients will look forward to the bonus content and be more likely to click.
How to increase your open rate: (1) write compelling subject lines (2) avoid all caps, exclamation points, and spammy words (3) as a last resort, remove email addresses from your list if you’ve sent multiple emails and the recipient never opens them.
Much as you want to keep everyone on your list engaged, you can’t please everyone. There will always be a certain number of people – usually less than 0.15 percent, who opt out.
They might have moved away from your service area, or they might no longer need the product you’re selling. Some might just be mercilessly cleaning out their inbox. These things happen.
The time to be concerned is when recipients start marking you as SPAM. That means they see your emails as salesy, irrelevant and possibly a scam. Not a good place to be. If this happens too often, consider partnering with an email copywriter or marketing expert to help get you back on track.
If your disengagement rate rises too high there’s one likely culprit — you’re sending emails that aren’t relevant to your recipient. Adjust your campaign to make your emails more useful and relevant.
How to decrease disengagement – (1) revisit your customer personas and make sure your email targets a specific person’s interests and concerns (2) Remove salesy language (3) Refresh your content and subject lines — sometimes people just get bored seeing the same old thing.
Your secret weapon for meeting email marketing goals
If you want to stack the deck in your favor, consider adding video to your emails. Various sources claim that video can increase click-through rates by anywhere from 100 to 600%. If those numbers sound too good to be true, consider this real-world test by Wistia.
They did seven different A/B tests with seven different audiences to determine if adding a video thumbnail to your email could increase click-through rates. For a control, they sent emails with still images.
Across all seven tests, they realized an average click-through increase of 21.52% in emails with video.
Another company, Omnisend, looked at data from 12 months of marketing emails that included more than 2,000 campaigns from 400 businesses. They found that the average click-through rate for emails with video is 8.89%. Companies of comparable size in the same industries usually see click-through rates of about 3.82%.
Further, they found that emails with video lead to a 0.39% conversion rate versus the 0.17% conversion rate you can expect without video.
Adding video to your email just makes sense (and dollars!).
Read all about how to add video to your emails in our Video in Email Marketing Guide.