3 Essential Email Metrics

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The next wave of metrics for marketers will look at data that reveals customers' expectations, motives, and life experiences.

Today's email metrics must provide deeper insights than open and clickthrough rates—which can be helpful to measure engagement, but often don't reveal relationships and social behavior that can lead to a sale. “With all of the additional data that marketers have today, and all of the different capabilities, marketers can be much more specific in how they [craft] campaigns to produce results,” says Ian Stanley, senior marketing manager for HubSpot in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. “By having more data and better metrics, marketers have a 360-degree [view] of the [email] subscriber.”

Stanley says that the next wave of metrics for marketers are those that don't just look at the number of email addresses, but rather are based on data that reveals customers' expectations, motives, and life experiences. “[Now] marketers can actually deliver email content that's more in line with expectations, desires, and motivations—and then get [customers] to take the next step in the [sales] funnel.”

For email marketers today—and in the future—measurement needs to be built in from the start. Stanley, along with Jeni Bunner, insight director of marketing intelligence company Outsell, and Ross Kramer, CEO of digital marketing firm Listrak, spells out three metrics to measure the performance of email campaigns: clear objectives, return on investment, and number of non-buyers.

Clear objectives
Bunner says a clear goal at the start of the campaign is perhaps the best metric for marketers. Although some marketers may not think of a goal as a metric, Bunner says a hardcore objective clearly illustrates whether or not a campaign is successful. “The biggest mistake marketers make is focusing on those basic performance metrics, such as opens, clicks, unsubscribe rates,” Bunner says. “But setting clear measurement objectives upfront let's you know what's working and what's not.” She says marketers should then link more basic metrics to that ultimate goal.

Return on investment
ROI is an oldie but goodie for modern marketers who want to link behavior to sales, Stanley says. He notes that no matter the goal, marketers need to be able to calculate the actual return on investment of their efforts and resources. “Know how many leads or sales [were] generated because of email marketing,” Stanley says, adding that email marketers should measure time and energy spent and compare that to the return in sales or awareness. “As marketers, we want to see our [email] lists grow; we want to grow our database; we want more and more people through the funnel. We need to see return on investment.”

Number of non-buyers
One of the most telling metrics to measure, says Listrak's Kramer, is the number of people who don't buy but have shown interest. That number includes those who've abandoned their shopping carts or have visited a company website but didn't purchase. Kramer says marketers should then juxtapose that list of non-buyers to those already on a company's email list, and then retarget with a more relevant campaign. “Knowing metrics, such as the percentage of those who abandon a cart and are also on your email list, gives you an idea of how many people to then retarget,” Kramer says. He adds that to turn non-buyers into first-time buyers—and eventually loyal buyers—marketers must craft messages that will get visitors to come back and actually make a purchase. If marketers don't have a way to capture this metric, they're missing out, Kramer says. “We've seen…cart abandonment campaigns account for 20% of overall email revenue,” he says.

Find your key metrics
Email marketers at Sigma Beauty, an e-commerce site for makeup products, used to focus on open and click-through rates. “Now, we analyze much more: conversation rates, revenue per click, and list growth size,” says Email Marketing Manager Shauna Spangenberg. “Metrics enable us to figure out where the business and list growth is coming from, and then craft better content.” She says that since Sigma Beauty began tracking metrics and taking action on the intelligence, revenue per campaign has skyrocketed: “On average, we went from $4,000 in revenue per campaign to about $10,000.”

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