A step-by-step guide to better program measurement

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How are your e-mail programs performing? Typically, when I ask a client this question their response is, "Well, our open rate is X, and our click rate is Y." If this is your typical response, it's time to up your game.

Opens and clicks are a measure of success, but they are not the only one you should be evaluating. The first step in enhancing your e-mail measurement is to make sure you spell out your goals and objectives. These will vary by industry vertical and specific business model. For retailers, the objective may be sales. For b-to-b, it might be whitepaper downloads, sales calls or event attendance. Have primary goals as well as secondary and tertiary goals that can help really put context to your overall performance. Goals might include reach, frequency and brand exposure.

Next, identify the metric that you'll use to determine your success and how you'll track that metric. Then, you must understand how data is captured to support that metric, who captures it and how it can be tied to your specific goal and ultimately e-mail campaign performance.

The answers to these questions vary based on the tools that you currently use. If you use a leading e-mail service provider (ESP) for your e-mail deployment, you should have access to online conversion and sales reporting through them. Each provider varies of data and tracking available.

If you use Atlas or Omniture, for example, to track your media and site-side activity, then some relatively simple tagging of your e-mails and Web sites will allow you to track site activity and tie it to your e-mail campaign. These tools also can help you track in more detail, down to the SKU number or the amount of revenue driven, by capturing extended data from a Web page.

Once you've determined the goal, the metric and the way to tie the two together, you must execute. Thorough testing prior to e-mail deployment and tracking responses via those tests, specifically when using Atlas, Omniture or e-mail service provider data, is key.

The final step is to report on your success and do it consistently. Opens and clicks are certainly something you should watch to help you key in on specifics such as subject lines and creative layout, but really putting value to your program means understanding the contribution e-mail makes to your overall organization. How many sales did e-mail generate and how much revenue? How many event attendees did a campaign generate? How many brand exposures or page hits did an e-mail drive? Tracking at this level will help you truly understand the value of your program and optimize it for best results.

Whitney Hutchinson is group director, strategy and account services, e-mail/eCRM solutions at Razorfish. Reach her at whitney.hutchinson@razorfish.com.

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