Conversions — The only real way to measure success for acquisition e-mail

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Al Gadbut
Al Gadbut

Have you or anyone you know ever been pursued by an intriguing e-mail offer from a source you believe to be trusted, only to be determined ineligible upon finally deciding to explore the offer? Unfortunately, this is a common but less talked about problem with e-mail marketing. Overmailing to positively effect otherwise mediocre results is likely the result of an acquisition e-mail provider using a compiled response file, and guaranteeing high open and click rates in addition to a positive ROI.

How does this happen? The marketer targeting you has likely been specific with their eligibility criteria, and has communicated this to the list provider to ensure targeted marketing efforts. However, once the e-mail count is produced by the list provider, a purchase order is cut to market to those targeted individuals, resulting in a problem for the e-mail list provider. They know that a standard open rate across all acquisition e-mail is 0.5% to 2%, and the client is expecting 5% to 8% based on e-mail statistics currently reported by branded files. In order to reach the much higher open rate, the list provider will need to “over-push” e-mails to ineligible targets. This could mean the list provider may be oversending 2.5 to 16 times the amount of e-mail that the marketer thought they were buying.

This all too common practice of over-sending is detrimental to the industry as a whole. It hurts the Internet service providers who have to process all the additional untargeted e-mail, which usually has open rates of 0.05% to 0.1%. It hurts the marketer because of the brand damage associated with marketing promises of offers they are unable to fulfill, which from a legal prospective can be construed as spam. And in the end, it hurts the consumer who is motivated to act on the offer, only to find that the marketer is unable to deliver.

What can the marketer, broker or agency do to ensure they are maximizing the ROI from a given campaign, while disincentivizing oversending behavior? The best way to accomplish this is to request a match-back analysis, a process where the marketer compares their sales or conversion data to the marketed-to list. If the list provider knows they are only going to get credit for sales attributed to the list that they submit to match-back analysis, they will be less likely to oversend. Secondly, using the following metric will contribute to the success of a campaign: Open/Click to purchase/convert across all conversion channels. This is determined by taking the number of opens and clicks and dividing that by the number of conversions from all individuals in the marketed list from all conversions across the enterprise. A poorly targeted list will have a much lower click to conversion rate than a well-targeted list.

Relying on open and click data to measure success can be very misleading since the sender can easily manipulate these metrics. Beware of anyone promising great open and click rates. In the end, the real results are in the conversions.

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