Examine KPI activity to test, refine tactics, restrategize

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Liz Bross, VP, digital interaction, The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks
Liz Bross, VP, digital interaction, The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks

Email key performance indicators (KPI) include traditional metrics such as delivery, open and click rates, but that's just the beginning. A true KPI dashboard also should measure everything that an email program touches — links to websites, landing pages and social media platforms — as well as its impact on lift to other media to which it is integrated.

Each program should have its own set of KPIs — delivery rate, open rate and click rate. Establish unique baselines for each program type, such as transaction and promotions, while keeping these metrics in mind.

  • Bounce rate. If too high, it can negatively affect sender reputation among Internet service providers.

  • Touch rate. This is how often a marketer emails a particular subscriber, which enables KPI monitoring by frequency.

  • Engagement rate (opens and clicks). Engagement is becoming a factor in maintaining delivery access to the inbox. Email messages can be labeled less important than others simply based on what a recipient does or does not do with a marketer's message.

  • Last activity date for a subscriber. Suppress any email address where there has been no activity in the past three to six months.

  • Unsubscribe rate. Most people unsubscribe because of a lack of relevance or because they received too many emails from the sender, hence the need to track these in relationship to the touch rate.

Additional email KPIs delve even further:

  • Purchases subsequently made by a subscriber. Just because a sale was not online does not mean it didn't occur because of the email program. Many consumers research online and then buy offline.

  • Website activity. If a marketer's Web analytics program can recognize activity resulting from a click-through on a message, then it can likely produce metrics worth monitoring.

  • Lead generation. Examine the performance of email address acquisition tactics including referrals, subscription forms on social sites and in-store signups. This is an important metric to track because email address list attrition can erode 30% of existing subscribers annually.

Watch engagement metrics closely and track who's responding and who's not. Monitor any other metrics that a marketer's email program touches even indirectly. Use this valuable insight to test and refine. The entire point of KPIs is to test, refine tactics and restrategize.

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