SOS Email Marketing: One of Our Core Competencies
Email opens and clicks don’t tell you the reasons behind email marketing performance and how you can improve it.
Just about every marketer checks their email opens, clicks, and conversions. You don’t have to look far to find them in most email marketing software. Though these numbers have value, they only tell you so much.
Opens, clicks, and conversions are high-level success indicators. They’re useful to benchmark performance from campaign to campaign. The problem is, they tend to obscure the more important question: What are the reasons behind this performance (and how can we improve)?
Rather than telling you what happened, the most valuable metrics tell you why it happened. When you understand what’s causing the success (or failure) of a campaign, you can adjust accordingly. The value in a metric lies in its ability to be acted upon. In other words, valuable metrics are actionable.
Actionable metrics usually reside a layer or two deeper than top-level metrics, like opens, clicks, and conversions.
They pertain to a specific element of a campaign, rather than the campaign as a whole. You won’t find many such insights, without digging into a reporting dashboard or data export. The search becomes a lot easier when you know where to look.
Here are our six actionable email marketing metrics you should be measuring:
1. Delivery Rate
Definition: Delivery rate represents the percentage of non-bounce emails; that is, the percentage of emails that actually reaches the inbox.
Implication: Emails could fail to reach the inbox as either a “hard” or “soft” bounce. Soft bounces occur from temporary issues that impair delivery, like a full inbox or an issue with the recipient’s mail server. When the issue clears up, these messages may go through. A hard bounce comes from an invalid or non-existent email address. Delivery prevented by a firewall, ISP, or mail server will also register as a hard bounce. The industry standard for delivery rate is about 95%. If your percentage drops below this mark, you may consider examining your list hygiene. If you notice significant drops, check your email against best practices, looking for things that may have triggered spam filters. Your spam score is cumulative, so it’s important to stay on top of issues as they arise.
2. Retention Rate
Definition: Retention rate represents the percentage of recipients retained after a given email or series of emails.
Implications: It’s natural for an email list to decay. Contacts exit for a variety of reasons. Records associated with hard bounces are automatically removed. Best practices dictate that contacts should also be removed after a certain number of consecutive soft bounces (many list hygiene programs do this automatically). Emails are required to have an unsubscribe option, giving recipients another avenue to exit the list. Obviously, you should aim for a consistently high retention rate. A sharp drop may indicate something offensive in the email content, while a steady decline could be related to content quality, redundancy, or frequency. It’s important to monitor your retention rate in relation to your growth rate. Ensuring that the latter exceeds the former keeps your list moving in the right direction.
3. Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR)
Definition: Click-to-option rate is the percentage of email openers who clicked through. For multi-link emails, this can be further refined to the percentage of email openers who clicked the desired link(s).
Implications: This metric puts focus on the effectiveness of your email. The function of an email message is to drive openers to complete a desired action. This desired action is connected to link or button within the email. The click-to-open rate of an email demonstrates its ability to perform this function. Click-to-open rate varies pretty significantly from industry to industry.
In general, 15% to 20%is considered a solid CTOR. If your rate falls below average, you should examine your call-to-actions, email design, and maybe even value proposition. Whether your CTOR is below average or not, it’s worth optimizing these elements. Click-to-open rate is an important benchmark for such changes.
4. Sharing Rate
Definition: Sharing rate is the percentage of recipients that shared the email. Sharing rate includes forwards, email share buttons, and social sharing.
Implications: A share is a new point of contact, pre-qualified by an existing recipient. As a rule, recipients share content with those they think will find it interesting. Thus, shares extend the reach of content within relevant circles. Shares also denote readers who found content valuable enough to pass on. Comparing share rates from topic to topic can help to pinpoint the subjects that resonate with your audience. Comparing the share rate with conversion rate can provide added insight. For example, a high share rate with low conversion rate may indicate that content was reaching the wrong person within an organization.
5. Landing Page Bounce Rate
Definition: Landing page bounce rate represents the percentage of email click-throughs that reach a landing page and leave without interacting with any other page (i.e. completing a form, browsing other areas of the website, etc.). A true bounce will to be short in duration.
Implications: Landing page bounce rate provides insight into the effectiveness of your landing pages. Landing pages are designed to introduce visitors to a company or collect information. To complete either objective, the visitor has to move beyond the landing page. Landing pages bounces are users who didn’t move on and, by extension, didn’t perform desired actions. A high landing page bounce rate might indicate a user experience disconnect between your email and landing page; a jarring change in style or design will have users reaching for their browser’s back button. Overly long forms or information overload are other causes of a high landing page bounce rate. The best way to lower landing page bounce rate is to optimize email landing pages using A/B testing.
6. Average Value Per Conversion
Definition: Average value per conversion is the average amount of revenue generated by each lead produced. It can be calculated on a per email or per campaign basis.
Implications: Most would view conversions as the ultimate measure of a campaign success. After all, a conversion is a recipient who followed the process to the end and completed the desired action. Many would assume the most effective campaigns were those that generated the most conversions.
The problem with this assessment is that it assumes all conversions are created equal. Many leads – whitepaper down-loaders, webinar registrants, trial users, etc. – don’t have the need, budget, or authority to purchase. These ‘tire kickers’ will never amount to any revenue for your organization, but they’re still counted in conversion numbers. It’s entirely possible that a campaign with fewer conversions could generate significantly more revenue that a campaign with a greater number of conversions. Average value per conversion gives some insight into the quality of conversion, allowing you to optimize messaging to appeal to revenue-generating contacts. It can be a hassle to collect value per conversion numbers (especially in organizations with longer sales cycles), but more so than most other metrics, this information has a definite impact on your bottom line.
We are a specialty coffee industry business development expert and marketing advisor. Email Marketing, one of our core competencies, has helped our clients improve not only their revenues but sharpen their sales focus in B2B and B2C.
Specialty Coffee Industry Business Development Marketing