Despite the growth of new digital marketing channels like social media, email marketing can still be a highly effective way of reaching current and prospective customers, providing a way to deliver a message in an engaging and personalised way that can deliver good conversion rates.
Luckily, email marketing is also an activity that is highly measurable, and here are five ways to rate the success of any campaign.
1. Email Delivery Rates
It would be great if every email you sent was received by recipients, but the truth is rather different and hard bounces and soft bounces should be considered a normal outcome of any email marketing campaign.
Hard bounces typically occur because the recipient’s email address is invalid. A simple reason for this may be that it was incorrectly recorded or the recipient gave an incorrect address, possibly even on purpose. Another reason may be that a person has changed his email address, such as moving to a different ISP. With B2B email marketing campaigns, a common problem may be that the recipient has moved to a different company or even that the company’s domain name no longer exists, which can be especially so in the case of small businesses who cease trading.
By comparison, soft bounces occur when there is a failure with the recipient’s email system, for example if his inbox is full or his mail system is busy. Depending on how his mail system operates, it may either deliver the email later or not at all.
Any good email system will give you the names of recipients to which emails haven’t been delivered. Hard bounces should be removed completely, and if after several days those recipients with soft bounces still haven’t been delivered to, you may wish to resend to them. Aim for hard bounce rates below 10%.
2. Email Open Rates
Key factors that can mean the difference between recipients opening an email or not include the name of the sender and the subject line used. The Gmail Priority Inbox introduced last year is an interesting pointer of how increasingly important this may be in the future. It can automatically group incoming emails into “Important and unread,” “Starred” and “Everything else” based upon factors like how it observes the user opening other emails from the same sender or emails with similar keywords.
Aim for open rates of around 25% and remember that if the recipient chooses not to download images in an email, it won’t be recorded as opened as that is how email marketing software measures this.
3. Email CTR
So the recipient has received the email and he has opened it. What next? Clickthrough rate (or CTR for short) is a very important way to measure engagement. It’s possible to get high open rates without much in the way of engagement if the recipient trusts the sender or is interested in the subject line, but CTR measures whether the recipient clicked a link on the email to go through to your Web site.
In addition to straight-forward CTR, good email marketing software will also tell you which link was clicked on, which can be very useful with communications like eNewsletters that feature several articles. It can also be useful, for example, if the same link appears at the top and bottom of the email and is worded differently, as this may then lead to the design of your future emails being modified to increase CTR next time.
A UK study from UK-based permission marketing company Sign-up in August last year showed that with an average open rate in the UK of 18.98%, the CTR was 3.56, which is considered a great result. But averages depend on industry and whether the campaign is B2C or B2B.
4. Conversion Rates
The aim of most email marketing campaigns is to generate sales, also known as conversions. If the email features a telephone number, for example to a call centre, that is one way of measuring this, but another is to measure how many recipients took an action from the landing page on your website that they arrived on after clicking a link from the email.
To be sure everyone visiting the landing page came from the email, it may be necessary to create a dedicated page, but measuring conversion rates may include recipients submitting a request form or downloading a brochure.
5. Email Unsubscribe Rates
Unfortunately, there are times when a recipient decides he no longer wishes to receive emails from you, and that may be due to one marketing campaign or the result of several. If a large percentage of recipients have unsubscribed, it may mean that the email was poorly targeted.
You should aim for an unsubscribe rate of less than 1% for distribution lists you regularly send emails out to, but this will be much higher for lists that are purchased and where recipients haven’t opted in to specifically receive emails from your company.
To comply with international data protection laws, never send emails to recipients after they’ve unsubscribed.