Website optimisation | 9/09/2019

Have you been tracking the wrong email metrics?

Posted by Lauren Isaacs

It’s easy to get caught up in a short-term view of your email results and it’s even easier to get caught up and obsess over the wrong metrics. From open rates to unsubscribe rates; what should you be keeping an eye on, and how should you be measuring success?

What does ‘good email marketing’ actually look like?

The biggest list? The highest open rate? The most conversions? The short answer is there’s no blanket term for success. There are many layers of reporting to consider when you’re looking at channel metrics. Start by considering your wider business goals to understand what you need to be tracking in order to determine what email success looks like to you.

From ‘in email’ engagement (open rate, click rate, click-to-open rate, unsubscribe rate) to on-site engagement (new users, session duration, pages per session and bounce rate). We always advise looking at a combination of these key metrics to give you a clear understanding of performance, as well as closely monitoring revenue and your specific business KPIs. Not only will this help you to understand your audience, you’ll be able to tailor your strategy and optimise your templates based on your ongoing learnings.

Let’s look at a few of the commonly misunderstood metrics and how you should be monitoring them…

Open rates v click rates v click-to-open rates

Whilst open rates are important (industry averages range anywhere between 14% – 27%), this measurement shouldn’t be the main goal of your campaign. You can have a high open rate, but if your content isn’t engaging or relevant, it could be doing more harm than good. You could see high bounce rates and unsubscribe rates and ultimately, you could put subscribers off from opening future campaigns as they’ll assume your content is not relevant to them.

What you’ll want to keep a close eye on is your click-to-open rate (the percentage of people who opened the email, that went on to click) – this metric gives you a much more realistic indication of engagement. It shows you a percentage of clicks from those who opened the email, rather than the click rate (percentage of people who clicked out of the total amount delivered).

Direct conversions v assisted conversions

Whilst email marketing can be one of the highest converting channels, it also plays a key role in nurturing relationships and customer retention. These ‘slower-burn’ conversions, known as assisted conversions, are when a customer might not convert directly from an email campaign, but email played a part in their multi-channel customer journey.

Today, we’re consuming more content, over more channels than ever. With this in mind, email continues to prove to be an effective channel for directly communicating with customers and strengthening relationships by re-engaging and building trust. It’s important to monitor both types of conversions to understand the overall user-journey, giving you insights into effective touch points, messaging and timeframes.

Large lists v smaller, healthier, engaged lists

Far too many companies are focused on growing their list without much consideration on quality or strategy. And whilst list growth should be on everyone’s radar, in order to grow and increase results, it shouldn’t be the main focus.

Instead of looking at list size, you should be monitoring website sessions and conversion rates (along with a combination of key email metrics like open rates and click-to-open rates). As your list grows, it’s paramount you make sure you’re not diluting your list quality. If you notice your engagement metrics drop, it might be time to switch up your data capture strategy – consider who you’re capturing and how.

Using competitions to tempt subscribers to sign up for your emails will leave you with a lower quality audience overall. Perhaps you should be welcoming these with a targeted welcome series, letting this audience know exactly what they can expect and why they should open your emails so that your open rates and click rates aren’t affected long term.

Put some time into developing your list growth strategy – organic growth is best, but if you’re clever with your paid ads, these can prove an effective way to grow your list by using lookalike s to capture more sign ups from people that mirror your engaged subscribers.

Short-term v long-term success

The biggest mistake that you can make when tracking the wrong metrics is letting a short-term view affect your long-term success. Consider how email plays a part in your overall strategy, working alongside content, social, PPC and wider creative campaigns.

Whilst most marketing teams understand their subscriber engagement to some extent (which days get the best open rates and what type of content gets the most clicks) most tend to miss out on broader learnings, and how these insights can be applied to other channels as well as how they can help improve email results.

Ask yourself:

  • How can you be getting more out of your current subscribers?
  • How can you improve the journey for new subscribers?
  • How can you grow your list with engaged, good quality data?
  • What findings can be applied to PPC ad-copy?
  • What learnings are there on best performing imagery – and what channels can you apply these findings to?

These are all things that can be informed by analysing data that’s at your fingertips.

If you’re interested in finding out more about your email marketing performance, we run audits to identify any issues that could be holding you back and give you an insight into where you’re missing opportunities. We can also set you up with a reporting template, so you are tracking what’s important to help grow your business. Give us a call on 01273 208913 or get in touch.