However, many marketers still find it challenging to evaluate the effectiveness of their email campaigns. To measure the success of e-newsletters, they must examine available metrics to find out what is most interesting to current and prospective customers and what is causing them to click through and take action.
But how can marketers act on those metrics -- especially when the basics are often misunderstood?
Acting on the Metrics
You hear it all the time: "What's a good [insert metric] rate"? There is no shortage of industry reports tracking peer performance. Don't watch these too closely. Benchmark against your own performance. Set an initial baseline for each metric and track similar campaigns over time.
Many marketers and their employers place a lot of emphasis on this metric. Unfortunately, open rate is widely misunderstood and potentially inaccurate. Open rate does not tell you the number of people who actively open or read an email. The metric indicates the number of times a tracking image in an HTML email has rendered.
Therefore, several factors can make open rates inconsistent and deceptive: Images are turned off by default (under-reporting); preview panes automatically indicate opens (over-reporting), and mobile phones can default to text (under-reporting). So how can you act on open rates?
If you achieve approximately a 25% open rate month after month -- but this suddenly plummets to 5% -- you may have been newly flagged for spam. Contact your provider and the ISPs. Open rates can also be useful in the short term: they provide immediately actionable data while split testing.
When a click is tracked, a person has interacted with a particular link. Click-through rate is the ratio of unique clicks to emails delivered or to tracked opens. But consider how problematic tracking opens can be. Watch CTR over time and look at your reports to see which links, in particular, are being clicked.
This tells you which content is engaging your readers and driving response. Make sure you don't rely on image links alone; include text links as well, which will still render in HTML if images are turned off. Want click-throughs? Include valuable information for your readers and write compelling calls to action.
*Response or Conversion Rate
You need to have goals. Keep your goals and those of your readers in mind as you develop calls to action. Response rates show the percentage of subscribers who are taking your desired action after receiving your e-newsletter content. This might include users requesting more information, printing a coupon, or downloading a white paper.
To boost your response rate, make your call to action obvious and pair it with a highly relevant landing page if you are driving clicks over calls. If you are looking for a particular response, don't throw in lots of extraneous links. Remove clutter and make it easy for readers to connect with you.
*Opt-Outs or Unsubscribes
Admit it -- after checking your response rate, opt-out rates are usually the first metric you examine. It is often hard to determine why a subscriber has decided to cut off communication. Consider an opt-in mechanism that allows your subscribers to proactively indicate how often they wish to receive messages from you and lets them select the type of communication they wish to receive.
If your opt-out rate is high, look at your target audience and the information you are sending to them. Remember, your content must be useful and serve both your goals and those of your subscribers.