Your CEO, for example, will likely not be blown away if you brag that your email campaigns or newsletters are beating the industry averages in open, click and delivery rates. So what if you have a 10% click-through rate on your last message? Big deal. Did that 10% help you meet your quarterly sales goal? OK, now we're talking!
To drive your program's strategy and judge its value, you need to move beyond a narrow set of email statistics. Instead, show how email, better than any other marketing channel, helps your company achieve success by measuring your program with specific, business-focused goals.
Here's an example for a business-to-business company, but applicable to any business built around sales: Instead of building an email campaign with primarily email-focused goals (achieving a 8% click-through rate, improving delivery to 95%, etc.), start with a key company business or marketing goal first, such as increasing cross-sell revenue by 15%. This is a goal that your email program would play a significant, measurable role in achieving.
Now, with this business goal in mind, work backwards to find the strategies to use in your email program to achieve it. Here you would use metrics, such as what percentage of your clients or customers subscribe to your newsletters, how many of them buy through your email channel, what kinds of products they buy, how often they buy, typical order size, etc.
From here, you can drill down into the numbers to find out which client segments respond best to email initiatives, which content drives the most conversions, which products sell best through email.
Finally, you can begin to build your email campaign model using email-centric goals. You know that to increase cross-selling, you need to reach a wider audience among your customers and to entice a greater percentage to open and act on your messages.
So, knowing your typical conversion rate for existing customers, you calculate that you'll need to double the percentage of customers who subscribe to your newsletters, from a current 20% to 40% or better. To achieve the 15% sales increase will also likely require boosting frequency from once a month to twice monthly, segmenting the list according to industry and buying history, and developing unique content for each segment. Then you can look at open, click and other email metrics over past campaigns and develop strategies to boost those.
Once you deploy your new goal-centered program, use your metrics to see how close you came to meeting your business goal, in this case to boost cross-selling revenue by 15%. Regardless of whether you met or missed this goal, you now know how to use email and other process metrics to help determine where elements of your program are working or falling short.
With this kind of careful planning, you can demonstrate the killer role your email program plays in helping your company achieve success. This, more than any email-centric statistic, will get your executives behind email and help you snag a bigger slice of the marketing-budget pie.
In the end, email marketing doesn't have an "easy" button you can push for instant success. But it does have a roadmap, and the points on the map are the relevant business goals and metrics that will point your program in the right direction.