The email marketing metrics you should be measuring

Sometimes the measure of success isn’t what you'd expect.

Have you ever had to answer questions from your boss about an email that didn’t perform as expected? You might have wished you had some accurate measure to back you up. The fact is, unless they’re looking at the right metrics, they could be missing the point entirely.

No matter how you spin it, emails are really important. Marketers love them, and consumers want them. The DMA can tell you that, and they do every year. But how can we quantify this?

Understanding the measurable success of emails is one of the most important tools for an email marketer.

That sounds like an obvious statement, but 55% of marketers in 2016 said they couldn’t calculate the ROI of email.[1]

The first step towards equipping yourself to deal with probing questions from above is to define what success looks like to your business. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of reporting data you now have at your disposal, or bogged down with KPI’s, industry norms, and board expectations. Instead, you need to focus on what you want your email to do. Are you a seasonal retailer looking for website traffic, or are you a B2B company seeking a high open rate from an informative email? Purpose is crucial. All audiences are different; therefore, not all marketers should be tracking the same measure of success.

Imagine you are an online shoe retailer. Do you care about open rates? Maybe. Or maybe it’s been a while since pay day. Perhaps some contacts have just bought a pair of shoes and they aren’t going to want to hear about all the other choices they could have made. So how about looking at click-to-opens? If I’m ready to buy a pair of shoes, I’m probably an active browser. I’ll open the emails, click through to the website and pore over pages and pages of options to find what I like. The more you measure this behaviour, the better you can drive it; and the more likely it is that a contact is browsing your website when they finally decide to buy.

For a B2B marketer, interactions can be less frequent and fewer in number. These companies need to identify how valuable each interaction is so they can make the most out of every opportunity. Your boss might notice a downturn in the number of emails sent, but miss that the messaging has become much more targeted. Highly tailored emails drive better engagement, leading to more website sessions and longer average dwell times.

Communicating your intent should be enough to get them off your case, right?

Wrong. Well, for most senior managers anyway. More engagement may well lead to more sales, but you need to prove it. While terms like ‘lifetime loyalty’ and ‘engagement’ excite marketers, for most budget holders they’re just a distraction from their sole concern: revenue.

Calculating the revenue value of an email address isn’t rocket science.

You can take the total revenue generated from email campaigns and divide by the average size of the overall email list over a given period (say, a year or 6 months). You can also attribute back the less direct email conversions, such as online to offline journeys, which you should take care to do. When setting your testing plans, benchmarking reports, or KPI’s, make sure you build in some value analysis to fend off any stakeholders who are less savvy when it comes to marketing.

Not only can these measurements help your board to better understand email success as a value, they will also gives you conversion and email acquisition figures to aim for in the future, supporting the growth of your email strategy and ultimate ROI.

It’s crucially important to consider the full customer journey when measuring email success. You need to think about which metrics drive your desired behaviours. Unfortunately, there is no set rule here. However, as email marketers, you’re best placed to create your own.

Want to know more? Download our cheatsheet: Track it and smash it: 6 email marketing metrics you must measure.

[1] DMA Insight: Marketer email tracking study 2017