There are plenty of tools these days that give you a wealth of analytical data on your email campaigns—a veritable treasure trove of information that can give you more insight into your audience and campaign success than you will probably ever need.
The tricky part is to make use of all that information. How do you take what the data is telling you and actually use it to improve your email campaigns?
Here are some key stats to look out for, what they mean and how they can help you in your future marketing efforts.
Signed, sealed and...
The first thing to know is your delivery rate—how many of your emails are actually hitting the inboxes of your mailing list. Delivery rate is calculated as total emails sent, minus your bounce rate.
Emails bounce when, for one reason or another, they aren't successfully received. Sometimes this is a 'soft bounce', which is a problem at the subscriber's end, such as a server issue or a full inbox. Sometimes it's a 'hard bounce', which usually means an email address does not exist.
You can improve your delivery rate by cleaning up your mailing list when 'hard bounces' are reported after a campaign. Something that Winbox does automatically for our clients.
Of the number of emails successfully delivered, the open rate is the percentage actually opened and (presumably) read by your subscribers. This is important because it's the first metric of engagement. If your open rate drops, it may be that something isn't working.
Comparing the open rates of different campaigns is a good way of measuring which email subjects are more effective and attention-grabbing, so watch out for trends. You can always experiment and keep an eye on this metric.
If you find a steady decline with open rates, it could be that your subscribers aren't expecting to find the content of your emails interesting—and individuals who consistently don't open their emails are more likely to unsubscribe.
The second important metric of engagement is click-through rate, or click to deliver rate (CTDR)—how many people are actually reading the email and following through with any calls to action contained within them.
This is the rate of readers who are actually clicking your links to follow through with purchases, blog posts or other directives and so represents a great measurement of engagement with your audience. It's measured by the number of clicks divided by the number of delivered emails.
In many ways, this is the most useful metric because you can break it down further. Analytics will be able to show who clicked what links and break it down by geographical location and various demographics, depending on what other information you have obtained from your subscribers.
So not only will you be able to see what email content seems best to be encouraging click-throughs, but whose attention you are attracting which will help you tailor your future emails more precisely.
This demographic analysis can be used for the effectiveness of any call to action, not just click-throughs that result in purchases. Share rate is an important one when social media is a significant part of your brand. If you give the option to post to Twitter or Facebook, how many people are doing that?
This is the most obvious metric, but it's still important. How many new subscribers are you attracting? How many people are unsubscribing? Retention rate is the percentage of your subscribers who are sticking around.
When unsubscribing, you can offer the option to specify the reason for their unsubscription, whether it's because they're no longer interested or, worse, regard your emails as spam. But even if they don't, you can use geographic and demographic data to spot trends.
Simply put, analytics will be able to indicate to you the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns at every level of engagement. As they evolve, your campaigns should react to what your data is telling you about your mailing list—who's on it, who's reading, and who is following through.