At times you will read a lot of debate about which marketing channel to use, social media or email, to engage customers. I am agnostic, but here is a tool that makes a strong case for putting email at the heart of your efforts. Email, in essence, gives you a captive audience, people who have agreed to be further engaged because they opted in (for more ideas, see the posts “How to Get Started with Email Marketing” and “It’s Cheaper to Keep Her or Him” ).
So how do you measure your results? Email provides a bridge between branding and direct sales. And an analytic solution linked to your email campaigns provides a better means of deciding which customers prefer a discount, a white paper, or a general follow-up.
Although there are many channels through which to engage customers, many companies still struggle with measuring email campaigns effectively. An eMarketer article about email lifestyle campaigns showed that while 46 percent of surveyed firms were using email lifestyle campaigns, 39 percent were unsure of their results. The article also mentioned that the uncertainty suggests a lack of measurement capabilities.
To gain that essential guidance in your email campaign, let’s look at how a web analytics solution and email solution connects your marketing strengths to your market.
Begin with the purpose for the email
What is your email meant to accomplish? Ask yourself that at the very start, and see if your email campaign falls into one of four general key purposes:
- Acquisition — for adding new customers
- Repeat Sales — for offering new incremental services to current or past customers
- Retention — special offers, loyalty discounts, and special “for you” sales
- Communication — general “Here’s what is new with us” letter
Deciding the purpose of the email will guide the metrics for campaign performance and help define the successful objectives for a campaign.
Set goals in your web analytics solution
This is an often overlooked feature in web analytics, yet essential because it allows funnel analysis — the synopsis of how visitors navigate your site. Goals are activities on a webpage that you want a website visitor to complete. To use goals you must first assume which pages and actions visitors would take, and then look at how accurate that navigation is. Goals are typically expressed as pageviews, time on site, or as a specific page. Some solutions permit event tracking as a goal — in which case, the goal is the visitor click of a link. This is useful for downloads or video player interaction.
Email tag basics
A standard web analytics practice is to incorporate a campaign tag on the URL of links within an email. Campaign tags are additional information about the link that permits the web analytics solution to evaluate the performance of individual links within your emails.
Tags are created in a URL builder. Each tag contains parameters; the number of parameters required vary with the given web analytics solution. For Google Analytics, for example, the most essential are a referral source; a medium; the name of your marketing campaign; and content, which is used for different variation of email message. Thus a URL with tag parameters would look like the following string:
When delivering email to your audience, email solutions, like PB Smart Connections, can automate the send process based on specific actions. This is a form of loyalty marketing — sending targeted message specific to a sign up action or a distinct online purchase.
Basic Metrics for your campaign success (or lessons)
Measurement typically has a few starting metrics.
- Number of emails sent
- Bounced emails — the number of emails rejected due to bad email addresses, network problems, or other issues
- Clicks — the number of clicks generated from links within an email
These metrics can then be factored into calculations that indicate the value of an email campaign.
- Click Open Through Rate — clicks / emails opened
- Delivery Rate — (emails sent-emails bounced) / emails sent
- Open Rate — emails read by viewers / delivered emails
- Unsubscribe Rate — number of unsubscribe requests / number of delivered emails
The dashboards of email solutions can monitor these metrics. Data from a Web analytics solution like Piwik or Google Analytics are sometimes added so that you can envision the visitor’s progress from email to your website goals.
Understanding your email audience further with segmentation
Segmentation is an examined subset of your traffic from your email campaign. As an analytics solution provides context to how your visitors are engaging on your site, you can connect the performance of your tagged email links to various subsets in your analytics. You can then identify your next actions that will encourage a response from the chosen subset. The kind of next actions is dependent on the intention of the campaign.
Let’s say that you are interested in segmentation by geography. You can now combine your email purpose with the feature to decide which regions provide more click open through rates, for example. You’ll have an indicator of where your efforts are appreciated for further engagement, making your marketing and sales more efficient.
For a financially challenged business in which marketing budgets are the first resources to get scrutinized, a measured email marketing campaign can be cost effective. The metrics can reveal the best opportunities to serve relevant messages as well as indicators that can best manage sales resources. When you plan your email campaigns with Web analytics, you can certainly raise the chances that potential leads convert into actual sales.
To learn more about email marketing with pbSmartConnections, click here.
Pierre DeBois is a marketing analytics expert. He is the founder of Zimana (www.zimana.com), a small business analytics consultancy. Pierre is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.