The right automation tools can skyrocket your personal and professional productivity. From automated bill pay to automated meal delivery to automated marketing campaigns, automation is becoming so ubiquitous that you probably don’t even think about all the ways your life is automated (When was the last time you filled up an ice tray?).
But as helpful as automation is, it’s still not set and forget. If you never monitor your automated withdrawals, you might end up with a negative balance in your bank account. If you never pause your BlueApron boxes, you might come back from vacation to a raccoon dinner party on your porch. And if you never check in on your marketing automation email data, you’ll definitely be missing out on critical insights.
Still, with all the data points available about your email subscribers’ behavior, it can be hard to know what to pay attention to. Focus on one point, say open rates, and you could head down a rabbit hole of articles listing hacks to bump those numbers by a few percentage points. You put a few of the ideas in place, see some changes, then suddenly your click-through rate drops. Soon, you’ll be playing a game of whack-a-mole just trying to keep up.
So when it comes to email marketing data, what matters and what doesn’t? Let’s take a look at a few metrics you should pay close attention to, and one that’s overhyped.
3 Critical Email Metrics to Monitor
1. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the number of emails that could not be delivered divided by the number sent. This is a metric often overlooked — after all, if they never got your email, does the subscriber even matter? Yes, they do. Big time.
While a soft bounce means a temporary issue that will likely be resolved on your next send, a hard bounce means you have bad data. It can occur because of a simple typo, but the more you have, the worse your reputation will become in the eyes’ of internet service providers (ISPs). Because it’s an indicator of spam accounts, ISPs may begin to move you to the spam folder. Then even your valid subscribers won’t see your emails.
The solution is regular cleaning of your email list. Most email service providers do this for you, but if not, regularly remove those addresses to keep your list healthy.
2. Click-Through Rate
Click through rate (CTR) is calculated by dividing the number of clicks inside of your email by the number of emails delivered. You could also calculate it by unique clicks if you want to eliminate clicks on the same CTA from the same person.
Click rate matters because it answers both a question about you and one about your subscribers: What do my subscribers need and am I providing that?
Each of your emails should aim to add value to your subscribers’ lives, either by answering a question, making an announcement that will be important to them, providing a promotion, and so on. If you’re doing that, your subscribers will click which is why this metric matters.
CTR is also critical to testing and segmenting your subscribers — a must-do since more than half of all email revenue comes from segmented campaigns. By tracking your individual subscribers’ clicks, you can better understand what they’re looking for and move them into new segments based on who has clicked and who hasn’t.
Remember to vary your CTAs too. If your only option in every email is “Buy Now” you won’t be getting much useful information.
ROI isn’t a metric readily available in most automation platforms, which is perhaps why only 29 percent of marketers track it for their email campaigns. But it’s a critical stat. It starts by tracking conversions (the number of people who purchase a product directly because of an email) and then tracing the revenue from those conversions. Divide the total revenue earned from your email campaign by the cost of running it (including software and personnel time investment) and you’ve got your ROI.
A low or negative ROI doesn’t mean you should scrap your email campaign all together. However, it is a strong indicator that you need to adjust your approach. Email remains one of the most powerful methods with which to reach customers, but to get it right you have to segment, personalize, test, and then start that cycle all over again.
Once you have a positive ROI, that’s powerful stuff. Far too often marketers don’t have the opportunity to attribute conversions to their work in the same ways sales does. Tracking email ROI will change that and help you convince decision makers at your organization to invest further in the program.
One Email Metric That’s Overhyped
Open rate is one of the first metrics many marketers look at when they open their automation reports. It’s also often a metric managers and other team leaders ask about. They shouldn’t — open rate isn’t that important. And here’s why.
First off, it’s inaccurate. If your recipients open your email but have images blocked, it won’t get counted as an open.
Secondly, compared to other metrics, it doesn’t tell much of a story. Open rate is primarily a factor of how engaging your subject line is and how recognizable you are to your subscribers (Do they remember signing up for your list? Is your “from” name clear?). These factors are easy to address with small changes. For a bigger impact, use open rate as a comparative metric and watch for any trends in increase or decline to help determine overall engagement.
So stop playing data whack-a-mole and start tracking the metrics that matter. The more you do, the better your campaigns will become.
Learn how to increase these critical metrics with this FREE email course!