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By 2022, more than 347.3 billion emails will be sent every day, almost 50 billion more per day than in 2019. That’s a staggering increase.
To attract and retain customers, the importance of a successful email marketing strategy is paramount. In fact, 81% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) rely on email marketing as their primary channel for customer acquisition, and 80% for customer retention.
But to get the most out of your email marketing goals, you need to align them with those of your business. How can you do this and what role do your email marketing KPIs play?
Choosing KPIs for Email Marketing
Measuring email campaigns isn’t as simple as sending out a series once a month and then checking the open rate. The emails themselves come in many forms: newsletters, product updates, news and advice columns, sales rep emails, automated emails, each with their own goals and KPIs. In other words, you cannot measure all emails as if they were identical.
So the first step in any email marketing measurement system should be to categorize your emails. This lays the foundation for an effective way to compare your progress across different categories, reducing confusion and the risk of homogenizing goals.
Next, you’ll need to think about which KPIs really matter in those separate categories.
Identifying important KPIs should start with some level of action planning; for that, you need to know your marketing and business goals and make sure your email marketing goals align with them.
For example, if you’re looking to generate more leads as your primary goal, you might want to look at the click-through rates (CTR) of emails on your “contact” page or product-focused areas of your site, as these KPIs are most relevant to support growth in this area.
Here are some other examples of common messaging metrics and how they are used:
- Delivery price: How healthy is your database? What is your email return rate?
- The opening rate : Are you grabbing people’s attention with your subject line and sender name?
- CTR: Do people click (if that’s what you want them to do)? You’ll want to work towards a target benchmark, which is a tricky start.
- The opening rate : How often do people open and interact with your email? How does it evolve over time? Does it change at all? What was the subject or content of your email when the rate was above average?
But aside from the standard KPIs, there are other ways to measure email marketing success:
- Conversion rate: What proportion of your email audience took a desired action? How many purchased this product, or read this article, or booked that follow-up call with a sales rep? Where can you improve when these numbers are below average?
- Current user journeys: What did your email allow a user to do? Evaluate marketing touchpoints on user journeys to find out what influences them or what has the most impact on their decision to convert.
- Leads/MQL: How many leads did your email generate? Align with your CRM database and CRM team to measure this metric through tracking form submissions from your email activity.
- Opportunities: Of the leads you generated, how many converted into a real opportunity for your business?
- Revenue: Does your messaging strategy meet business goals and the bottom line?
- Return on Email Marketing Spend (ROEMS): How much does your email strategy cost? Chart it like you would search/paid media and ROAS.
Knowing exactly what you want your recipients to do and why is central to planning email measurement and deciding which KPIs will be most important. Having a clear idea of what “success” looks like for your email marketing strategy sets the standard and gives you a measuring point against which to compare yourself.
Mapping the journey of your intended users is an important step in defining a clear path for them, and as a by-product you will determine the KPIs they will achieve along the way.
Track, test and report on your messaging KPIs
Since measuring the success of your KPIs requires accurate measurement of your recipients’ user journey, you’ll need a close working relationship with your email analytics and development teams to ensure you have the best monitoring in place.
If you’re directing customers to your own website, aligning your email marketing strategy with a tracking and tagging strategy is key. This means making sure every email is trackable using a structure that makes sense for your business.
Think about email category, audience, product, and even CTA in the email—all contribute to understanding how well your email strategy is working. In fact, you can use the most granular tracking of an email to measure success: is the recipient a brand or a name? Was there one CTA or were there multiple CTAs? Tracking all the links in your email will allow you to understand what people are clicking on.
Don’t be afraid to play around and experiment with various CTAs, structures, and formats. Develop a testing plan as part of your email marketing strategy and try different ways to engage with your community. As long as it’s trackable, it’s all useful data that can be fed back into your campaigns.
Having clearly established (and business-aligned) KPIs, along with a solid framework to track and measure their performance, is great, but it counts for nothing without a solid reporting process.
Try to report on your email marketing as often as possible. A quarterly or even monthly report is infrequent enough to limit your ability to respond, test and optimize your business in a timely manner.
To help, consider automating your reporting so you can quickly and easily access this data when your next campaign goes live.
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Email is just one of many communication channels and a unique part of your marketing strategy, but by measuring its performance against the right metrics, you can ensure it integrates and supports your business as a whole.
More resources on email marketing strategy and KPIs
How to Use Email Metrics to Optimize Your Campaigns [Infographic]
Four Ways to Power Your Email Marketing Strategy with AI
Metrics for Measuring Transactional Email Success