You’d heard all of the rumors. Marketing is dead. B2B is dead. Computers are dead. Email is dead. Pretty much everything has been declared dead. Despite all of this, however, you did the unthinkable and started an email marketing campaign for your company. Today was the big day. The email was proofread and checked in every other way, loaded up into your program, and sent out. Now, 12 hours later, the boss calls and wants to know how the stats are looking (because yes, this does tend to happen in the business world). You might well scramble for your stats report and announce the first thing that is reported. “Well, our open rate was 19.2% which is *just* below what’s considered the industry ideal for open rate.”
There’s just one problem with this swift and exciting report.
It doesn’t really answer your boss’s question.
Opens are slippery
There are a few things you need to know about “opens” when you begin email marketing, and perhaps the most important thing is that the word “open” can be pretty misleading. For example, let’s say you check your email on one of those clients that has a preview pane. Whenever you get a new email it pops *open* in your preview pane. Some email programs will track this as an open even though the person may not ever actually look at it. This is why some programs now also track “click to open,” which means the person actually clicked open the email to read it. This might be a little more encouraging, but it still doesn’t answer that question about how the email performed.
Opens are like impressions
Opens in email world are kind of like impressions in web world. Impressions translates to how many people put their eyeballs on your site. Opens translates to how many people put their eyeballs on your email. Neither of these are really solid metrics for determining how these tactics actually performed, however. If you walk into a store and don’t buy anything, does the store really care how many things you looked at or “opened”? Probably not. They want you to buy stuff. If you’re in business, you probably want people to buy stuff too.
What are you asking people to do?
Email marketing, like any kind of marketing, needs to be thought through. What are you asking people to do? What are you guiding them towards? If you are preaching at them, even if they agree with everything you say, there isn’t really a reason for them to click anything. They might nod their heads at their screens. They might even hit reply and say, “Hey, thanks!” But that’s about it. Neither of these actions will really help you grow your business.
An e-newsletter or an e-blast, to be effective, should have a strong call to action just like any other marketing tactic. You should take your readers by the hand and say, “OK, looky here. Now I want you to go to this specific page on my website and request a sample.” Or whatever it is you want them to do. Counting the number of people who do THAT is a much better way to measure your success.
Of course, the most powerful way to report on the success of your email marketing program is to report on how it increased sales. There are countless ways to encourage people to go from an email to a page where they can purchase something. You can include a special discount code, for example, so that it’s super easy for your sales team to track where the sale is coming from. You can track how many people who requested a sample actually ended up buying, and that sample page can be set up on a special page that only the email linked to.
People will only do these things, however, if you ask them, or even guide them. If you don’t mention that you want people to buy something, they will assume you just want them to read the email. If you’re lucky, they’ll do it.
Email is easy
Because many people view “opens” as the Holy Grail of email stats, there is I think a misconception that email marketing is easy. With all of the websites out there to help you design your email, it’s easy to think that you can just toss something together, get people to open your emails, and be on your way. However, in order to truly measure the success of your email marketing, and in order to make it a valuable part of your marketing campaign, a little more finesse, a little more planning, a little more thought needs to be involved.
What experience do you have in measuring the success of your email marketing campaigns? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmgimages/4660273582/ via Creative Commons