Part I of the article.
Peter Drucker, the father of ‘modern management’ said ‘If you can’t measure, you can’t control it; if you can’t control, you can’t manage it”. If you can’t manage, you are simply wasting your effort and money both.
This is true with your email marketing campaigns. You are simply wasting your marketing budget down the drain, if you don’t measure the success of your email marketing campaigns! You may also be hurting your brand and reputation eventually!
How do you know if your email marketing program is working? How can you tell if your electronic communications are actually having the impact you hoped for? Is the work you’re putting in worth the effort? Email metrics can help you determine the effectiveness of your communications and fine tune them to improve their efficiency.
There are a number of ways of measuring the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign, and marketers would be best advised to use as many as possible. Campaigns can be made to work far better and executed with a much tighter focus, once we can establish who is interested and to what degree. A considered, cost-effective and result-oriented email campaign will incorporate as many of the suggested metrics as possible.
Deliverability: This metric gives you the picture of how many emails were successfully sent out by your email marketing software or provider. Ideally you would need 100%. Practically no email marketing software or provider will guarantee 100% deliverability, because of many issues. The issues range from the hygiene of your list, ISP rejections and blockages, recipient’s inbox full, etc.
Deliverability is defined as
((Number of Email Addresses Sent – Number of Email Addresses Bounced) /Number of Email Addresses Sent) * 100%
If you are using a reputable email marketing solution or provider, you should be getting deliverability in excess of 95% to your opt-in list from the first campaign itself. The deliverability for successive campaigns should be in excess of 99%. If you are not getting these numbers, you should be seeking honest answers from your email marketing solution vendor or provider or the hygiene of your opt-in list.
Bounces are categorized into hard bounces or soft bounces.
A hard bounce is an email message that has been returned to the sender and is permanently undeliverable. Causes include invalid addresses (domain name doesn’t exist, typos, changed address, etc.) or the email recipient’s mail server has blocked your server. Servers will also interpret bounces differently, meaning a soft bounce on one server may be classified as a hard bounce on another.
A soft bounce is an email message that gets as far as the recipient’s mail server (it recognizes the address) but is bounced back undelivered before it gets to the intended recipient. A soft bounce might occur because the recipient’s mailbox is full, the server is down or swamped with messages, the message is too large or the user has abandoned the mailbox. Most email service providers will attempt to deliver the email regularly for a few days. If it is still undelivered, it becomes a hard bounce.
You should be checking if your email software marketing solution or provider
- Have capabilities to check the invalid email addresses even before sending them out?
- Allow defining policies for retrying sending again in case of soft bounce?
- Can export the hard bounce and soft bounce email addresses for further validation?
Detailed Domain Report: Just getting a consolidated report of emails delivered across all of the domains is not enough for a marketer. Marketer has to get a detailed report of the performance of the email marketing software on how many emails were sent successfully to each of the domains or ISPs (gmail, yahoo, msn, aol, rediff, etc.), how many were rejected and how many were blocked. If you don’t have visibility to these and your email marketing provider doesn’t provide them, your reputation will be badly hurt as you can’t take action on those proactively.
Spam Complaint Rate: As you may know, subscribers using many of the most popular web based email services like Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL have an option available at their fingertips to report messages they don’t want in their inbox. This action is called a Spam Complaint. Spam Complaint Rate is the percentage of the number of such spam complaints to the number of emails sent from each email campaign. This can be further categorized for each ISP.
This requires your email marketing software or provider has to work with the ISPs to get the spam complaint feedback loops (FBL). Most ISPs don’t entertain such requests, unless your email service provider meets certain requirements. If you don’t have visibility to spam complaints of your ISPs, your email marketing provider doesn’t provide them, your reputation will be badly hurt as you can’t take action on those proactively.
At any given point, your campaign’s spam complaint rate should below 0.1% at most. This is equivalent to 1 spam complaint per every 1000 emails sent to that ISP.
Opening Rate: This metric gives you the number of recipients who opened the email message. It is defined as
(Number of Emails Opened / (Number of Emails Sent – Number of Emails Bounced)) * 100%
Does your email marketing software or provider give you the measure of both total number of emails opened and unique number of recipient’ openings. You should be considering the total number unique openings more than the total openings because a recipient opening the same mail twice or thrice doesn’t mean anything for the marketer.
The industry standard benchmarks for the open rates should be more than 8%. If you are getting better than these results through your current email marketing software or provider, you are doing great. If you are getting way too less, you should be seeking answers from your email marketing software or provider.
Targeted lists and Relevant email communications can increase the open rates significantly. Marketers can also test multiple versions of the campaign (different appealing content, varying subject lines, highly personalized and individualized messages) to test audiences and sending the highly performing campaign to the target audience.
Look out for the Part II of this article on this blog.