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Developing Your Email Marketing Strategy

09/08/2010 Leave a comment

An effective email marketing campaign requires some serious thought, planning, and tweaking. Whether you’re just beginning or already have a campaign underway, take some time to look ahead and develop an email marketing plan to keep you focused and on track to meet your goals. Below are 5 things to consider when developing a strategy.

Goals. Are your goals new customer acquisition, customer retention, or producing repeat sales? Is your intention to provide helpful information to your customers, or are you trying to prompt a particular response? If your answer is all of the above, you should have separate plans to help you reach each goal, simply because your audience and your message will be different for each one.

Audience. Define who are your most important customers or clients. What motivates them and what do they want or expect from your business? Who are your most important prospects, and why? What is important to them? Make sure you know and understand each audience.

Message. What are you trying to say to your audience and how do you want them to perceive you? Defining your message will help you determine what type of campaign will be most effective, such as e-newsletters, holiday or seasonal promotions, preferred customer coupons, new product or service announcements, press releases, general business communications and more.

Define success. How will you know that your campaign is successful? Perhaps it’s a specific number of sales or leads, or maybe an increase in visits to your retail store, phone calls to your office, or new subscribers to your newsletter. Define the percentage increase you would like to achieve within a certain time period.

Resources. Evaluate your resources to determine who will be managing the campaign and developing content. Will you be able to give your campaign a unique design that’s customized to your audience’s tastes? You may need to hire a graphic designer or someone to develop content for your campaign. Hiring professional email marketers who are current on trends and tools can save you time and give your campaign a competitive edge.

Develop a strategy and stick to it for a few months. If you find that it’s not achieving your desired results, perhaps your plan needs a little tweaking. Examine the results of the emails you’ve delivered so far to see whether you notice a pattern or trend. What you learn about the interests of your audience may alter your strategy.

Measuring your Campaign

06/11/2010 1 comment

If you’re using an email service provider (ESP) to manage your email campaign, you’ll receive loads of data about the success of each email you deliver, kind of like a score. Lately there’s been lots of discussion about standardization of these metrics, because the truth is, not everyone agrees on the definitions. You’ll need to understand what this data means in order to put it to good use to improve future campaigns. Below is a list of the main metrics you’ll typically see in your analysis report.

Delivery Rate: The number of emails that are successfully delivered (not blocked by spam filters or bounced) as a percentage of the total number of emails sent.

Open Rate: How many recipients opened the message. Open rates can be misleading (if recipients preview messages that could be an open) and should be used as a relative measurement. Unique opens measures the number of individuals who open a message, not the total number of times a message was opened.

Click-through Rate (CTR): The number of recipients who clicked on a link or image within an email which led them to content on a website.

Pass-alongs: The number of recipients who forward the message along to a friend or colleague.

Unsubscribes (opt-outs): The number of recipients who ask to have their email address removed from the mailing list.

Bounces: The number of emails that did not reach their destination and were “bounced back” to the sender. Technically, information is included with the returned message that allows the sender to know why the message was undeliverable. These are generally categorized as “hard bounces” and “soft bounces.”

Hard bounces: The failed delivery of an email due to a permanent reason like a non-existent address. (It’s best to retire hard bounces immediately by removing the email address from your mailing list.)

Soft bounces: An email which bounces back due to a fault or unavailability of space in the user’s inbox. (It’s best to continue to send emails to soft bounces over 3 or 4 separate campaigns and retire the email addresses that continue to bounce.)

Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR):
An important measure of the effectiveness of your email message. This metric is the ratio of unique clicks as a percentage of unique opens. Essentially, it’s a measure of how effective your message is in motivating the recipient to click a link once they have opened the message. This measure demonstrates the involvement and engagement of your recipients.

Take a look at these industry benchmarks and compare the metrics of your own campaign.