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The Value of Analytics: Knowing Your Key Performance Indicators

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Analytics are an integral part of any marketing campaign, digital, print, or otherwise. In order to be successful in email marketing, you must understand your audience, and to understand your audience, you must understand your data. And how do you obtain said data? By measuring your email marketing campaigns! Wait . . .

It might seem like we’re going in circles here and that’s largely because we are! The marketing process is a cycle in which one thing relies on another, particularly once you’ve got a solid handle on optimisation and analytics. The process allows you to learn from past campaigns in order to improve upon new ones. While results may not be anything to boast about in the beginning, one notable goal across all campaigns is growth. A growing subscriber list, an increase in click-rate, and higher conversions all imply campaign success.

 

Go For It

While it’s true that you have to start somewhere, the first step (generally speaking) is to just go for it. Of course you will want to plan, edit, review, fine-tune, and perfect your first email before you send it, but if you’re just starting out, you may not have any data to guide you. While web analytics may prove useful in producing your first campaign, a compendium of email insights will streamline the production process. Until then, use what data and knowledge you have available to conceive and produce engaging content for your clientele. 

 

An All-Inclusive Array of Utilities

Nearly all email service providers offer analytics included at no cost. That means once you start email marketing, you will have the initial tools freely at your disposal. One email and you’re off! Okay, it isn’t quite that simple. You will need a second email to compare with the first one. And a third email after that, and so on. 

While you can use a complementary analytics program, some may choose to splurge on something more comprehensive. Don’t feel pressured to pay crazy fees just to view your data. Unless you are a multinational corporation or you are researching something excessively specific, it is very unlikely that you will need to email pay for analytics. But whether you choose a free or paid service, once you start measuring, you’re ready to go!

 

The Key to Successful Marketing

Certain metrics called KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are considered essential to marketing analytics. Any campaign (digital or otherwise), any website, tv show, or product that is delivered to consumers has specific KPIs used to measure success. In many cases, specifically product marketing, product sales themselves are a common KPI. Comparing overall sales growth this year to last, for example, might give you an idea whether your advertising is working. It’s valuable information, useful to any retailer.

Email marketing is no different. There are main KPIs you want to look at, no matter where you are in your marketing journey. Check out the list below for an informative look at common, crucial, and unexpectedly consequential performance measurements.

 

Key Performance Indicators 

Open Rate: The percentage of individual emails opened.

Why is it important? ‘Cause you want people to open your emails of course! When someone opens your email, it might indicate a legitimate open; an action taken out of genuine interest from your subscriber. On the other hand, the open may be a mistake. Or perhaps they simply wanted to remove the unread email notification. 

That being said, if a subscriber does open your email, it is a (potential) indication that you’re on the right track. For example, subscribers may be opening your emails because of the sender name (ie. you or your business), which they correlate with your reputation or the relationship you’ve built with them. Or perhaps your subject line was so interesting, they couldn’t help but open! Either way, a high Open Rate is the desired outcome.

Clickthrough Rate: The percentage of individual subscribers that open links in the body of an email. 

This measurement is the simplest way to track the success of an email, given its basis on subscriber interaction. Unlike Open Rate, which only indicates whether or not an email was opened, CTR tracks user engagement. 

As noted in the above definition, anyone might open your email, but if they aren’t engaging with it, the open may be irrelevant. Again, it could be a mistake or the act of marking an email as “read”. Or perhaps they really read your email all the way through, but couldn’t find anything of interest. If they’re clicking though, that indicates that your content is compelling and ultimately reaching the right people.

Click-To-Open Rate: The percentage of emails that are both opened and clicked-through.

This metric measures the rate at which subscribers both open and click links and CTAs in your email body. A high CTOR illustrates the success of both the subject line and content of an email. 

If subscribers open your email, but don’t click the links? Either the open was a mistake, the content didn’t resonate, or the offers and CTAs did not appeal to your subscribers. And if your Clickthrough Rate is high but your Open Rate is low? It’s likely that your subject line did not land.

Conversion Rate: The percentage of subscribers that follow through on an email’s Call-To-Action.

One of the fundamental purposes of email marketing is converting leads. A lead is any individual that has the potential to become a future customer or client. Whether you are marketing a product for purchase or providing subscribers with a How-To Guide, the action of clicking your CTA, and subsequently following through with your request, increases your Conversion Rate.

Tracking your Conversion Rate is absolutely vital, as it directly informs you whether or not your subscribers are engaging and interacting with your emails. Additionally, noting which CTAs convert will inform you which offers and content most appeal to your audience. 

Bounce Rate: The percentage of emails that cannot be delivered.

If your emails are bouncing, they aren’t being delivered. And if emails aren’t being delivered? Something is wrong! A bounce, in email marketing, is when an email has been sent but not delivered, due to one of a number of different circumstances. These circumstances fall under two categories: Soft and Hard.

A Soft Bounce means that the email is temporarily undeliverable, generally due to a full inbox or server issues. A Hard Bounce means that the subscriber email does not exist. This may indicate that an email is out-of-service, misspelled, or fake. As internet users (as a whole) change, create, and close email addresses so often, keeping your list up-to-date is imperative. In fact, subscriber lists degrade annually by over 22.5% on average. It is essential that you remove these bounced addresses from your subscriber list. Otherwise, they can affect Deliverability.

Deliverability: A score out of 100 that rates the value of an email based on a sender’s reputation.

While it may just seem like another term for Bounce Rate, since both metrics measure whether or not emails are delivered, it is actually something different altogether, albeit, not separate. As noted above, a high Bounce Rate indicates that emails are not being successfully delivered. Internet Service Providers monitor email behaviour and track bounces. A higher Bounce Rate docks you points, lowering your reputation, which may send your emails directly to a subscriber’s junk mail folder.

Other tracked factors that might lower your score? Irrelevant content, poor grammar and spelling, fake or pushy sales, inbox inundation, and anything else that resembles email spam. And of course, emails that are intentionally marked as spam by recipients (see below) have a huge impact on your Deliverability rating.

Subscriber List Growth Rate: The percentage by which your subscriber list grows over time.

While it is a self-explanatory definition, this metric is integral to long-term marketing research, measuring your overall success over a specific period of time. Essentially, you want your list to grow continuously, but it’s a matter of quality over quantity. A large list seems great, but a bunch of bounced emails and fake addresses won’t lead to any conversions. 

List Growth isn’t a straight line either. While an increase reflects positively on you and your content, external factors like time or location ought to be taken into consideration. For example, a personal trainer may see a large increase in subscribers in January due to New Year’s fitness resolutions, while in March that list may dwindle (once we realise that we’d rather eat crisps on the couch than hit the gym). In this case, your numbers may drop, but even a negative change in rate allows you to observe user behaviour and engagement. In turn? You have a better understanding of your audience.

Unsubscribe Rate: The percentage of individual subscribers that have ceased their subscription.

This metric is key, as it is the biggest indicator that something is wrong. If people are actively unsubscribing from your list, especially all at once, it is imperative to discover the cause. Is it poorly written content? Useless offers and irrelevant information? Excessive email blasts? Or perhaps you said something controversial or negative that struck a chord with your audience. 

Whatever the reason, unsubscribes are unavoidable. Knowing you audience, optimising your content, testing email performance, and reviewing your data will help you maintain subscribers and increase List Growth.

Spam Complaint Rate: The percentage of spam complaints received, per email.

Ideally, you want your Spam Complaint Rate to be zero. While that is possible, it definitely isn’t probable. There will always be someone that finds your once-a-week emails just too much, or forgets they signed up, only to be shocked when their inbox is speckled with a plethora of online shopping promos. 

That being said, if you’re finding that complaints are up, it’s worth investigating. Did you promise readers one thing, then provide something unrelated? Did you offer something free, only to charge down the line? Or have you added addresses to your list without express permission? Don’t forget: That is illegal! And while you might not end up in jail, it is considered bad practice and can get you blacklisted.

The best way to avoid complaints? Transparency. Give subscribers what they expect, on top of what they want.

 

Ready To Start?

While the list above isn’t comprehensive, it puts the “key” in Key Performance Indicator. Tracking these metrics is of benefit to any business, large or small. And when the necessary tools are provided (read: free!), why wouldn’t you? Get tracking!

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