Email Marketing Analytics – How to Measure Success

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The ability to track the success of your email marketing campaign with analytics is hugely important. By looking at the analytics of your email campaign, you can see exactly what is working and what is not. However, before getting started, it’s important to know what is (and isn’t) important otherwise you just end up with a whole load of numbers that mean absolutely nothing. So, let’s get started…

What You Track

To begin with, you should know a few things about what exactly you are tracking. As far as campaign data goes, any decent email delivery package (Emailcenter included), should be able to give you important data about who’s opening your emails. This includes everything from delivery rates and permanent and temporary bounces to open rate, click through, demographic and location information, along with key data on your individual segments. Taking things further, however, usually involves integrating your email and web analytics so that you can see what happens after the click as well as before.

Delivery & Bounce Rates

One of the most important things you want to know is how many of your emails were actually delivered. A high bounce rate might indicate that your email list is low quality due to lots of expired addresses, or that something else is going on. It goes without saying that bounced emails will never lead to clicks or sales, but getting things right goes further than that due to spam protection algorithms.

If your email address or server IP is picked up as having a high number of bounces chances are that, at some point, you’ll get yourself blacklisted for the simple reason that you’re seen as being a spammer. Think about it – if you were just guessing email addresses or scraping them from websites then the likelihood is that a lot of these would be incorrect. Keeping your lists clean and tidy, removing addresses that bounce, and generally keeping an eye on who you’re getting in touch with is hugely important.

Open Rate

The next thing you need to know is how many of your emails actually were opened. If you have a 100 percent delivery rate, but a 0 percent open rate, your campaign isn’t going to do you any good. There are a few things that impact open rate:

  1. Subject Line & ‘From’ details;
  2. Email list quality.

I’d always advise split testing the first two. Try different subject lines, play around with including either a real name or your brand as the sender, and see what works for you. It’s important to constantly make improvements to get more out of your emails as it’s often far easier to increase the open rate by a few percentage points than it is to generate the equivalent number of new subscribers.

Click-to-Delivery Rate

Next up we have click-to-delivery rate. This tells you how many of the people who opened your email actually clicked on the link provided or otherwise followed the call to action, so long as that action was clicking on something within the email. You need to know this rate because this is exactly why you send emails in the first place – to get someone to do something! Again, most email packages will have these kinds of stats built in but it’s also important to make sure you properly tag your URLs so that the correct data is being passed.

If you’re using Google Analytics this is quite straightforward as you can use Google’s URL builder.

Without going into too much detail, this allows you to turn a normal URL into one that passes custom data into GA. The important thing with this is to be consistent so that when it comes to comparing data you’re not looking at apples and pears. In short:

  • utm_source is your top level bucket (e.g. email or social+media)
  • utm_medium is the next level down (e.g. newsletter or promo+email)
  • utm_campaign should be used to give you more information (e.g. the campaign name or send date).

The more switched on of you may have noticed that I used the + sign where spaces would usually be and that everything was lower case. This is just personal preference but it tends to help ensure that, as I mentioned earlier, the information that I get is consistent. My best advice here is to decide what works for you and stick to it!

Subscriber Retention Rate

Perhaps tied with the click-to-deliver rate in level of importance is your subscriber retention rate. If you have a million people on your email list but nobody really opens it and people unsubscribe, it doesn’t do you a lot of good. You have to retain the people you originally sign up, and knowing whether or not that is taking place will go a long way to helping you improve your campaigns. Look for trends, try different ideas, and do all that you can to keep those precious subscribers.

Whether the thing that makes the most difference is giving away freebies and discount codes, proving amazing content (we love Quora’s weekly emails), or properly segmenting your customers so that everything you send is hyper-personalised will depend on your business and customers. Working this out is pretty much key to your long-term success.

Website Analytics

So, what happens when a subscriber actually clicks through to your site? Although this isn’t a crash course in website measurement, I’ve mentioned web analytics throughout this post so it’s probably worth mentioning the things that are most important to be looking at:

  1. Bounce Rate
  2. Average Time on Site
  3. Conversions

If someone is clicking through from your email, sticking around for a whole nanosecond and then leaving again it shows that something is going wrong. It could be that it’s the wrong page for that subscriber, that you got them there under false pretences, or that your landing page needs some work. Either way you need to keep an eye on how long visitors are staying, if at all, and constantly work to improve this.

Moving on from just getting them to stay on your site, conversion is key. Whether it’s a sale, business lead, viewing a key page, or any other site goal you really need to be measuring this as effectively as you can. Ensure that the correct tracking and attribution is set up in your accounts, monitor it regularly, and play around with different content ideas to drive more from your visitors.

In Summary

It goes without saying that there’s a lot to think about but by following the above tips you can start to get more out of your email marketing campaigns. For most people the most important first step is to start tracking, measuring and understanding what they’re doing – from there it’s just a case of constantly tweaking testing and improving.

About Craig Loynes

Marketing Manager at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP. Connect with +Craig Loynes on Google+ or follow on for more email marketing insights.


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