There’s a treasure trove of data at your fingertips when you launch an email campaign. Much of it can be extremely useful. You can track how many people clicked on your links, where in the email they clicked a link, what they did once they got to your website, and how much revenue each campaign made you.

Companies Often Forget to Track Data

Organizations are always juggling a number of different things to do, while not having enough time and resources to do them. It’s no surprise that marketers often forget to track data. But making this mistake is a serious misstep. With no idea of what is working and what is not, it’s impossible for businesses to improve their targeting and validate all of their hard work.

Why Tracking Your Email Campaign is Important?

When you track your data, you have a better idea of how you should spend your time. With all of your responsibilities it’s easy to get sidetracked and distracted. The key to succeeding in marketing is focus. Focusing on the work you are doing that is really driving results and not becoming distracted by those that don’t. Companies should calculate the ROI of every campaign they create, compare the different campaign channels, and focus on the ones that are making the most money.

We realize this seems a little murky and confusing, so to help you get things straight. We’ve come up with a ten-step plan to rock your email metrics. Just follow the steps in order and you will have a much better idea of what and how you should measure your email campaigns in a focused, organized manner.

Step One: Understand the Importance of Metrics

We made a good case for why you should be tracking your email campaigns. But here are some other compelling reasons to measure what people do in response to your emails. When you compile campaign reports and regularly check them, you begin to gain an understanding of the driving forces behind these numbers that can allow you to improve your marketing.

What You Can Discover With Email Metrics

See which subscribers are engaging with your campaigns and build out a demographic profile of these readers. This allows you to find out more and improve your marketing messages to readers that are already engaged. See what content your readers like, so you can produce more similar content. See when your readers are most active, so you can email them at these times and even focus other marketing around times of activity. (Like a Facebook ad that displays only at these times).

Step Two: Acquaint Yourself with the Customer Lifecycle Funnel

Do you need a refresher course on the sales funnel your customers are pushed through? Don’t sweat; many of us tend to overlook the concept of a funnel during marketing campaigns. Here is the funnel, and it starts with leads: leads are people that are already aware of your business, or a lead might be a particular customer you “chase” and would like to market too.

Leads become qualified leads when they are interested in your product. If you sell tennis supplies, an avid tennis player is a qualified lead. Someone interested in buying a product for baking is not a qualified lead, although they may know of your company.

Qualified leads become customers when you eventually ask them to take a course of action that they agree to. There is usually some persuasion involved. Finally, customers are people who have purchased your service or goods and have formed an opinion about you: negative or positive. Customers can then be pushed further down the funnel until they are advocates, referring your product to their friends and family. (Arguably the most effective marketing that could possibly be done).

Create an Email Campaign Funnel Focused around the Customer Lifecycle Funnel

  • Turn leads into qualified leads by providing helpful emails that get them to know, like and trust you.
  • Turn qualified leads into customers by offering intro level products or services in your email.
  • Get customers to become advocates by offering insight on how to use your product effectively.
  • Offer a rewards for customers that share with their friends or mention you on social media.

Step Three – Metrics Time: Understand the Priority Metrics that Everyone Should be Measuring

Key metrics are high-level data points that illustrate the overall success of your email marketing campaign. These are the high-level data points that show the overall success of your email marketing campaigns. These include open click-through rate and bounce rate among others. These are the metrics you want to be tracking across all of your campaigns to monitor the performance of your overall email marketing efforts.

Essential Metrics

  • Click through Rate: The percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more links in an email.
    Equation: Total Clicks / Number of delivered emails * 100
    400 Total clicks / 10,000 delivered emails * 100 = 4% click through rate
  • Conversion Rate: Percentage of recipients who clicked on a link and completed a desired action, like purchasing a product or filling out a lead-gen form.
    Equation: # people who converted / number of total emails * 100
    300 people converted / 10,000 emails delivered * 100 = 3% conversion rate
  • Bounce Rate: Percentage of emails sent that could not successfully be delivered
    Equation: # bounced emails / 10,000 total emails sent * 100
    60 bounced emails / 10,000 total emails sent * 100 = 0.6% bounce rate
  • List Growth Rate: The rate at which your email list is growing in size
    Equation: [(Number of new subscribers) – (Number of unsubscribes + email/spam complaints)] / total number of email addresses on your list * 100
    (400 new subscribers – 100 unsubscribes and spam complaints) / 10,000 email addresses * 100 = 3% list growth rate
  • Advocacy Rate – percentage of recipients who clicked on a “share this” button to post on social network, and who clicked on a “forward to friend” button.
    Equation: (# of clicks on a share button / # of total delivered emails) * 100
    200 clicks on a share/forward button / 10,000 delivered emails * 100 = 2% email sharing rate

Step Four: Understand and Create Lower Level Metrics

The metrics we just mentioned will give you a high-level view of how well email marketing is working for your campaign. Key metrics can tell you what happened, but by measuring lower level metrics, you can figure out why things happened. Secondary reports are more detailed, and can help you get the insights you need to transform your campaign design or strategy. They also will help you improve the key metrics above.

Examples of Lower Level Metrics

  • Opens per device
  • Clicks per link
  • Number of website visits from email campaigns

Step Five: Steer Clear of Unreliable Email Marketing Metrics

Now that you know the metrics you should be tracking, consider metrics that may not be so helpful. These metrics can distract you from what’s really important. There are two big metrics that are not so reliable that you should avoid.

Two Metrics to Avoid

1. Open Rate, the percentage of email recipients who open a particular email. Open rate is a misleading metric for a couple of reasons. First, an email is only counted as “opened” if the recipient also receives the images embedded in your message. Meanwhile, a large chunk of your email users will have image blocking enabled on their email for security. So even if they open the email, they won’t be included in your open rate, meaning this metric is inaccurate and unreliable.

2. Unsubscribe Rate, the rate at which people who undergo the formal unsubscribe process. Many recipients who are sick of receiving email from you won’t bother to formally unsubscribe. They’ll simply stop opening, reading and clicking on your emails.

Step Six: Make Goals for Your Email Campaigns

It’s time to get SMART. Before sending out your next email, take a two-minute break and ask yourself: what’s my goal here? Growing the number of your subscribers, generating more leads and converting more existing leads into customers are all examples of awesome goals to achieve with email marketing.

Make Your Goals SMART

You may already be aware of SMART goals, but here is a breakdown on the methodology of a great goal.

  • S = Specific. Really nail down an actionable, meaningful thing you would like to accomplish. Vagueness is your enemy when you are thinking about goals.
  • M = Measurable. Great goals are able to be measured in progress. Hey, and you can measure your goals with one of the metrics we mentioned!
  • A = Achievable. Don’t set a goal that you can’t achieve – it will just depress you, setting you up for failure.
  • Realistic = Your goal should be realistic in addition to achievable. If your goal is to increase your subscriber base by 4 billion in two months, your goal isn’t SMART.
  • Timely = Always set a period of time in which you should have completed your goal, like six months.

Follow the steps of the SMART goal setting, and you will have an actionable, specific, realistic idea of what you would like to accomplish.

Step Seven – Use the Metrics You Just Learned About to Track Your New Goals

While we mentioned the most important metrics any marketer or small business owner should keep in their tool belt, we want to point out that particular metrics will be helpful for achieving certain goals. So if your goal is to increase the number of leads you have, you will want to place important on the growth rate of your subscriber list.

Other Ways to Use Metrics to Track and Achieve Goals

  • Say your goal is growing lead generation, not accruing more subscribers. Track how many leads you are capturing every day, and each month. You have the prerogative to focus on all leads generated, or only new ones added to your database.
  • Say you want to convert more existing leads into customers. Measuring your click through rate in your emails will help you to figure out if your email copy is compelling enough to be clicked on, AND take action.

Step Eight – Determine How Much Revenue You Are Making From Your Emails

You will want to figure out the return on investment of your email system. You can do this by assigning different values to various types of leads, based on their likelihood to generate revenue for your business. Good questions to ask yourself when you do this include: how many of each type of lead did you generate through email marketing? How does this translate to potential revenue or actual revenue?

How to Calculate ROI for Your Email Campaigns

  • ROI is total revenue dived by the amount you spent on the marketing.
  • Calculation: [($ in additional sales – $ invested on the campaign) / $ invested on the campaign] * 100.
  • Example: (1,000 in additional sales – 100 invested in the campaign/100 invested in the campaign = a 900% ROI for your campaign.

Step Nine – Prioritize Your Marketing

Marketers have a lot on their plates. After measuring your ROI on email marketing compare it to other channels, like paid search or social and prioritize your efforts and time to drive maximum results. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted with campaigns that are delivering a smaller ROI.

Use Your Reports to Prioritize

To improve your results, regularly look at your campaign reports. You will begin to gain an understanding of what is working and what isn’t working all that well in your email marketing. One way you can use your reports to improve your marketing is taking a close look at which subscribers are engaging with your campaigns. You want more of these people! Find out what content they like and post more of that, or when they are most active, and send compelling emails during these periods.

Step Ten – Rinse and Repeat

Now that you know the drill, continue to improve your results by regularly checking out campaign reports, using your specific metrics to accomplish goals, and always have a specific goal in mind when you send out an email. Measure your ROI and brainstorm about how you may improve it.

Wrapping it Up

We understand you have a lot going on and that some of these metrics can seem intimidating or confusing, which was why we compiled this step-by-step list to tracking your email campaigns and putting these metrics to good use. There is so much information at your fingertips throughout the course of an email campaign. Don’t take it for granted – be sure to measure the results of your efforts and examine them carefully. You will find the goals you set will be easier and easier to achieve with data driven decisions.