Your Intro to Email Marketing Analytics
Even among all the digital marketing channels, email marketing is remarkable. Data consistently shows it has a higher return on investment (ROI) than nearly all other channels. And it enables your content to reach people exactly where they’re hanging out: their inbox.
Yet, one thing is necessary to turn this important marketing channel into an incredible tool for growth. That’s email marketing analytics – the data and tools you use to track your goals, measure your progress, and make adjustments to boost performance.
Here, we’re giving you a complete introduction to email marketing analytics – from the benefits they bring to the key metrics you need to follow to ensure success. And we’ll even show you some mistakes to avoid along the way.
Why You Should Analyse Your Email Marketing Campaigns
Without effective analytics, you won’t be able to get the most from your marketing efforts.
Why? Because email marketing analytics are what let you turn your email campaigns into strategic, goal-oriented, and data-led tools for growth:
- Analytics help you set and track your goals. Marketing analytics empower you to set your sights on specific aims – and then go out and achieve them.
- Data refines performance. Marketing campaigns led by data perform better. That’s because data can guide your tweaks and experiments in email campaigns.
- Analytics help you prove your impact. Senior executives may need convincing that the work you’re doing is having the desired impact. Channel-specific analytics are the only concrete way to make the case.
- Budget for the future. Led by your analytics, you’ll pin down your own ROI – and see what impact future campaigns are likely to have.
Key Email Marketing Metrics You Should Be Tracking
We’ve seen the why, but let’s now cover the what. In reality, to be helpful, your email analytics need to be highly specific and granular. That means attending to your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Here are some of the most important KPIs you should monitor – and optimise – in your email marketing campaigns.
- Open rate: This is the percentage of subscribers who open a specific email. As such, it’s a crucial tool for tracking impact and engagement. You can narrow this down further to gain specific insights into open rates on mobile and desktop.
According to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate is 18%. But your specific industry, the time you send the email, and your subject lines will all have a significant impact.
- Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who clicked at least one link in your email. Use this KPI to track the level of interest in the content you’re producing.
MailChimp has calculated an average CTR of 2.62% across industries. Clear calls-to-action and enticing links can help.
- Conversion rate: The number of people who take a particular action, such as making a purchase, donating, or sharing with their followers. These actions can be very different depending entirely on your strategy and goals, which does mean that benchmarks are not always relevant.
Yet, to give you an idea, according to Barilliance, 1.33% of emails sent is a benchmark conversion rate for eCommerce brands. You can aim for 15.22% of people who click to convert.
- Bounce rate: In email marketing, bounces are emails that go undelivered. They’re usually divided into soft bounces (when non-delivery happens because of a temporary problem) and hard bounces (when the address is invalid or just doesn’t exist). Obviously, the lower, the better. This makes you a more trusted sender, meaning you’ll be less likely to end up in spam.
According to MailChimp, your benchmark for a soft bounce rate is 0.4%, while it’s 0.58% for hard bounces.
- Engagement time: The time of the day (or week) when recipients are most likely to engage with your email. It won’t directly give you insight into your growth, but it can help you make tactical decisions – as sending emails when engagement is highest will boost all of your other metrics.
Your optimal time for engagement will differ dramatically from industry to industry, but also by country. Studies suggest 9-11am has the highest engagement rates in the US. But in the UK, that’s spread out more evenly over the workday.
- List growth: This tells you the number of new subscribers you’re getting over time. It’s pretty crucial for assessing the success of your lead capture campaigns – and your audience growth. But it will be affected by another metric too:
- Churn: The number of subscribers who have left your mailing list within a given time. This will provide you with an insight into cumulative list growth, but use it with caution. Many subscribers who are bored of your emails may not formally unsubscribe. They may just stop reading. As a result, your open rate and CTR will be more important.
However, a high unsubscribe rate is a sign something is up. You should aim for a common benchmark of about 0.12%.
- Email sharing (or forwarding rate): This is the number of times recipients share your email via social media or email. It’s a great metric to track to see the impact your emails are having.
70% of professionals report sharing content via email – making email a potentially huge lead-generation tool.
- ROI: Finally, return on investment. This is the amount you earn relative to what you spend on your campaign, or even per email. Famously, ROI can be as high as 4200% in email marketing – meaning for every pound you spend, you make £42.
How to Set Email Marketing Goals
Armed with your chosen metrics, it’s time to define your email marketing strategy, set your goals, and monitor your progress. Ultimately, that’s what analytics should be all about – tracking progress and measuring success.
So, how can you be sure you’re setting the right email marketing goals?
- Know how you’re performing right now. Find the position from which you’re starting. What is your current click-through rate? How many subscribers do you have already? Getting insight into this will show you where you can be feasibly heading.
- Clarify your business objectives. Channel-specific goals should be appropriate to your larger objectives. For example if you’re at a SaaS startup and looking to build a user base quickly, you may want to focus on generating product signups and retaining early users. Your email marketing activities should support this wider goal.
- Choose a metric that’s right for your objectives. Your next step is choosing the right metric. If community-building is your priority, for example, tracking email signups and list growth could be most important. If you’re looking to drive sales, conversion rate might be your one metric that matters.
- Keep goals SMART. Practical marketing goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Your goal won’t be just to “grow your subscriber list”. Instead, “double my subscribers in six months” is much more effective.
- Use email marketing tools to track your goals. You won’t get anywhere in email marketing analytics without tools that give you the data you need. Many email marketing platforms like Mailchimp have native analytics functions that can give you important insights. But professional marketing tools like HubSpot and Salesforce might be more appropriate for you.
Mistakes to Avoid in Email Marketing Analytics
Finally, email marketing analytics can be technical and sometimes daunting. And when the majority of marketers are learning on the job, mistakes are not uncommon. At best, that can mean wasted time; at worst, a big impact on growth and ROI.
Here are some of the most common mistakes to look out for:
- Choosing the wrong metric. Don’t simply follow what others are doing. Focus on the most important metric for your specific situation, and be conscious of whether that gives you the insight you need at the right time.
- Focusing only on the big stuff. More subscribers won’t always mean better results. Starting small – with an engaged, interested audience – can be more effective and provide a sustainable ground for growth in the long run.
- Believing tracking data is enough. You’re tracking the metrics, but if you’re not doing anything with that data, you’re not growing. Analytics are useful only when they inform future campaigns. If something works, stick with it – but can you optimise it further?
- Being too rigid. In marketing, a plan is great. But if the plan’s not working, it’s vital to adapt quickly. Tweaking, experimenting, and being open to failure are all essential skills – because doing so will help you find new opportunities that deliver results.
Optimise Your Email Marketing Analytics with a Freelance Expert
Email marketing can be an incredible tool for growth. But to reach its full potential, it needs to be supported by effective marketing analytics. That means tracking metrics, setting goals, and experimenting with tactics that produce results.
At Traktion, we can help. We can match your business to a freelance email marketing specialist to suit your needs – based on over a hundred different factors. Get started now.