The line between customer experience management (CEM or CXM) and traditional marketing responsibilities has been blurred, and email is a great example. Email campaigns need not be just about generating business or converting sales. They’re also a useful platform for building and continuing customer relationships. Email analytics tell you a lot about how customers are receiving and reacting to your messages.
Email analytics 101: The basic measures of the success of an email marketing campaign include Opens, Clicks, Bounces, and Unsubscribes. Email marketing software records these types of reader behavior within a customer relationship management (CRM) database. The level of detail of the data collected will vary from provider to provider – for example, what device or operating system your readers are using. From within that CRM tool, you can generate reports and track trends in each rate over time. That said…
Email analytics tell you more about your customers than their email reading habits.
You just have to know where to look.
What links are customers clicking on?
What topics, subjects, or messages are getting the most attention? Where are they positioned within your template design? How were they presented – as text, as images or icons (e.g. a button)? These small but significant factors can all have an impact on engagement.
With this information, you can: tailor the content and/or design of future campaigns to best match your customers’ interests and visual preferences.
Who are your most frequent openers and clickers?
Are they current customers, or prospects? How did they get on your list? Did they sign up voluntarily, or were they added automatically through another process? Pay attention to infrequent engagement, too – whose name is new since last time you sent a campaign? And who never opens or clicks – do they belong on this list, or is their information out of date?
With this information, you can: follow up with more personalized messages targeted at your most engaged subscribers, and make adjustments to your list-building strategy, including cleaning outdated or inactive subscribers.
When are your customers reading and engaging?
Typically, open and click engagement rates spike in the first few hours after a campaign is delivered. Some internet users still jump at every incoming notification or try to keep their inboxes clear of unread messages. But if you are varying your delivery times (as you should be), you may see that timing makes a difference. Review the timestamps on opens and clicks to see when your readers are most likely to open, and whether they click through immediately, or come back to the message later.
With this information, you can: optimize the timing of your regular campaigns for when users are most likely to engage. You may even be surprised by what you find; it may seem counterintuitive to send emails on a Sunday night, but if the analytics support it, go for it!
Was there a sudden spike in a given metric?
Outliers – campaigns that defy your typical averages or medians – are worth your attention. A spike in Opens could indicate that you hit the sweet spot with your subject line. Spikes in Clicks can reveal a hot topic or an effective graphic. A bump in Bounces is a red flag that your list needs some cleaning up, while high Unsubscribes warn that something you did got under your customers’ skin.
With this information, you can: optimize future subject lines and inside content in favor of the tactics that produced the spike – unless you’re talking Unsubscribes – and clean your list so that the next delivery only goes to valid subscribers.
PRO TIP: Some email marketing providers ask Unsubscribers to indicate the reason they’re opting out before their contact information is deactivated. Use this information!
Have you tried an A/B split test?
A split test is a great way to gauge the effectiveness of different email techniques. This involves splitting your list into two (or more) groups, each of which gets a different version of the same message.
With this information, you can: learn which variables – subject lines, template design, inside content, special offers – get your subscribers’ attention, and apply that learning to future campaigns.
PRO TIP: This works best with very large lists; if you have fewer than 500 contacts, it’s harder to get statistically significant results.
Where did customers go after clicking through?
Click-throughs might be the most valuable action a customer can take from an email, but that’s just the start. Ideally, the content they landed on will keep them engaged for a while. After a campaign is delivered, check your website analytics and follow the trail of breadcrumbs. (Again, your mileage will vary depending on the sophistication of your website analytic tools.)
With this information, you can: make improvements to the landing spots linked to from your emails to pull customers further down the funnel or encourage them to take a desired action.
Bottom line: Email marketing is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor.
There’s a time and a place for automation in your customer communications. But if you are running email campaigns, why not use the email analytics they produce to learn more about your customers?
Data is at the core of CSP’s services, practices, and philosophy. We can’t emphasize this enough: analytics are only as powerful as what you do with them. In this age of Big Data, knowing how to use the infinite information at your fingertips makes all the difference.
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