The Metrics Marketers Need to Build High-Performance Email Campaigns

Michael Packard

Get the Most Out of Your Email Marketing Campaigns

We frequently encounter business owners or marketing department heads who are surprised to hear that email marketing remains the most effective way to reach potential customers online.

The stats tell a clear story. We send out about 100 trillion emails each year. As a digital marketer myself, I know the importance of improving the impact of email by leveraging the right data for actionable insights.

Most email marketing clients will provide you with basic analytical information–open rate, click-through rate, and bounce rate. This data is important to track because it gives insight to improve future emails. For example, if our open rate is high for one email over another, we can assume the subject line was highly relevant to our target audience. If our click-through rate is low, it would make sense to adjust our call to action or CTA.

But you can do more than leverage those standard insights. There is another level of data to improve your email marketing campaigns, and it lives on your website., Google Analytics is the most widely used, FREE web analytics service on the Internet. Instead of relying only on stats provided by your email client, you can utilize data being captured at the site-level. After all, your website is typically where email recipients are converting–registering for your webinars, purchasing your products, and so on.

Use Google Campaign Tracking Parameters

Some email marketing clients already integrate nicely with Google Analytics. Two of the more popular services, Mailchimp and Constant Contact, both allow for you to plug in your Google tracking code and they’ll do the rest. Check with your provider to see if they allow a similar integration.

Your email client may already support a direct Google Analytics integration, but it is a good practice to use Google URL Builder to get additional information about your email campaigns. You can use tagged links in your emails, like this:

Let’s break this down:

  1. Website URL – Enter your destination URL here. This is the only field that will change per email.
  2. Campaign Source – The type of email you’re sending will determine what goes here. In this case, we’re sending a newsletter. Or, this field could include the name of your email provider.
  3. Campaign Medium – This field should always be “email” (Unless you’re using this tool for another type of campaign. In this example, we’re only covering email). This is the primary way we will segment our data within Google Analytics, so it’s important this field is entered correctly.
  4. Campaign Name – You will use this field to segment your emails by specific campaign, so it’s important to keep a consistent naming convention.

If your email marketing tool doesn’t support a direct Google Analytics integration and you do not use Google URL Builder, your email website traffic will be grouped under “Direct” or “Referral” traffic. This makes it almost impossible to segment your email traffic, in turn making it difficult to draw new insights.

Start Tracking Conversions

Once you start segmenting your email traffic, you can begin tracking your website conversions. Tracking conversions is the holy grail of evaluating your successes and failures as it relates to email marketing. Every time you craft an email, there should be a specific action in mind that you want your recipients to take.

For instance, let’s pretend I work at a travel agency. My boss just informed me that the company needs to promote an upcoming trip to Peru. I put together an email promoting the trip and logically my goal is to get people to sign up on our website. With conversions set up in Google Analytics, you can see exactly how many inquiries are made due to your email marketing efforts.

Google provides a step-by-step guide to setting up goals using Google Analytics. Depending on how comfortable you are within the platform will determine if you need IT support. Of course, you can always enlist the support of a professional marketing agency as well.

Look at Behavior Numbers

Looking beyond website conversions, we get into analyzing website behavior. What happens after email recipients click a link in your emails? Do they spend a long time on your site? Do they view one page and leave? Do they come back to the site at a future date? The answers to these questions are finite, but the conclusions you draw from them are based on assumptions. Let’s dive into some made-up numbers from the Peru example above.

The promotional email we sent out resulted in 1,000 new website visits. Roughly 50% of those website visitors only viewed one page and left (this is called a bounce; viewing one page and then leaving). On average, website visitors stayed on our site for 1:30 seconds and viewed an average of 1.75 pages per session.

Most people will ask themselves what those numbers actually mean. The first thing that jumps out to me is that 1,000 people visited our website as a result of the email we sent. If we had not sent the email, those people wouldn’t have gone to our site.

Roughly 50% of those website visitors only viewed one page before leaving. Here’s where we can begin to make some assumptions. A high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what the overall user behavior goals are. If you simply want to provide information, a high bounce rate can indicate that users got what they needed quickly and then were able to leave. However, if the goal is to get users to explore your website, a high bounce rate indicates that they didn’t find the content useful enough to do so.

I should note, drawing conclusions from just one email is tough. In this case, it’s important to monitor trends. In your next email, if your bounce rate is a lot higher, let’s say 80%, then you may be able to draw a conclusion. There was something about the landing page on the second email that resulted in more people immediately leaving. Look at both web pages and try to identify the key differences.

It’s important to take the time to review email marketing metrics beyond open and click-through rates. Without much additional effort, you can track and optimize your email marketing content and techniques as it relates to your website.

Next time you report on your email marketing efforts, try and include some of the metrics I reviewed above. It will allow you to make a more informed decision in your email marketing efforts, plus be confident in your decisions and get the most out of your time.

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