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Email: Reporting

Will Jago

None of us like to admit it, but reporting is arguably the most important part of the email campaign, and that’s why at Active Networks, we use every report to shape our next email campaign.
Here are seven simple ways to measure your email success:

1. Set your goals
Before sending your email, decide what you want to get out of the campaign. Your goals will enable you to measure the success of your campaign.
Your goals could include:
- Delivering information or getting your email read (open rate)
- Lead generation (click-through rate)
- Conversions (purchases, downloads, data capture, attending an event)

2. Standardise your KPIs
It’s one thing to get a snapshot of each campaign, but you want to be able to develop a bank of historical data from the reports that will enable you to identify obvious trends over time.
Not all email providers offer this within their reporting package, so it’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet or use your CRM to measure the trends.
To do this effectively, you must ensure you are consistent with the key factors you are reporting so positive and negative changes are obvious to you.
At Active Networks, we measure the following metrics after 24 hours, 48 hours and seven days to ensure consistency and trends:
•    Day (of send)
•    Time (of send)
•    Open rate
•    Click-through rate
•    Conversions (number)
•    Conversion value
•    Average conversion value
•    Unsubscribe rate
•    List size

Not all of these measures will be relevant for your business, but you might also have more KPIs that are relevant for your goals.
After four campaigns, you will start seeing trends within your reports, and from then on, you can tweak the campaigns to see if it results in a valuable change.

3. Open rates can be misleading
The open rate is usually the first metric to look at and provides the most basic performance measure. Industry averages vary considerably but the higher the open rate, the more people opened your email – that’s obvious.
While the open rate is always worth recording, it can sometimes be deceiving - particularly if the subject line and pre-header text is vague or misleading. Read more about the effect of subject line and pre-header text on open and conversion rates here.
There is also another metric that could contradict the open rate – the number of unsubscribes. The key is to increase the open rate while maintaining a low unsubscribe rate, which results in great success.
Here are three elements to consider before you draw conclusions on your open rate:
- Was your subject line specific or vague? If the answer is vague, or even slightly exaggerated, the open rate could be impressively high but will provide a false reading when you consider other metrics.
- What is the unsubscribe rate? If the unsubscribe rate is unusually high, your open rate could be a false reading. Why?
- Does the open rate affect your end goal? If the answer is yes, the open rate is a key indicator of success. If the answer is no, look beyond the open rate to your click-through rate or conversion rate.

4. Click-through rate (CTR)
The CTR is generally a great indication of success, and it provides insight into activity beyond just the opening of the email. But, like all metrics, they can be contradicted by other reports. Your goal is to see your click-through rate increase at the same rate as the conversion rate.
Here are three things to consider when it comes to the CTR:
- Do not compare your CTR to other industries. Instead, you want to compare it against your past and future campaigns. An insurance company may be providing information and looking for a reply to the email, not clicks. Compare that to a retailer who may have over 50 links in their email. The retailer would have a higher CTR, but that doesn’t mean their email was more successful – that comes down to the conversion rate.
- Is your CTR a key indicator? If so, you should see who clicked on your link. If your goal is to generate leads for sales, and the link was your rate card, your list of recipients who clicked on your link is your list of leads. After clicking on your rate card, the leads are likely to know the following information, and now it is time for you to qualify them:

•    Price expectations
•    Lead time
•    Minimum commitment
- Does your conversion rate increase with your CTR? If the answer is yes, the two metrics working together prove success. If the answer is no, you should delve deeper into the following:
•    Look at the link being tracked to ensure it is working correctly
•    Review the destination page or download to ensure the content is relevant to the user
•    Ensure the page is mobile-friendly

5. Conversion rate
Is the conversion rate your key indicator? If so, you should ensure you are tracking your conversion rate, which may require some help from your website expert.
The conversions may not always be coming from the channels you expect. For example, a purchase may take place two weeks after an email campaign but may still have been a direct response to that email. Your report should tell you that.
If you are seeing a good open rate but the conversion rate is lower than you expected, try varying some of the following elements:
•    Day of send
•    Time of send
•    Email content
•    Call to action

6. Unsubscribes
Often underestimated or brushed under the carpet, the unsubscribe rate should underline your success. You want all of your key metrics to be high, except your unsubscribe rate.

7. KPIs
Taking all the above into account, to maintain a healthy email list and business success you should be looking for the following:
•    Increased open rate
•    Increased click-through rate
•    Increased conversion rate
•    Reduced unsubscribe rate
There is a wealth of valuable information sitting in your email report, so take the time to assess the data and adjust your email campaigns. There is a pot of gold just waiting to be found.

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