Two Questions to Build a Business-Relevant Context for Email Metrics
An integrated digital marketing strategy is certain to include an email component. Email is still one of the most effective ways to create or maintain a prominent place in the minds of your customers or subscribers.
A question that is always top of mind for email marketers is how to make the email investment count toward the overall results that are expected from the digital marketing effort.
As with most digital marketing tools, email gives you access to a wide array of metrics. The variety of numbers can become a burden. There is a temptation to create complex reports that aim to impress with a considerable number of metrics, charts, tables and timelines that claim to interpret and explain every aspect of an email campaign to whoever is paying for the report.
The idea behind this post is to propose a business-friendly way to evaluate your email efforts so you understand their purpose and how email is helping you reach your goals.
Metrics with a context
One way to ensure that your email reports are clear and understandable as part of your marketing effort is to provide them with a solid, business-directed context. The numbers themselves do not provide a context that is business-friendly. They reflect only the activities within the email channel, not their meaning within a proper business-context.
Weekly or daily numbers can be evaluated on their own against a benchmark: sometimes the open rate may up, or down, or the bounce rate may have moved in some direction one week, and then back down again. It is important to understand the mechanics of why these movements may be happening, but the answer to those questions does not provide a business context for the value of the email marketing effort. It focuses on the measurement of the activities in email channel delivery. Not its business contribution.
We are trying to look beyond reporting email activities that are internalized departmental reports. We are trying to look for business-relevant meaning for email metrics.
Building a business-relevant context for email channel metrics
At its most basic level, email marketing is a two-way communication channel with a customer or potential customer. With that in mind, one can begin to evaluate the effectiveness of the email effort by establishing how well the channel is working as a communications tool.
For example, within that context, the metrics need to answer one question:
Is our message reaching customers?
The answer, yes or no, needs to be supported by the reporting and the benchmarking within the account. This is the difference between reporting on activities within the channel as if they mattered on their own, and establishing a useful, business-relevant context for the email channel.
One question is not enough
The answer to the question, is our message reaching customers? Encapsulates the business needs, the reason to use email, and the method for evaluating its success. But one question, though powerful, isn’t enough to create the context needed.
Since we are trying to establish the effectiveness of the email channel as a communication tool between existing and potential customers, another question needs to be added:
This second question establishes the necessary understanding for the business-context events that email is generating. If your report says that most customers are ignoring emails by not opening them, then that requires specific actions to resolve. If the report says that most customers are looking at the messaging and doing nothing with it, then that points to a different area of improvement.
The power of business-context metrics
The answers to these two questions establishes the usefulness of the email channel as a communication tool within a business-friendly context.
Naturally, to support the answers to the questions you have to have a well-connected metrics system that can deliver the kinds of relevant numbers that can be used to build answers to these questions and supports items like segmentation, data transfers, Google Analytics tracking, etc. Most email systems like MailChimp, Klaviyo, Aweber and SendInBlue, to name a few, provide the activity numbers that can be used to support the answers to these questions.
Following this approach puts a common floor under email efforts and provides a simple way to evaluate, on their own, whether each activity within the channel has a good chance to succeed or not beyond what the activities numbers may say. The numbers are no longer talking email-speak. They are now talking business-speak, and by doing so, can effectively communicate their results to other groups in the business that will appreciate the effort and provide insight that can help, in the end, improve the way to make email count.
Daniel Loebl is an experienced Marketer focused on expanding the recognition of customer value inside a business and keeps a 'beginner's' mind approach to business problems.