Leveraging the Right Data in Email Marketing

By E.J. McGowan, General Manager of Campaigner

In email marketing, too many companies rely on metrics that do not give them an optimal return - defaulting to open and click-through rates as their only practice of data analysis.

Though these are integral metrics to analyze throughout any email campaign, they are not the end-all, be all. When aptly leveraged, the right metrics will serve the purpose of improving an email marketing campaign, from encouraging users to engage with your brand to increasing the ultimate ROI. Here's how:

1. Use Data to Cut the Fat

Before executing a campaign, take the extra step of purging mailing lists of inactive recipients. Do this by concentrating on data that highlights previous and current user interaction to identify and tier contacts by level of engagement. Once that is complete, remove the non-engaged users and focus on the best performers, as those that show high levels of interaction will be the most likely to make a purchase and continue engaging with a brand.

2. Test, Test and Test Some More

Savvy marketers know that subject lines can make or break an email campaign, but many small business owners are not testing this important variable.

By A/B testing subject lines, marketers can see which receives the highest opens and which fail to make the grade. If open rates reach double digits (ideally 20 percent-plus), it's probably set for success. Results in the single digits, however, may mean it's time to go back to the drawing board and conduct some more testing. Do be cautious though, as email read by mobile devices is often identified as an open, even if users are just skimming past it. Don't be deceived by large amounts of data from mobile phones or tablets either - dig deeper into the data and find the source of opens to gain better insight.

3. Mine for Multiple Interactions

A key, but often-overlooked, metric is the measure of multiple interactions. Any indication a recipient conducts multiple interactions is a sign to engage with that user. A recipient that clicks through an email multiple times is much more valuable than several who only click once. For example, a recipient who opens an email on a mobile device and then again on a desktop computer has a high likelihood to engage and, ultimately, make a purchase. Once marketers identify these multiple openers, they should follow up with a message to incentivize purchase, such as with a limited-time offer.

4. Base Workflows on Data

Use data to build a comprehensive workflow campaign triggered by multiple parameters of user interaction, not just one. Automate follow-up email messages for different types of engagement in order to gain the most benefits. For example, non-openers may need a subject line change to encourage engagement since the first email didn't catch their eye. If they open but do not engage further, they may require a different or more persuasive call-to-action. And lastly, if they opened and clicked through, marketers should encourage them to increase interaction with added incentives.

5. Google Analytics for a Holistic Perspective

Google Analytics is a great tool to integrate with email marketing initiatives (it's also far and away the most popular but for a list of alternatives go to wsm.co/4altsga). With it, marketers can discover which contacts are actually becoming customers by tracking click-throughs from beginning to end. Google Analytics can measure time spent on the site, links clicked, revenue generated and other behaviors from the path to purchase. But marketers should not limit themselves to measuring success and revenue.

It's crucial to analyze where users stopped in the sales process to understand what can be changed in the future. If a contact opens an email, clicks through to the website, but doesn't make a purchase, perhaps a more compelling offer is needed or a barrier to purchase needs to be fixed.

Marketers should avoid measuring ROI solely on opens and click-throughs, and instead take a proactive approach that puts data to work. Data is being generated by every user action, so get out there and use it.