Getting The Best Out of Email Analytics 2 – How to Draw Actionable Insights

Measuring and analyzing a campaign’s performance is a vital thing to do. But all that measuring is worthless if you can’t draw relevant, actionable insights from your analysis.

Without insights that you can use to tweak and steer your email campaign, all of that data is good for nothing but making pretty graphs and diagrams.

We explore this and share out tips in our first blog in this series – Getting the best out of email analytics – choosing the right metrics.

Here, we’ll go into how you can set relevant KPIs, and use the metrics they align with to draw actionable insights from the data they provide.

Setting KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are metrics which indicate how well a given campaign is doing on a given element. They need to be set pretty early on, at initial strategizing level.

KPIs should align both with goals and with measurable metrics. When thinking about a campaign’s goals, a good campaign strategist will look for goals which are measurable. They can then set a KPI for that goal, which will be aligned with a particular metric.

For example, a campaign goal may be to bring subscribers to the brand’s website. A good way to determine the number of subscribers visiting a website from an email is to measure the clickthrough rate. So, a marketer might set a KPI related to the clickthrough rate.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the KPIs most commonly turned into measurable metrics, and how these metrics can help us with campaign performance:

Engagement metrics

  • Open rates – The open rate metric compares the number of emails opened by recipients against the total number of emails delivered.

    Open rates depend a lot on subject lines. If your open-rates are low, try testing out different styles of subject line.

    A low open rate can also be flagging that you’re emails are not being delivered into the inbox. There are several tools and techniques that can be used to combat this issue such as Mail-Tester. Check out our Email Deliverability Guide for more.
  • Clicks – Clicking on links is a good measure of engagement. If people are opening your emails but not following the links within, there are a few things it could mean.

    Your content may not be engaging enough; you may be sending emails at the wrong time; or links may not work on the device your subscribers are using.

    Test out different content styles, research the best time send times, optimize for the most used devices, and make changes accordingly.
  • Bounces – When an email is undelivered, it has ‘bounced’. A high bounce rate may indicate that your sender reputation is too low, and that ESPs are rejecting your emails. Working on your sender reputation will improve your bounce rate and ensure better deliverability.
  • Unsubscribes – People unsubscribe from marketing emails for lots of different reasons, but – assuming that factors like brand reputation remain equal – a couple of things to check include:

    • List hygiene – Make sure that unengaged subscribers are either removed from your list or transferred to a segment that may be more relevant to them.
    • Unengaging content – Comparing unsubs with click rate can yield some interesting insights. If the two match up in the same sectors, it’s a good indicator that your content is just not very interesting.

      Are you using too many pictures and not enough text? Are interactive elements not loading on certain devices? Is the CTA clear enough? Are links lost in oceans of dull text? Try using heatmaps to see where you’re drawing people in and where you’re losing them.
  • Click-to-open rate (CTOR). The CTOR metric tracks clicks and opens. It can tell marketers how many readers close an email immediately after opening it, how many continue to read, how many clickthrough, and so on.

    If your CTOR shows high opens contrasted with low clickthroughs, it’s almost certain that your subject lines are working but your content is not.

Device & ISP metrics

  • Device stats – The way your email is displayed will vary a lot from device to device. If engagement stats are high for desktop users but low for (for example) smartphone users, that’s a good indication that your content is not showing well on mobile devices.

    If you’ve got a segment which uses mobile devices more than desktops, it’s worth smartphone-optimizing your content for these audiences.
  • ISP – Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail… all of these have different mail-handling protocols, and all display mail content in different ways. A multi-vendor system enables marketers to optimize for different I/ESPs on a granular level. So, it’s worth checking to see whether engagement levels are lower for certain email clients.

Turning measurements into action

A good email marketing system will track all of the above metrics and more. It will provide you with precise, detailed data, in the format most useful to you. It will even analyze this data for you.

What it can’t do is draw insights from the data. It can have a surprisingly good guess – but the only person fully furnished with all the facts needed to produce an informed insight is the marketer on the other end of the screen.

Take, for example, a brand which chooses to switch from disposable plastics to more sustainable materials. They launch an email campaign to inform customers about this. The software gathers high CTOR scores.

The software can deduce from this that subscribers are engaged by what they’re seeing, and that the campaign is thus working. But it doesn’t understand why this is happening – all it can do is present the figures.

It can’t recognize that the campaign is tapping into a cultural moment which is engaging people on a global scale. It’s up to the human marketer to understand that this subject matter is making a difference, and to apply that insight to the brand’s direction as a whole.

So, to truly get the best out of KPIs and measurement metrics, it’s vital to maintain the human element. Together, automated data and human intuition are unbeatable. But always be careful not to become over-reliant on either one or the other.

For more email marketing insights and help tips, head over to the Ongage blog.

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