Monday, January 14, 2013

Email Analytics

Email Analytics

Part of my community volunteer work involves managing sports communications for all sports programs run by the LDS Church in Utah. This involves nearly 600 ecclesiastical units who have specialists for all their sports programs as well as officials who referee games for a variety of sports including flag football, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, softball and soccer, to name a few.

Each month we send a monthly newsletter to those who have requested to receive it. For the first few months I was assigned this task, I was concerned that there wasn’t any way to track who had received the emails and who was opening them, etc. The previous owner of the email list just used a gmail account to send the emails to a small group of names at a time, so that the newsletter wouldn’t get tagged as spam by sending it out to a large number of people. Obviously, this made it difficult to track the analytics as well as difficult to know what people were clicking through to and if they continued to our website at all or if they unsubscribed.

As a consumer, I receive many e-newsletters on a daily basis, so I looked up an email marketing company that I had heard of called MailChimp. I created a free account, spent time adding all of our users, and sent out our first newsletter through a MailChimp “campaign.” I used this process again this month. My initial analysis: our e-newsletter needs a lot of help. A ListServ and email marketing product like this is definitely much easier to use, but the real value is in the increased ability to track analytics, which is allowing me to restructure our approach as well as the way we market our newsletter.

Why email marketing analytics?

Email marketing is one of the number one ways to reach the customer. It is often more effective than any other method, including social media, and “not only is it worth it, but done right, email marketing can be one of the most productive acquisition channels for any company” ( Avinash Kaushik. “Email Campaign Analysis.” Web 2.0 . Wiley Publishing: Indiana. 2010, pp.119). The return on investment for email marketing is marked as $57 for every $1 invested in to the email. (Joe Soltis, “Successful Email Marketing—How It’s Done.” Fathom SEO). See further resources at the bottom of the blog to learn about email marketing.

Email marketing increases the ability to track how customers who have signed up for a newsletter respond to the email marketing campaign. Email marketing not only tracks email analytics, but on the actual website, the site analytics can track what the behavior is of people coming in to the site from the newsletter.

Technology

As noted, the two things to track when looking at email analytics are the analytics from the email provider and the website analytics related to the email.

Avinash Kaushik recommends three insights when analyzing email analytics:

•    You must use metrics that are unique to the medium
•    You can’t track everything
•    You need to think end-to-end and not just in a silo.

Email analytics can be tracked using a tagging or tracking strategy that can capture the email analytics by the web analytics tool your site uses (whether it be Google Analytics, Omniture or Yahoo! Web Analytics). Many email newsletter companies or listserv companies also provide the tagging and tracking for you when you use their services ( Avinash Kaushik. “Email Campaign Analysis.” Web 2.0 . Wiley Publishing: Indiana. 2010, pp. 120).

Email analytics can provide a variety of different metrics. They can measure the delivery rate, the open rate, subscriber retention rate (who adds and who deletes) and so forth. On the website side of things, email analytics can measure how long a person who clicks through to the website stays on the website, what the bounce rate is. The analytics can also measure how much revenue is garnered per each email sent, the campaign profitability (subtracting the costs of the campaign from the revenue) and the conversion rate (how often a click-through from an email generates a “sale” or whatever the metric is that means a conversion), ( Avinash Kaushik. “Email Campaign Analysis.” Web 2.0 . Wiley Publishing: Indiana. 2010, pp. 120-122).

Email marketing companies

The history of email marketing is almost as old as the history of sending emails. While email began as a service for students to communicate with each other and businesses to communicate internally, the development of Hotmail in 1996 allowed anyone to create an email address and use it to communicate. Very quickly, businesses recognized this as an opportunity to reach out (Kevin Gao. “Email Marketing History”). In recent years, emphasis has been placed on using social media as a huge effort in the marketing campaign. As noted earlier, though, email has consistently stayed in the top methods of communicating with customers and receiving a great ROI. As companies again realize the value of using email marketing to target their customers, the technology and services companies offer to help them in this process are constantly growing. Nearly every company has a “sign up for our newsletter” or “subscribe here” link on their websites. This method to gather information and then communicate out with customers has increased the marketability of programs that manage email marketing campaigns.

Some of the email marketing companies are: MailerMailer, AWeber, Benchmark Email, MailChimp and iContact. iContact for example, was started in 2003 and now has more than 70,000 customers and 1,000,000 users. MailerMailer boasts more than 70,000 customers.  AWeber claims to have more than 100,000 customers.

See TopTenReviews for the top 16 email marketing companies and their rankings.

Strategy

When using email marketing analytics, the data is easy to gather. But email marketing requires a good strategy to ensure the email is reaching the desired customer and producing the required results.
The first step to consider when developing a strategy is what the purpose is of the email campaign. Is it to increase website traffic? To increase revenue? To increase sales? To encourage people to sign up for additional information?

After determining what the purpose is, the company then has to decide how they get there. They may want a monthly, weekly or daily newsletter sent out. Depending on the schedule, they will need content to fill that newsletter. And then the company has to make choices on what will lead the customers to the final goal. A/B testing may be required to track and see if a red button or a blue button is most likely to lead to the desired action. Essentially, the strategy is what drives how a company will look at the analytics and what they mean once you get them.

“If you’re not getting results out of your email marketing program, consider whether you’ve got a viable strategy (destination) first before questioning your tactics and methods. It doesn’t matter how fast you make the car go if you’re driving in the wrong direction, and it doesn’t matter how much you optimize your open rates or click rates if you don’t have a business goal.” (Christopher S. Penn. “Understanding Email Marketing Strategy.” Whatcounts.com, 21 June 2012).

Further Resources
Email Analytics

Email Marketing