There should be no email marketer that sends bulk mail via an Outlook desktop client or on a home-grown SMTP server that lacks reporting and tracking. That may sound like a bold statement, but think about it for a moment. Do you conduct any other type of online marketing activity without any way to track performance?
No? Then why should email be any different?
No matter your business size, there is a minimum level of metrics and analytics that you need to have access to in order to ensure ongoing success.
The very basics for every email marketer are:
IP reputation – You can use the free tool from Return Path called Sender Score to measure reputation on a 0-100 scale. Why is this important? Well, IP reputation is one of the metrics ISPs (Internet Service Protocols) use to determine whether your mail will get delivered or not. A score less than 80 is cause for concern, so be sure to look your sending IP(s) up!
Feedback Loop (FBL) & bounce reports – Many basic SMTP servers fail at this (and at IP reputation), because they are not set up to receive feedback from the ISPs on whether the mail was delivered and what happened if not. So FBLs report complaints and the receiving server sends back bounce reports so you as a marketer can be proactive in removing these email addresses from your database.
Unsubscribes – Because of the obvious fact of needing to have an unsubscribe link in your emails by law, you must comply by removing these people from the list in a set period of time (varies by country).
Opens – Even though email opens are not the best metric for determining success, as ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.com are utilizing user activity as a measure of deliverability, it’s important that you know which of your subscribers appear inactive so you can regularly clean your list.
This should be enough data for Small Market to get by and do well until they’re ready to move on to the next level.
For mid-market, we add in a few more data layers:
Clicks – What did people do with your email when they received the message? Which links did they click on? How many subscribers did you lose along the conversion path (delivered > open > click > conversion)?
Analytics – The Mid-market should at least have Google Analytics in place to track the post-click activity on the website. It’s a free tool and there is no excuse not to have analytics and tracking on the website beyond just for email marketing optimization.
Conversions – Again, you want to see the entire conversion path to determine how successful a campaign it was. Conversions also allow you to calculate a rough estimate of ROI (Return on Investment), which will help with revenue projections and resource allocation.
One can make an argument for social sharing metrics, at the mid-market level also.
When one enters the Enterprise level, the amount of data that is accessible to the marketer should be near limitless. As marketers at the Enterprise level are likely conducting in-depth and complex campaigns, it’s important that every piece of the puzzle is tracked from start to finish. It’s recommended that Enterprise marketers invest in a paid analytics tool like Omniture or Core Metrics to bring the puzzle together.
They are also likely in need of an integrated marketing automation tool that combines their CRM database with not only email but integrating other (online and mobile) channels also to track in one place.
Let us know what you think: Do you have other data needs from your email service provider? What metrics are most important in your opinion?