Email campaigns are still the number-one engagement channel, and sit right at the core of any successful marketing strategy. Today’s marketing teams are under increased pressure to continuously prove impact, effectiveness, and ROI for their marketing campaigns. This is particularly true for email marketing.

According to technology research firm Radicati, the number of email accounts worldwide continues to grow, from over 4.1 billion accounts in 2014, to an expected over 5.2 billion accounts by the end of 2018. The total number of worldwide email users, including both business and consumer users, is also increasing, from over 2.5 billion in 2014, to over 2.8 billion in 2018.

With that sort of volume, it is increasingly difficult for marketers to cut through the noise and engage their target customers. There are many ways to improve the quality and engagement potential of emails, including some of the most basic practices that are easy to overlook when you’re moving quickly, as many of us so often are. For example, ensuring the sender’s name and the subject line are spelt correctly is certainly a good start (come on, you know you see this mistake too often).

Conversely, since each email client typically handles images and attachments differently, it’s important to check that the ALT text, (the text that shows up in place of a blocked image), contains no typos and is appropriate for the image it represents. This is a small but important detail that is easy to overlook.

Finally, marketers should make sure the conversion funnel is lined with relevant links that the recipient will find helpful and interesting; taking the time to get it right could make all the difference to the success of your campaign. This may sound time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Technology, from hyper email personalisation, to automation and targeting, can help marketers create email campaigns that recommend the best ways to reach the right target, at the right time, with the right content.

Most of us know these basic email best practices, just like we know that we must analyse campaign performance and commit to continuous iteration and improvement. But what should you look for, beyond open and click-through rates, to understand the effectiveness of a campaign and identify opportunities for improvement? How can you dig deeper? How do you uncover more helpful information? Then, what should you do with that information once you find it?

How to Measure the Success of Email Campaigns

Even the most basic email programs show open and click-through rates (CTRs), but the more advanced tools offer marketers access to more important post-click metrics, including sale conversions, downloads, page impressions, and donations, all depending on the call-to-action included in the campaign.

It’s tempting for marketers to simply look at metrics such as those above to determine campaign success, but before starting to measure success, before the email is even deployed, marketing experts should know exactly what they intend to achieve. If not, they risk drawing the wrong conclusions, and making inappropriate changes in future campaigns.

Below, we have outlined some common goals for email campaigns and effective ways to measure them.

New or Total Leads Generated

If the goal is generating leads, content should focus on just that; providing offers or incentives that will convince recipients to submit a lead capture form. This form should be created carefully, only requesting information that is truly necessary and will be most helpful in the lead nurturing process. Additionally, the quantity and depth of information requested should align with what the recipient is going to receive in return. In other words, don’t ask for an individual’s life story in exchange for a simple, basic white paper. Only ask for what you need, and what is relevant for that campaign. This will maximise not only the quantity, but also the quality of leads generated.

Growing a Subscriber List

Some of the main focuses of many email campaigns are to grow awareness, bring visitors to the brand’s website, build blog subscribers, and add email list subscribers. For these emails, the focus should be on the call-to-action that encourages these specific behaviours. With that said, growth rate for the subscriber list is likely the most important metric to look at when determining success.

Alongside the increase in subscribers, a contraindicator of success that also needs to be monitored is the number of disengaged subscribers. Continuing to push emails to individuals who are not engaged can hurt the overall deliverability of emails. Internet Service Providers (ISPs, such as Gmail or Yahoo) notice low engagement rates, and will send certain emails straight to ‘junk’ or ‘promotion’ folders, drastically lowering the chance emails will be seen. Noticing and proactively reaching out to reengage these subscribers all falls under the important category of measuring subscriber success.

Converting Leads to Engaged Customers

Perhaps the goal of a certain email campaign is to persuade leads to complete a purchase and become customers. In this case, the email’s call-to-action should be focused on the product or service offering. As such, the lead-to-customer conversion rate is the metric on which to focus. If the goal is for customers to make a purchase, and 90% of recipients open the email, or click on the offering, but don’t make a purchase, few marketers should consider that a success.

Final Thoughts

While these objectives may seem obvious, they are important to remember when building and analysing campaigns. Measuring success against relevant metrics, as opposed to only open and click-through rates, is a much more effective way to determine success. These metrics will also serve to guide optimisation and improvements.

Ready to launch more successful email campaigns? Learn how Emarsys can help create dynamic and vibrant content for your recipients.

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