E-commerce Link: Back to School
Most readers of this magazine understand the basics of email analysis, but I think it's always important to do some "refresher courses" to stay on top of the email game. Let's review the ABCs briefly and then move on to examine techniques that are more sophisticated and some tools that can help you be more successful.
The Basics, Part 1: Opens, Clicks and More
Let's jump right into standard campaign reporting. To get your bearings, review the first chart below, titled "Basic Email Campaign Report." (I've included the numbers, so that you can determine the formulas.) Remember opens, clicks and opt-outs are calculated on delivered or accepted emails.
Now, let's take this information further and look at unique activity, visible in the second chart, titled "Unique Activity." Not all email service providers (ESPs) give out information about unique opens and clicks. To understand what portion of your list is actively engaged, it is very helpful to look at unique activity. A portion of this group is opening and clicking multiple times on your emails.
The click to open (CTO) metric is great to measure engagement. It is defined as the unique clicks divided by unique opens. It's based on the theory that if recipients opened an email, it's then important to determine how many recipients were motivated to click. A CTO rate above 35 percent indicates a campaign that is really engaging its recipients.
The Basics, Part 2: Measuring Beyond the Click
Marketers have different objectives for their email programs. Brand marketers and publishers (who may sell ad banners in their emails) are interested in delivered/accepted emails and opens. Conversely, e-tailers will want to look at what happens after the click—potential purchases. They should track these metrics, shown in the third chart, "Purchase and Revenue Activity." This will provide them with big picture information (revenue derived from the campaign) as well as a deeper dive into the revenue per delivered email.
The Basics, Part 3: Benchmarking Results Against Other Industries
Thus far, we've looked at metrics in a vacuum. But sometimes you need to step outside of that and see how you stack up against others in your vertical market. Benchmarking is an indicator of how you compare.
Sources you might use:
- Epsilon has released quarterly reports for several years. I like the consistent year-over-year data available. The site requires registration to access the free information.
- eDataSource offers a variety of services that monitor and track consumer emails. The company tracks thousands of consumer emails, and its tools provide reports on email, Facebook and Twitter to provide competitive intelligence. There is a cost for this service.
- EmailStatCenter.com provides information on a variety of topics including stats by industry and international stats.
Beyond the Basics: It's All About Data
Once you have the basic analytics in place, it's time to start reviewing your customers based on who they are, their interactions with email and their interactions with your website. To take your program to the next level, it is very helpful to work with an ESP that ties in site and social tracking.
You'll succeed as an email marketer if you develop a strategy to speak to distinct groups within your list. The first two places to start are your registration forms and your preference center. These provide you with the ability to capture data and content interests from your list.
Many ESPs offer the ability to query your list on any of your data fields to obtain segment counts. For example, you might know how many females are on your file between the ages of 25 and 45 who have opened an email in the past three months. If the resulting count is meaningful as a percentage of your file, you can easily create this group as a segment. Now, you're ready to market to this target.
Forrester Research issued a report in January 2012 that evaluated the top email service providers. As part of the evaluation, the analyst firm asked marketers about various aspects of segmentation:
- 73 percent of marketers surveyed segment email recipients based on site behavior. This means they examine browsing behavior to determine products and product categories of interest and then use that information to craft targeted messaging.
- 68 percent use past purchase behavior to segment. RFM is an important direct marketing technique based on the proposition that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Look at how recently a customer has purchased (recency), how often they purchase (frequency), and how much the customer spends (monetary).
- 53 percent have a program to address inactive users. Marketers find ways to identify those who are not opening and clicking, and put plans in place to re-engage these recipients.
If you don't have much data and feel it will take too long to capture meaningful information, here are some thoughts:
Work with a third-party data provider to overlay data on your file. There are many reputable vendors, such as Acxiom, Experian and KBM Group. Start by examining what data fields they have, decide what elements make sense for your business, and then provide a test file. You'll be able to see what match rates you get before you move further.
One online company to check out is Connection Engine (connectionengine.com). InsightConnect is one of its service offerings; check out the short video on its home page. It describes the company's real-time data analysis offering that uses more than 50 billion data points including demographics, income and geography. You simply upload a test file of email addresses. The company will also provide you with a look at your customers' propensity to purchase in 50 different categories, as well as lifestyle interests. Best of all, you can try this online service for free.
Another company to look at is Rapleaf (rapleaf.com). Its offering is not as robust, but you can upload a test file for free and receive a profile of your audience, as well as match rates on each field. You then decide which data fields are important to you, and they will be appended to your file for a fee. Rapleaf integrates with some ESPs to deliver data right inside your existing platform.
Now, we've just scratched the surface! Analyze your results and determine which campaigns are working. Then begin to develop segments of your list. You will be more relevant if you communicate with a target audience with offers and content tailored to the group.