The Most Important Email Metrics
Repeat after me: Opens and clicks. Opens and clicks. Opens and clicks. Get to know the mantra now and save yourself time trying to figure out how to ensure your email campaigns are successful. Typically expressed as ratios, opens represent the percentage of recipients who actually opened your email and clicks represent the percentage of recipients who clicked a link in your email.
While after four years of school, you might know a thing or two about return on investment (ROI), the first step to understanding how well an email campaign does is monitoring opens and clicks. Luckily, your email service provider (ESP—think MailChimp for small/medium businesses and Salesforce Marketing Cloud for larger companies) should have a dashboard showing these metrics.
Many who have been in email marketing since its inception in the mid to late 90s still focus primarily on opens and clicks, so if that’s all you ever learned about tracking campaign success, you’d do pretty well. Though if you want to really impress your boss, start paying attention to campaign costs and return on marketing — or marginal — investment (ROMI). Cash will always be king and the sooner you can learn how to connect marketing spend with revenue, the better off you’ll be.
The Future of Email
Marketing futurists love alluding to Minority Report. I’m sure I’ve done it myself at one point or another as well. If you haven’t seen the movie, it shows a future in which billboards scan our eyes and serve ads for things we might like at that very moment. A bit creepy, right? Well, science fiction is fast becoming reality.
The buzz phrase in email marketing today is “contextual marketing.” This type of marketing uses data to learn about an individual and advertise based on various contextual clues. For instance, if you have ordered Domino’s Pizza every Friday for the past six weeks, Pizza Hut might send you an email on Friday afternoon with a coupon. How did they know you were buying Domino’s? A discussion for another time.
Contextual marketing can seem a bit daunting since it involves data collection, storage and analysis, plus potentially multi-modal (i.e., email + social + mobile) communications. The good news is we’re still far from that. Your first email marketing job will very likely include segmenting and targeting, but we are still a couple years away from automating campaigns based on contextual clues. Still good to know what’s around the corner.
This isn’t anywhere close to complete, even for a primer. We still need to cover email design, coding, segmentation, personalization, major players in the space and a dozen or so other topics. That’s alright. This is a start. Whether your first job is at an ESP or you never end up entering the industry, having a broad range of knowledge will prepare you to tackle most challenges you’ll face as a marketer. Congratulations on graduating college and good luck out there. If they still play Vitamin C at graduations, remember that as your career changes, from whatever, email will still be, your friend forever.