An effective email marketing campaign can be an advisor’s secret weapon to engaging current clients, warming leads and improving site interactions. While taking the time to optimize your email newsletter is crucial, it’s also important to understand what metrics you should be tracking once the email has been sent. If you ignore your email marketing metrics, how will you know if the campaign is worth your time? Gathering hard data is one of the greatest ways to improve your rates, optimize your emails and prove to yourself and stakeholders that your strategies are effective.
Each of these metrics are used to understand how effective your emails are before, during and after they’re opened. If you’re using a third-party mailing service, such as MailChimp, you should have all the tools you need to measure and analyze any of the metrics below.
Metric #1: Deliverability
First things first, are your emails actually making it into your subscriber’s inbox? If you haven’t thought to check, that’s okay! Deliverability is often taken for granted, but it can actually be a great place to start when evaluating your email’s effectiveness. A low deliverability rate can alert you to several possible scenarios:
- You’re sending to invalid email addresses
- Your email list is outdated or incorrect
- You’re using phrases or words that trigger automated spam filters
This may go without saying, but if you aren’t making it into your target audience’s inbox for any of the reasons above, fixing that should be your first focus. In regards to deliverability, simple solutions such as updating your email list regularly, checking for incorrect email addresses or removing anyone who hasn’t interacted with your email in the last year or so can make a big improvement on your rates.
What is Deliverability by Domain?
If possible, try and figure out your deliverability rates by domain – Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc. If they all offer similar data, it’s likely your address list is outdated or incorrect. If one shows a much lower delivery rate than the others, then it’s likely that some words or phrases are triggering the server’s spam filter. Use A/B testing to change up the wording and continuously monitor your emails’ deliverability rates for that particular server.
Metric #2: Bounce Rate
Your email’s bounce rate goes hand-in-hand with its deliverability. A “bounce” is when an email you sent out was unable to be delivered and essentially “bounces back” to you. The higher the bounce rate, the fewer emails are landing in the inboxes of your subscribers. When measuring bounce rates, there are two kinds to consider: soft bounces and hard bounces.
Soft Bounces vs. Hard Bounces
Think of soft bounces as temporary issues and hard bounces as more permanent problems.
Soft bounces will be less impactful on your sender reputation since these are often simple, unavoidable issues. Soft bounces can be caused by issues such as the server being down, your email size was too large or the recipient’s inbox is full.
Hard bounces occur when you’ve been blocked by the server or you’re trying to send an email to an invalid email address. To avoid hard bounces, consider having subscribers do a double opt-in, meaning they must verify their email address and confirm that they wish to receive your emails. This can help avoid any accidental subscribing (which can lead to your emails being considered spam) and typos in email addresses.
Metric #3: Spam Complaints
While your gut reaction to a spam complaint is probably to ignore or avoid it, a buildup of complaints could cause some serious trouble for your advisor business’s email marketing campaign. In fact, if the number of spam complaints gets too high, email service providers will take notice. This means penalties in the form of a hard bounce or sentencing to the spam folder could be coming your way
Instead of ignoring the issue, consider why someone would consider your email to be spam. Your content or call to action (CTA) could be coming off as too pushy or aggressive, or perhaps it’s not on-brand enough for your customers to easily recognize who it’s from.
Metric #4: Unsubscribe Rates
While getting some unsubscribers with every email blast is inevitable, it’s important to look for patterns and sudden spikes. An uptick in unsubscribers is likely to indicate some change you’ve made that your subscribers are not responding well to. Reasons for a spike in unsubscriptions could include:
- You’re sending emails too frequently
- You’re not personalizing or segmenting your email lists
- The emails are not engaging or compelling enough for your readers
Instead of passively watching your email list dwindle, use this as a learning opportunity. Did you recently switch from a monthly to weekly email schedule? Your recipients may be telling you this is too frequent. Are you sending the same email to your retirees as you’re sending to Gen X/Yers? Neither party may be connecting with the content. Change and test your theories until you see your rates plateau.
Metric #5: Open Rate
The open rate of an email is, as it sounds, how many people are opening your email versus how many people you sent the email out to. Assuming the email was delivered successfully, there are two factors that play into why an email is opened or not: the subject line and sender name. Both of these crucial components are competing against an inbox full of other marketed emails. Therefore, A/B test to find a compelling and inviting subject line that resonates with your audience.
Your open rate is extremely important because if your emails aren’t being opened, then any work to optimize your email inside won’t be seen.
How are Open Rates Determined?
If you’ve noticed that your open rate is lower than you had expected, there’s often a simple reason why. An email is actually considered “open” when the receiver clicks on the email and a 1×1 pixel image is downloaded to the receiver’s inbox. While this image downloaded is what’s used to determine your open rate, there are certain situations in which the pixel may not have been downloaded, meaning the email was opened but not counted. This is often because the user has chosen not to download email images in their inbox.
What are Mobile Open Rates?
The number of recipients checking their email on their smartphones is constantly increasing, which means your emails’ mobile open rates should not be neglected. If you find that these open rates are much lower than they should be, it’s likely because your emails are not optimized for mobile viewing.
Emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within 3 seconds.
Metric #6: Click-Through Rate (CTR)
If you’re getting people to open your emails, think of that as being half the battle. The other half? Getting them to click through to your site. Click-through rates are determined by how many people clicked on the CTA in your email to enter your site or landing page. If you’re finding that receivers are opening your emails but not clicking through, it’s likely that your content, especially your CTA, is not convincing enough.
Try adjusting your CTA by placing it in a more prominent location, such as higher up in the email or more centered. Use action-oriented verbs such as “register,” “download” or “sign-up.” When choosing what words to include in your CTA, try to strike a balance between being clear and being pushy.
We recommend keeping your CTAs limited to one or two per email, and you should only point to one landing page per email. Too many CTAs can be overwhelming while having multiple landing pages will only cause competition for one another.
By using Mailchimp’s click map feature we can better understand how our CTAs we performing in an email campaign. In the example below, you can see that a recent webinar invite distributed by Twenty Over Ten received the most clicks (44.1%) on the CTA “Sign Up Today.” The second runner up was the CTA “Register Now” with 33.9% clicks.
Metric #7: Conversion Rate
The conversion rate is where the magic happens. When it comes to your email marketing campaign, conversion is the end game. All of those other optimized metrics are used to help get as many qualified subscribers to this point as possible.
The conversion rate measures how many subscribers actually opened an email, clicked through to your landing page and accomplished the task you wanted them to do. This could include scheduling an appointment, filling out a survey or signing up for a future webinar.
So how does your conversion rate compare to your click-through rate?
If your click-through rate is high but conversion is low … Then your emails’ content and CTAs are effective at driving traffic to your site, but your landing page is falling short of the visitor’s expectations. If this is the case, you’ll want to focus on optimizing your landing page for lead conversion.
If your click-through rate is low but conversion is high … Then your landing page is working as a well-oiled machine, but your email’s CTAs or overall content could use a little work. Here you’ll want to focus on A/B testing parts of your email to find out what makes customers click through.
Metric #8: Social Sharing & Forwarding Rate
Yes, we’re talking about email. But that doesn’t mean we can forget about another marketing powerhouse: social media. If you’ve incorporated social media sharing icons within your emails (and we highly suggest you do), your subscribers can easily share your information on their social media profiles. Tracking these shares is an effective way to find out how many of your subscribers are turning into advocates for your firm. By their social shares, they’re endorsing your business while helping you grow your audience organically.
You’ll also want to track how often your emails are being forwarded to others. Similar to social shares, this tells you what types of emails readers are resonating with enough to not only click through and convert but share with others as well. This additional viewership is imperative to gaining consistent growth of your subscriber list.
Metric #9: List Growth Rate
Finding your list growth rate will require a bit of math, but it can be well worth it. Understanding how your list is evolving over a designated period of time can help quantify your efforts. Because unsubscribers are inevitable, if your list isn’t growing, it’s dying.
To find the list growth rate, use the following equation. Each number should be pulled for a certain period of time:
(Total number of NEW subscribers – hard bounces or unsubscribers)/total number of subscribers
For example: Between January and April, you gained 65 new subscribers. In that time, 20 people unsubscribed from your newsletter. If your total number of subscribers between January and April (those you previously acquired plus the new ones) was 180, then your list growth rate is (65-20)/180= 0.25 or 25% growth.
Tracking Your Email Marketing Metrics
If you’re working to optimize your emails, then think of tracking your email metrics as seeing how you scored. Use these metrics to determine what your emails are doing right and how you can improve. Obtaining hard data like the metrics above is the only way to truly quantify your efforts and prove your strategies to yourself and others.