MailChimp, ConstantContact, ConvertKit, Drip, AWeber, GetResponse – which email marketing platform is the best? As a business owner, you want to maximize your email marketing effort. You may have asked for recommendations and read dozens of reviews – only to find mixed opinions.
The great news is – the exact platform you use does not matter! If you already have an existing platform, you don’t have to switch.
What matters more is which features you are using and which metrics you are measuring. If you’re running a small business, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of features available. But not all are equally important, especially in the early stages of your business.
This post covers 5 of the most essential metrics you should be looking at as a small business. Focus on these things, and you will see your customer list and effectiveness increase.
But first, let’s recap why email marketing is the lifeblood of a business.
Why Email Marketing?
Across the majority of industries, email marketing provides the highest Return-On-Investment. Yet it’s also one of the easiest to execute, compared to websites, SEO, social media, and mobile.
Think about it for a second. To build a website, you need to hire a developer, unless you know how to code yourself. Even if you use a plug-and-play solution like Shopify, you must understand how plugins work. To maintain an active presence on social media, you need to be churning out content every single day. For SEO, you need to be reviewing your targeted keywords weekly. For mobile, you need to optimize across different screen sizes and operating systems.
Almost anyone, though, can sign up for a free email marketing service and start sending emails immediately. You don’t even need a designer, unlike with every other channel. In fact, emails are the unique channel where text trumps design!
An experiment run by Marketo found that:
Text-based emails versus HTML emails had a 21% higher unique click-through rate on the offer link (100% statistical significance).
That means when you take out repeated clicks by the same person + only look at clicks on the promotion (instead of social buttons), text trumps design by a large margin!
It makes sense when you think about how versatile email is. Whether a customer is on a desktop, mobile device, or even a smartwatch – email is easily readable. And then there’s the fact that people receive important messages from their colleagues and banks via email. It’s a channel people will check daily!
5 Key Email Marketing Metrics
Now that we’ve covered the role email plays in your marketing strategy, let’s dive into the 5 most basic metrics that every email marketer should be looking at:
1. Open Rate
This is the number of people who opened your email divided by the total number of emails sent (minus bounces). It indicates how effective your subject line is in compelling readers to open the email. Personalizing the sender’s name to include a human name instead of just a company name can also have an impact on the open rate.
2. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
This is the number of people who clicked on a button within the email divided by the total number of emails sent (minus bounces). There are several types of CTRs that can be measured – individual clicks (the same person clicking three times equals three clicks) or unique clicks (the same person clicking three times only counts as one click). You can also measure any link click (including social sharing buttons) versus only clicks on the main offer link (e.g. a big “Shop Now!” button). This rate is a proxy for how relevant and effective the content within the email is to compel the user to click through to the next step.
3. Conversion Rate
This is closely related to the Click-Through Rate, but it measures a specific action (defined by you) that you want to track. For example, a successful conversion could be a completed purchase or the customer filling up a form. This percentage is simply the number of people who completed the action successfully divided by the number of people the email was sent to.
4. Bounce Rate
The bounce rate is the number of bounced emails divided by the total number of emails sent. There are two types of bounces: hard bounces and soft bounces. A hard bounce means the email address does not exist or is invalid. A soft bounce means the email address exists, but it did not send because the recipient’s inbox was full, the server was down, or the message was too large for the recipient’s inbox.
The bounce rate is a good indicator of the quality of your list. If you are growing your list by getting customers to sign up for your list voluntarily, the bounce rate is usually low. Sending mass emails to scraped or bought emails or even old (>1 year old) databases of emails is not a good idea as it increases your bounce rate. Bounced emails hurt your reputation as a sender, and service providers can suspend your email if your list has too many bounces.
5. Growth Rate
The growth rate is the number of new subscribers minus the number of unsubscribes divided by the previous list size. This expresses as a fraction how quickly your list is growing over a period of time.
As you can see, each one of these metrics takes time to understand and analyze. Each provides a wealth of information about how effective your email marketing efforts are. Getting these five metrics in good shape will take time and effort.
Your current email provider probably already provides you with information on all these metrics. If you start with just these five, and aim to improve them continuously, you will see results from your email marketing.
As you scale up, you can think about leveraging fancier features such as segmentation (sending differently worded emails to portions of your mailing list instead of blasting the whole list) and A/B or split testing (testing different subject lines, wording, and designs to see what your audience responds to best).