Comment Spotlight: The Most Important Email Stat?
From time to time comments on the blog are worth discussing with everyone in a new post. Friday’s post on confirmation rates sparked a discussion of other other stats that we can measure and improve. Glenn voiced a question that I think all of us have asked at some point: “In looking at each email list you have available, what sort of metrics are the best to monitor? I think if you had to pick one metric, overall conversion rate is probably best[.]” So Is There A Single Best Metric?
By Justin Premick October 25, 2007
From time to time comments on the blog are worth discussing with everyone in a new post.
Friday’s post on confirmation rates sparked a discussion of other other stats that we can measure and improve.
Glenn voiced a question that I think all of us have asked at some point:
“In looking at each email list you have available, what sort of metrics are the best to monitor? I think if you had to pick one metric, overall conversion rate is probably best[.]”
For a lot of people, email stats are a way to monitor the “health” of their campaigns. We want to see, at a glance, how profitable our email marketing is.
But before we can begin to answer his question, we should address the two bigger questions here:
Is there one “best” or “most important” email metric?
If not, are some helpful metrics that we can look at, and what do they tell us?
Is There One Superior Metric?
Glenn’s comment reminded me of the question, “If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have one CD with you, what would it be?” It’s a fun exercise, but is/should be entirely theoretical.
Here’s the thing: if you restrict yourself to looking at one stat, you miss out on information that other stats tell you, and the potential gains that your reaction to those other stats could bring.
Take conversion rates, for example. They give us a broad view of our success. If you know your conversion rate, how many subscribers you’re communicating with, and what your profit is per conversion, you can easily calculate how lucrative your email campaigns are.
Ignore a metric, and you ignore the potentially useful information it contains.
But what if you want to improve your conversion rate? What’s the first step you take?
A lot of things factor into how effectively your email campaigns convert prospects to customers. Like subject lines, and “from” addresses, and your calls-to-action. If all we look at is our conversion rate, we’re less likely to see that (for example) maybe our subjects are poor, or maybe our calls-to-action work better as images than as text.
So What Are Some Basic Stats To Keep An Eye On?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible metrics, but if you’re not sure what to track, this is a good place to start.
What it tells you:
For HTML messages, tells you what percentage of people opened your email. Often used to judge the effectiveness of subject lines, days/times to send messages and “from” names/addresses.
Caution: Take with a grain of salt.
Opens are tracked using a 1×1 image, and are skewed by preview panes (people don’t read your email but their email program loads the image) and image blocking (people read your email but the tracking image never loads).
The usefulness of opens is comparing and tracking their change over time to see if more or fewer subscribers appear to be opening your messages.
What it tells you:
Shows what percentage of subscribers clicked links in your messages. Often used to judge the effectiveness of a link’s presentation (location, color, size, image vs. text) as well as message body copy.
Caution: Click-through rates can be misleading, too, if you look at them by themselves — if fewer people open your email, fewer chances are fewer people are going to click your links. A message that had fewer clicks may still have had an effective body, but just a really low open rate.
You may find the next stat more useful for measuring link/body effectiveness.
What it tells you:
Click-Through Rate divided by Open Rate. For example, a message with a 40% open rate and a 20% click-through rate has a clicks-to-opens rate of 50%.
Attempts to give you a more accurate picture of how effectively you drive people to click your links by isolating the part of your list that actually opened your message.
There are tons of other stats that you could come up with as you go, but when looking at the effectiveness of your emails, these three are a good place to begin.
And yes, you’ll want to keep track of your conversions too 🙂
Want to know more about this or any other email marketing topic?