It was management guru Peter Drucker who once said, “What gets measured gets managed.”
With B2B marketers working diligently to gather and keep customers, they inevitably must track their activities and results to see what’s working and what’s not. Just as importantly, they will almost certainly be asked to provide proof points to the C-Suite to justify their activities, budgets, and perhaps even their jobs. So what metrics should marketers be tracking to ensure their email marketing programs are heading in the right direction?
While there can be many metrics to monitor, here are six specific to email that matter most to marketers:
- Clickthrough: This measures those who click on your email links, and helps determine message performance, especially over time and compared to others you might send. Clickthrough rates (CTR) can also help determine the results of A/B tests, as those messages with the highest CTR are resonating with your audience and drawing the most responses. CTR provides direct insight into how many people in your target market are engaging with your content—and interested in learning more about topics associated with your company or offerings.
- Conversion: Once the prospect has clicked on the link within your email, the next objective should be to convert them into an opportunity by prompting them to take the desired action. For example, if your email “ask” is to have your targets download a whitepaper or register for a webinar, the number of those who actually download the whitepaper or register for the webinar are your conversions. No doubt, conversion rates are important metrics to track to ensure you’re making offerings that are of interest to your market.
- Bounce: This metric determines the percentage of emails that could not be delivered to a recipient’s inbox. Furthermore, it indicates the overall health of your list database. Bounces come in two flavors. “Soft” bounces involve messages sent to valid email addresses. The messages may have been held up due to temporary issues, such as the recipient’s server being down. (If so, they may still be delivered later, or you could resend). “Hard” bounces indicate an invalid, closed or non-existent email address to which your message cannot be delivered. These addresses should be immediately removed from your database, as internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates to determine an email sender’s reputation. Too many hard bounces will move you to their dreaded spammer list.
- List growth: B2B marketers should always be looking to grow their lists in order to expand their reach and position themselves as a trusted resource and thought leader. A growing list means that your messaging and positioning is resonating with your target market. Of course, striving for quality—not quantity—is typically the best course of action. Also, there is a natural erosion of an email marketing list—typically about 20-25% every year. The bottom line? Pay close attention to the overall stability, health and well-being of your database.
- Sharing and forwarding: While at first glance, this metric might indicate an off-target message, a shared or forwarded email can deliver a brand new contact to your database. It is also a positive indication that a subscriber thought enough of your message to recommend it to a colleague, making it almost like an endorsement, and a much more valuable message than one that is coming strictly from you. Always encourage your audience to pass along your emails if they find them interesting or helpful, and track this metric to gain an understanding of the content that they consider useful.
- Return on investment: As is the case with other marketing activities, ROI for email marketing must be tracked. In measuring your success, you can compare email marketing to the ROI of your other activities and initiatives, and see which one is delivering the most leads (marketing-generated leads), potential revenue (sales-qualified opportunities) and company revenue (closed sales). If you’re like most marketers, the ROI of your email efforts will be much higher and easier to quantify than your other marketing initiatives.
Before you launch your next email campaign, ask yourself what the goal is. Is it to generate more leads? Maybe convert more leads into paying customers? Or perhaps to grow your audience and subscriber base? Whatever your goal, make a point to determine the metric you’ll track to measure your success. Then go create your campaign and achieve or surpass that goal. (Oh, and impress that C-Suite at the same time!)
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