Email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools marketers and business owners can use to connect with their target audience and increase their brand authority and presence. But no matter how dedicated you are to creating fabulous emails with gorgeous graphics and attention-grabbing subject lines, none of it matters if you can’t measure the success of your efforts.
In order to effectively integrate email marketing into your overall strategy, you need to make sure it’s helping you achieve your goals and that the numbers are heading in the right direction. Here are 6 ways you can use email analytics to refine and improve your B2B email marketing strategy.
1. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
An email's click-through rate is the percentage of contacts (those contacts who received the email) who actually went ahead and clicked on one or more links within your email. Monitoring this metric is important to see if the content you are sending out is perceived as valuable and relevant to your audience. Be sure to track different email types individually; for example, a segmented lead nurturing campaign email offering an industry-relevant white paper to a similar group of prospects is likely going to have a higher CTR than a newsletter blast to your entire contact database.
Some marketers also like to monitor the open rates of emails. Unfortunately, this can actually be an unreliable metric, as an email is only considered opened if the recipient also receives the images contained in the email, and email providers will often automatically block images. So even if they open the email, if they didn’t download the images, they won’t be included in these numbers. Not many people are aware of this, but as a result, we consider open rate a bit of a "vanity metric."
What you can do: If you notice your CTR is low or declining, take a look at the offers you are sending to your contacts. A declining CTR indicates your content isn’t resonating with your audience. You should always segment your contact lists to better enable you to send the content for which that specific audience will see the greatest value. Another thing to look at is the performance of your call-to-action (CTA) within the email. Including a graphic call-to-action is more compelling than a text link. Try to incorporate a visual to entice your audience to click through to an engaging landing page on your website.
2. Conversion Rate
The conversion rate is the percentage of recipients who performed the desired action – clicked through to the landing page and downloaded an ebook, for instance, or signed up for a webinar. This particular metric really measures the success of your email. The higher the conversion rate, the more successful your campaign!
What you can do: If your conversion rate is low and you’ve already segmented your list according to the offer, be sure to review the quality of your landing page. It should contain a strong headline, compelling copy with a bulleted list and a form that isn’t too long or asking for more information than the offer is worth. Completing the desired action should be a painless process for the user. Click here for more tips on improving your landing page conversion rates!
3. Bounce Rate
The bounce rate is the percentage of emails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox. This metric is important in determining if there are problems with your contact list and can help you to keep it as clean as possible. The decision to not deliver your email comes from the recipient’s email server for various reasons. There are two types of bounces: soft bounces and hard bounces.
- A soft bounce indicates that the email address was valid and the email reached the email server. However, the reason it was bounced may be that the recipient’s mailbox was full, the message contained a file that was too large or there was a problem with the server. The email server will often continue to try to deliver the message for a short period of time, in case the problem is temporary.
- A hard bounce tells you that the email address is invalid or doesn’t exist and your message cannot be delivered. These contacts should be deleted in order to keep your contact list as up-to-date and clean as possible. (Just check to be sure you haven't entered an email address incorrectly. Or perhaps the contact has a new email address and you just need to update your contact record.)
What you can do: Soft bounces are often temporary, so you do not need to remove these contacts. Hard bounces, however, need your attention. Bounce rates are used to determine the email sender’s reputation, so you'll want to keep this as low as possible. No one wants to be labeled as spam!
4. List Growth Rate
The list growth rate shows how quickly your contact list is growing (easy one, right?). Since the typical contact list tends to decay at a rate of 22% each year (as people may change jobs, email providers, etc.), it’s important to keep obtaining new contacts and expanding your reach.
What you can do: If you notice your list growth rate declining, make sure you're sending out relevant content that your contacts want, so they aren’t unsubscribing. Although a high list growth rate is desired, remember the importance of quality versus quantity of contacts. Maybe a lower growth rate is an acceptable goal if these contacts will be engaged and excited to receive your emails. Be sure to include ways for them to subscribe to your newsletter or other email communications around your website.
5. Unengaged Subscribers
Your unengaged subscribers are just as important as those who are subscribing to your emails. Unengaged subscribers are those who opted in at some point but aren’t opening your emails anymore (let's say for about 3-6 months). When this happens, you are actually sending them “graymail” – and email providers will see the low engagement rates on these emails and start sending them directly to the junk folder.
What you can do: You obviously don’t want your emails ever classified as graymail. It will affect your overall email deliverability, so it's best to keep an eye on unengaged subscribers and remove them from your list if they don’t reengage. But before throwing in the towel, what you can do is round up a list of these contacts, craft a series of 3 or 4 reengagement campaign emails with clever subject lines specifically designed to attract their attention ("Long time no talk"... "Are we breaking up?"... or something simple like "Do you still want to hear from us?"), and try to break down that wall! If they don't open or click through any of those emails, it's safe to say you can delete them.
6. Number of New Sales Qualified Leads
Click-through rates and conversion rates are important to monitor but in the end, new leads are what you're really after. While you want to retain your current subscribers and continue to engage with them, in order to keep your list growing and fresh, you need to attract new leads that are truly interested in your products or services.
What you can do: In order to increase your number of SQLs, be sure to send out emails that offer quality content for download. If you are sending out valuable offers, people won’t mind filling out a form to access it, and you will nurture these leads and strengthen the relationship you have with them. If a particular lead has already downloaded an introductory eBook from your website, serve up a more middle-of-the-funnel offer like a webinar invitation or case study. Every stage of the sales cycle should be accompanied by emails containing appropriate content.
Using analytics in your B2B email marketing strategy is vital to maintaining your overall email health. It’s so important to monitor how your email marketing is trending. If metrics are going in the wrong direction, you know it’s time to review what you are sending and who you are sending it to. Taking the time every month to go through this process will ensure that you are maintaining and advancing the reputation of your brand.