Open Clicks Conversions/Transactions… These are the metrics that email marketers look at to analyze performance and develop strategies. I have been in email for more than 20 years, and these were historically the metrics we utilized to determine the success of an email campaign. But what happens when those metrics aren’t important to determining the success of your email marketing program?
I had a client tell me recently that “email is their most successful channel,” and the days we send emails, “sales are significantly up.” At first, my thought was, “yay!” but when I looked at the metrics, in this case, opens, clicks and loyalty visits, the story was hard for me to see. Why? Because they are a restaurant and to them, a successful email program means people in the door, and without any offers, it was near impossible for me to tie back transactions to the specific emails.
Restaurants aren’t the only ones who face this unique challenge of trying to determine how to measure the success of an email program. Any business with a unique conversion metric faces this same challenge, and for us email marketers who LOVE data, it is often challenging to tell the story with “offline” metrics.
So, when the metrics that we are all so used to aren’t as important, how do we measure the success of a specific email or email marketing program?
Start with setting goals– Understand what your email marketing is expected to achieve. If the purpose of your email is to increase foot traffic or in-store sales, understand that opens and clicks will not be as relevant. If the goal is to build brand awareness with those on your list just getting into the inbox might achieve that goal.
Understand the available metrics– in some cases; this is an in-store loyalty program tied to an email list. In other cases, it might be counting the number of transactions or people who visit daily. Depending on the complexity of the in-store system, you might or might not be able to tie back each sale to a specific email address. Once you know which metrics are available to you, start building your plan.
How do you determine if an email was successful when the open and click data may or may not show you that? Know the average number of people that enter a store or restaurant on a given day. Is that number higher or lower on the days you send the email? If the number is consistently higher than you know, your email generated success. If your number is lower or at average, the challenge might be that your email list isn’t made up of enough interested customers. If that is the case will want to develop a strategy for ensuring that your customers are on your email list and segmenting those who aren’t customers.
There are, of course, easier ways to track foot traffic driven by email. You could provide an offer or discount code to use in-person only, but many businesses don’t want to give a discount, so that metric will not be possible while you could 100% tie it back to the email.
While the preference would always be able to say I sent an email on X date, and it generated X in clicks and X in revenue, some businesses can’t tie back to email metrics that easily. In those cases, you need to get creative to determine email marketing success.