My childhood memories include a myriad of wisdom from my parents. My mom delivered these nuggets through dichos y refranes, the popular sayings and proverbs she learned as a child. My father imparted wisdom more directly, in plain Spanish, without much flourish. One of my favorites came to mind recently:
“Don’t bother comparing yourself to others. If you do, you’ll always find some who are worse than you and some who are better. Compare yourself against who you were, and make sure today’s version is better than yesterday’s.”
Now, you may be wondering what this formative instruction has to do with email marketing metrics. Hang in there, I’m about to get to that.
I was on the phone with a new client last week. We were reviewing the email marketing audit I had conducted on her previous campaigns. We began with the basic metrics: opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam complaints. When I paused for breath, her first question was, “What is a good number?” This is a common question clients ask. It is also a common question email marketers ask each other when we talk shop. But, seeking validation from external sources is perhaps the least helpful way to measure performance.
To Thine Own Self Be True
It is natural to want to know how we compare with others. Below are a few reasons why external benchmarks are of little use:
Seeking validation from external sources is perhaps the least helpful way to measure performance
Relevancy. Most data aggregations aren’t relevant to your industry or company. And, even if you’re looking at benchmarks for your industry, you’d be hard pressed to find data that accounts for the size of your company, the verticals on which you focus, the specific demographics of your target market, geographical differences, and much more.
Apples and oranges. Every brand manages their lists differently. Comparing metrics like open rates and click rates with other businesses or against industry averages is not comparing things equally. This can lead to erroneous perceptions as to your success, or lack thereof.
Complacency. External benchmarks worse than your own can lead to a false sense of accomplishment. When you compare your current performance to your own old numbers, you have a better sense of how your current efforts are performing. And, you have the always-present prompt to continue improving.
When looking at your metics, do as my father said, and focus on making “today’s version better than yesterday’s.”
Which Metrics Should I Review?
Now that you have a healthy perspective on metric comparisons, you’re likely wondering what metrics you should be focusing on. The internet is full of well-written articles on individual metrics, how to calculate them, and why they are important. However, it’s difficult to find a holistic approach—one which allows us to see email metrics from all vantage points.
Chad White from Litmus organizes email marketing metrics in a very helpful way. His method allows us to see which metrics impact the various stakeholders inside a company and gives us granularity, as well as overall views. This handy matrix lets you see how he’s organized things.
Email and Business Goals
Chad first segregates goals into “email-centric” and “business-centric” goals. Email-centric metrics like opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam complaints helps us analyze and improve:
External benchmarks worse than your own can lead to a false sense of accomplishment
Email channel health
Business-centric metrics like sales conversions, revenue per subscriber, return on investment, and average order size all point to the impact email marketing is making on your customers’ lifetime value and the company’s bottom line.
Campaign, Channel, and Customer Level Metrics
Inside these two large groups, metrics are organized in smaller components:
Campaign level. As the name indicates, these statistics give you information on the health and financial impact of a given campaign.
Channel level. These metrics tell you how email marketing, as one of your many marketing channels, is performing.
Customer level. The most important metrics of all, customer-level metrics look at the cumulative impact of email marketing on your subscribers and customers. This is my favorite section, as it shows us not only what keeps subscribers and customers engaged and ready to buy, but also puts the emphasis on pursuing long-term benefits.
It’s difficult to find a holistic approach—one which allows us to see email metrics from all vantage points
For a comprehensive view on all these metrics, visit this Rejoiner article.
Putting It All Together
When building reports to showcase the impact of email marketing on the bottom line, start with business-centric metrics (which measure financial impact) and drill down to email-centric numbers (which measure health). This way you can see the effect you’re having and can review the minutiae to work on improvements.