You know the drill. Send out an email, check the opens, clicks, and conversions, and determine if the mailing was a success or failure. E-commerce marketers repeat this drill so frequently, and have for so many years, that what these rates actually mean today can be easily overlooked.
Some folks will tell you to completely ignore these metrics when analyzing your email program. Please don’t take that advice. Let me explain the importance of these stats and why they are often underestimated and undervalued.
In the early days of email marketing, there wasn’t a whole lot you could measure. You could see send/receive data, along with some bounce details and a few post-send data points, such as open and click rates, that actually gave you some insight into how your emails were performing. In our not-so-distant past, you may have had the ability to collect some conversion results for your email. But until recently, marketers had to rely on this limited amount of data to shape their email channel and then transfer this data into other platforms, such as their e-commerce engine, to shape their larger e-commerce strategy.
Platforms are now relatively easy to integrate and the floodgates of data have been blown wide open. Call it “big data” or a “data deluge,” but even a basic email program is bursting with data points to analyze until your eyes glaze over. Perhaps it’s this barrage of data that has made the foundational metrics seem dated. The problem with taking this “out with the old” approach is that, at their core, these metrics are an excellent barometer for subscriber behavior. And, in case you haven’t noticed, subscriber behavior has changed quite a bit recently. Consumers want to seamlessly shop across multiple devices while moving between sites and stores. This has left many retailers struggling to catch up to the connected consumer.
Perhaps it’s not some new technology or bright and shiny piece of software that will give retailers a way to connect with today’s shoppers. Maybe the metrics that originally helped build the email channel will be the data points that point retailers in the right direction. Could it be possible that open, click, and conversion rates are the keys to connect retailers with today’s multi-device, cross-channel shopper?
Let’s re-examine the power that these pioneer metrics of the e-commerce world can offer today’s marketer.
1. Open Rates
You should first distinguish your unique openers from your total opens. One subscriber who opens your email equals one opener. If that same subscriber opens the message three times, you have one unique opener and three total opens. Pretty basic, right? That information has always been nice to know, but these days, you can use this data to explore consumer behavior and gains some insight into the multi-device habits of today’s shoppers.
A subscriber may first open your email on their laptop at work, then reopen at home on their tablet, and finally open it again on their phone while in your store. Most email service providers (ESPs) are able to report which devices are being used to open your emails, so why not dig into these rates to see how your openers are moving around? You’ll gain insight into how to reach these customers as they interact with your message across different devices. This could mean a greater investment in responsive design emails, incorporating larger, tap-friendly calls to action, including store information and tap-to-dial customer service phone numbers, or deep links to your mobile site or app. Rather than guessing how your shoppers are using devices to shop, get some data from this under-valued metric and make more informed decisions.
2. Click Rates
Similar to the open rate strategy, examine trends between unique clickers and total clicks to see if certain links or promotions spike with shoppers who use more than one device to interact with your message. Customer service information, store location details, or navigational elements may resonate with these shoppers in ways you hadn’t expected. Certain promotions may also have shoppers revisiting links. Barcodes that are meant to be scanned in a store, loyalty program information, or in-store pick-up information may be more important than you realize. Dedicating more real estate in the email could help subscribers find the information they need.
3. Conversion Rates
Conversion reporting used to be rather primitive. I’ll admit it was not the most accurate measure of actual sales in the early years of email marketing, and that may have unfairly damaged the metric’s reputation. While it’s likely you already consult your e-commerce platform for purchase-related data, you should also explore conversion results with your ESP. E-commerce platforms and ESP integrations are light years beyond where they used to be. The data is collected and reported in ways that help marketers build segments, trigger targeted messages, and leverage purchase data across channels to build better programs. Take the time to ask your e-commerce platform provider and ESP if there are ways you could access and use this data to boost engagement and sales.
While I don’t mean to undermine the power of using a zillion data points to measure the success of your program, I do know that it can quickly become daunting to make sense of it all. If you feel like your data is getting, well, too big, take a step back and revisit these email marketing classics to discover how they can help you reach your subscribers in a new way.
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