How Do You Measure Success?

Imagine this: You’ve just sent out a large email promotion and are reading your preliminary results. Looks like the campaign will ultimately garner a 10 percent response (click-through) rate. Think that’s cause for celebration? Think again, because perhaps it’s not.

A lot of folks have this idea in their heads about what email marketing success is supposed to be, based on previous click-through industry averages of 5 to 15 percent.

But things aren’t always what they seem.

For example, what about those campaigns that are pulling in numbers that, at first glance, seem to indicate a failed promotion — numbers in the 0.5 percent or even 0.25 percent or less range? How are campaigns such as these justified in rolling out again and again?

The answer is relatively simple… and yet not. It’s not the number in and of itself that determines a winning campaign but whether or not that number meets or exceeds the initial goals and expectations.

In other words, your campaign’s success is relative to its offer.

Here’s an example to illustrate my point. Say you’re marketing by email a free newsletter on business finance and planning. The goal is to build a qualified list of email prospects to whom you will attempt to sell, down the road, your $500 business-planning software package.

You’ve written a strong message and rented a solid opt-in list of 100,000 recipients. It wouldn’t be unheard of for you to get a 10 percent or higher response. After all, your prospects are signing up for something that requires little or nothing of them in time, information, or money.

So assuming you did get that 10 percent by the time the campaign was said and done, you’d have a brand-new list of 10,000 people ready and willing to hear your future offers. Not bad.

Now turn the tables around and pretend you’re marketing that same software; only this time you’ve changed the focus of your campaign. You’ve decided to skip the free newsletter and instead promote the end ($500) product directly. Everything else but the offer remains the same: 100,000 recipients, great copy, same type of list. Because it’s a rather high dollar offer, however, when your promotion goes out, your response rate (again: click-through) plummets to 0.25 percent.

Before you start singing the blues, take a look at the numbers. A quarter percent of 100,000 is 250 people; yet these 250 people have actually paid up. And at $500 a pop, that’s not chump change, that’s $125,000. (Not to mention the fact that since your cost for items such as list and creative totals less than $50,000, it turns out you’ve made a pretty decent profit.)

With that in mind, one of the most effective ways, in my opinion, to set up a campaign for easy measurability is to define at the outset what your bottom-line goals are. Is it more important or more potentially profitable for you to build a solid list of unpaid leads, or do your company’s expenses require cash up front?

If you have a paid offer, how much of a profit, if any, do you need in order to call the campaign a success? Perhaps your company’s mandate is to build a house file with solid lifetime value potential, so to bring in new customers at a breakeven — or even at a loss — would be okay. Conversely, you may need to profit from day one.

And if you’re planning a lead generation offer, how many folks do you need to build on your list over the next three months… six months… one year? What is that magic number that will both justify any initial expenses while making any future marketing efforts worthwhile?

Once you’ve determined your initial goals, it’s time to consider the best type of offer to help meet them. For lead generation offers, do you create a free newsletter or report? Some other type of giveaway? A contest? And, if you go the paid route, which of your products or services do you offer? And at what price — with a discount or not?

Having a solid plan of attack from the beginning will make it easier when it comes time to determine your campaign’s effectiveness. Just remember not to get too caught up in the actual numbers, but instead focus on how they relate to YOUR bigger picture.

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