Monday, September 14, 2009

Email Marketing Metrics You Should be Tracking

If you weren’t aware, Canada (Vancouver specifically) will be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. I was inspired to write this post by a group of brave Canadian ski jumpers that are have been denied permission to compete in the upcoming games. You may be saying – wait a minute, ski jumping is an Olympic event so what’s the problem? The “problem” is that these image athletes are women and the IOC has not sanctioned women’s ski jumping as an official event making it the only Winter Olympics activity that does not allow women to compete in. We’ll come back to this story – let’s focus back on email marketing.

Sometimes it’s What’s Missing That Counts

I was reading MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Email Marketing Benchmarking Guide looking for useful metrics and tips. I found some extremely interesting data that I will discuss in future posts but what interested me more was what I believe is missing based on what I discuss with my customers on a day to day basis. The goal of this post is not to criticize the great work by the MarketingSherpa folks but rather to provide feedback and start a discussion on the types of benchmarks that should be included in future reports – especially when we’re talking about b2b marketing.

Email Metrics That Need Benchmarks

Here is a list of the email metrics that I would like to see in future MarketingSherpa Email Benchmark reports:

  • Automated Email Metrics. I’m not referring to autoresponder emails but rather to campaigns that contain two or more automated emails. These emails should be sent using a marketing automation system like Eloqua. The goal is to demonstrate that key email metrics such as opens, click-throughs and conversions are much higher while unsubscribes are much lower using an automated program such as lead nurturing when compared to manual email sends (“one offs”). It would be very useful to B2B marketers to have benchmarks to track if their automated campaigns are trending upwards or downwards year after year.

    In addition, at a time when marketers need to do more with less, automated email campaigns allow marketers to reach many more recipients with a fraction of the effort. Therefore another metric may be the number of emails sent using automated campaigns and/or the number of programs executed. Considering that a recent Aberdeen Research report clearly demonstrated that best in class companies are finding lead nurturing successful, adding in these types of metrics should be a no-brainer.

    Once we start down this path we can create many different categories as there are a number of different types of automated campaigns such as re-engagement campaigns, renewal programs, trial programs, and welcome campaigns.

  • How Email Contributes Further Down the Sales/Marketing Funnel. A common theme in 2009 is that marketers need to prove the value of their marketing spend in even greater detail. Therefore email opens as an example is not good enough. What we need to see is metrics such as the number of marketing touches (including email) that lead to an opportunity and/or closed deal. This data needs to go beyond the communications that marketing is sending but should combine the efforts from marketing AND sales.

    I know that you're thinking this is not easy to do and I agree with you but today’s marketing automation systems track all of the “digital body language” associated to a customer or prospect and display this data in ROI reports. Campaign Analysis and ReportingIt’s this type of data that will allow marketers to decide which messages are working and which aren’t and to clearly demonstrate the value that marketing is contributing to the organization.

  • Database Accuracy Metrics. The cleaner your database, the better your marketing results will be – this is fairly obvious. However, do we really talk about this and benchmark this data enough so that marketers perceive this as a high priority? Marketers need to go beyond just generating new subscribers but also to ensure that they maximize the investment of these new contacts by ensuring that the profile for this contact is accurate and contains the necessary information for further segmentation. It’s been proven that contacts with accurate and complete information allow for better segmentation and personalization for email campaigns which increases response. I would like to see metrics that include the percentage completeness of contacts for key contact fields and the resulting email response metrics for campaigns that involve data that has been cleansed.

  • Multi-channel Metrics. The success of email marketing campaigns should no longer be looked at in isolation. In fact email marketing should no longer be looked at in isolation. Successful marketers are combining email with other channels such as SMS, direct mail, social media, tele-prospecting and recorded voice to maximize its effect.

    It would be very helpful to see which channels combined with email were the most successful in certain situations. For example, should B2B marketers combine email and SMS messages for event reminders or is email sufficient? Did a combined direct mail and email campaign really lift response for a new product launch or was email sufficient? Marketers are looking for benchmark data to help them make decisions on how to maximize their marketing dollars and these types of metrics could really help.

With that said, MarketingSherpa may already be compiling these metrics in other reports but I did not see them in the recent email benchmarking report and wanted to ensure that they’re aware of these key items. I would love to hear from you if you feel these items should be included in future reports and if there may be other metrics that may be missing. And oh yeah, go sign the petition over at to allow these courageous ski jumpers to fulfill their dream of competing in the Olympics in an event that is an obvious omission.

Chad H
Follow me on Twitter: @chadhorenfeldt

PS: Become a fan of my new son Matthew on his Facebook fan page.




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