Measurement Magic - It's Easy!
Measurement is the key to really successful email marketing and it’s much easier than you think, says Tink Taylor, dotMailer’s Business Development Director and a member of the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Marketing Council.
After many years in the email marketing industry, I am still amazed at just how many marketers continue to under-use widely-available tools that can generate fantastic results, with hardly any extra effort.
I can only conclude that the majority of marketers have not yet discovered just how easy it is to use measurement techniques to fine-tune their email marketing campaigns.
And dare I say it, it can also be a lot of fun!
By starting with the basics, I hope to convince you that by building an element of real-time measurement into every email campaign, you will quickly become an email marketing expert well-equipped to achieve results way beyond your previous expectations.
Along the way I will show how to use readily-available technology to really get creative with your campaigns – without the need to engage your IT department or even invest in web design or expensive web analytics solutions (although all of these options can add value to your email marketing campaign and I would not necessarily discourage you from considering them).
However, to keep it simple for the purposes of this guide, most of the tactics I will cover can be easily implemented from your desk-top!
Understand the fundamental principle of email design
Sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many brands invest considerable resources in developing email designs that just don’t work!
Either because they are rejected as spam by email servers, or because they fail to render correctly so they don’t look as they are supposed to, depending on the email clients used by your customers.
Since success or failure in both of these areas will be critical to the measurement of your campaign, it is worth reminding you of a fundamental fact of life for email marketing – the optimum type of HTML code to use within an HTML email is very different from that needed for a successful web site.
If you want to be sure that your emails get through the spam filters and render perfectly for every customer, ask your Email Service Provider (ESP) to design a template for you or consider using the free templates provided by your ESP.
These will have been optimised by experts to help increase deliverability rates and render correctly across the most widely-used email clients.
You will find that by using these templates and the editing tools that come with them, you can create a really effective email in a surprisingly short time span.
Find out what’s working and experiment!
The beauty of email is its ability to provide a wealth of real-time campaign data, so you can quickly discover what’s working and, equally importantly, not working.
The basic measurement criteria, which should not be ignored, are deliverability, open rates and click through rates.
Look at doing some split testing, by sending slight variations on your email to different customer groups.
For example you might want to test what happens if the sender’s name changes from male to female, or change the subject header, or time that you send the email.
Your real-time campaign data can instantly show you how this affects the results that you achieve.
This approach will help you to fine-tune campaigns to get the best results over time.
Use links to their full potential
Apologies again if I seem to be stating the obvious, but many brands still overlook the importance of links.
If used properly, link tracking is one of the most fundamental – and powerful – benefits of email marketing.
And an email with no links is almost always a wasted opportunity.
A good email marketing system will allow you to insert links with a couple of clicks.
Your campaign report will then show you how many recipients clicked on each link and who they were.
The results can be surprising.
Use them to help you develop targeted follow-up activity based on the preferences of customer groups and you are well on the way to using behavioural profiling.
How many links should you include?
The optimum number will vary depending on your business and the objectives of your email campaign.
Again, experiment. If customers are clicking through the last link in your email , you have probably got the number about right, or could afford to add more.
Obviously you don’t want to confuse the recipient, but remember each link clicked gives you a small amount of additional information about your customers to inform future campaigns.
Remember too that the first link in every email is usually the one that receives the most clicks, so put your key message at the top.
Links also give you the opportunity to track the customer journey once they reach your web site.