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Beyond the Click: Best Practices for Measuring Email Marketing Success

Volume 3, Issue 12 - December, 2013

By Nehal Patel, Account Manager, Visual IQ

Despite the widespread use of email, quantifying its impact is still perplexing for many marketers. Most often, the value of email is determined by opens and clicks. However, if an email influences a prospective customer to later search for and make a purchase, shouldn’t it be considered a success and be given some of the credit?

Just because a consumer saw an email in their inbox but didn’t open or click it doesn’t mean it wasn’t influential in terms of building awareness and consideration. Taking email beyond opens and clicks to understanding its true value means you need visibility into the impact that email has on other marketing channels and on the success of your overall marketing mix.

Uncovering Email’s Hidden Power

A recent study published by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) illustrates the value of email beyond the click, uncovering that email marketing can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. The study, conducted over an 11-month period, compared average daily revenue from all marketing channels on days when emails were sent, to average daily revenue from all marketing channels on days on which no emails were sent. If email didn’t influence (or wasn’t influenced by) other marketing channels, the average daily revenue would be the same. However, the study showed an average revenue increase of 21.5% on days with email.

Avoid Overlooking & Undervaluing

So how can you make sure email gets the true credit it deserves? Advanced attribution can provide you with insight not only into how your email campaigns have historically performed individually, but also their ROI efficacy in relation to other online channels, such as search and display, and even offline channels such as television and print. Here are a few important practices to follow when putting attribution to work for your email campaigns:

  1. Define your objectives. Attribution can help to answer many marketing questions, so it’s essential to understand what’s important to you and your particular business KPIs so you can define and measure your email marketing goals accordingly. For instance, do you want your email program to generate brand impressions and influence purchase decisions, or do you want it to directly generate new leads and sales?
  2. Stop thinking in silos. Most marketers recognize that today’s consumers are jumping from one channel to another to browse and buy, so to silo the measurement of email marketing effectiveness would mean missing the influence that’s exerted between these channels. Attribution not only gives you a more precise measurement of how your email campaigns performed individually, but also within the context of your multi-channel ecosystem, so you can easily identify opportunities for optimization both within individual email campaigns and across your entire marketing mix.
  3. Find the right sequence. Rudimentary metrics like opens and clicks fail to capture the whole picture. Email isn’t always the “closer” in the consumer conversion funnel — it can also be an “opener” or “advancer” within that process. Advanced attribution enables marketers to not only understand the function that email plays in the sales funnel, but in which sequence emails and other tactics should be executed in order to maximize performance.
  4. Test early and often. For email to have its intended impact requires combining effective creative with intelligent messaging. Fortunately, email marketing provides the opportunity to test a wide range of creative and messaging variants relatively inexpensively. The multi-dimensional nature of the analysis that attribution provides — and the granular nature of the insights it delivers — enable you to easily identify which variations of messaging, call to action, offer, creative, etc., will have the greatest impact toward your specific ecosystem-wide goals.

For more successful email marketing, it’s time to move away from flawed metrics like opens and clicks. With advanced attribution, you benefit from actionable insights that not only maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing programs, but your overall marketing mix.

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