April 7, 2009

Even More Data! Jump On It! (Part 3)

by Kristen Gregory, Manager of Strategic Services at Bronto Software

I Love DataWe've already explored some of the more obvious metrics in email marketing and how to tweak your practices for better results in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Jump on It! series.

This last installment will cover some other metrics that tend to get overlooked when formulating an email marketing strategy.

% Contacts By Domain:

Knowing which domains (Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail, etc) make up the majority of your file is critical. First, it helps with design as each ISP may render an email differently and this way, you can focus your efforts on the primary ISPs that display your mail. Second, it’s helpful to know which ISPs to monitor if there are any deliverability issues. Finally, it helps to understand whether or not changes in email clients, like the new ability to view YouTube videos in Gmail, will really make a difference.

The bottom line: Use domain information to improve design and to help monitor deliverability.

Performance By List or Segment:

Hopefully, your email campaigns are targeted and not simply "spray-and-pray." Breaking down your list into different audiences and analyzing the metrics for those lists is imperative as those audiences should be marketed to differently.

For example, if segment A is interacting with the emails (opens, clicks, conversions), they are more likely to respond positively to an increase in email frequency as they have already demonstrated interested in the content. However, be careful to not overmail as this could lead to negative results. If segment B is not as responsive, sending less frequently and/or tweaking the content and subject line to be more relevant is advised. You may also end up re-evaluating your current segments and decide to slice and dice differently depending on your findings.

The bottom line: If you have data on how different parts of your database perform, use that to actually treat them differently!

Performance By Message Type:

Can you group results for similar messages? For example, let's say your monthly email calendar includes one newsletter, two simple-format sales emails and one promotion that features many products. By grouping these types of messages in a campaign or reporting group, you can uncover some interesting data. It may be that the multi-feature promotion email results in twice the click throughs and higher conversions compared to the other formats. By monitoring how each format pulls, it becomes easier to tweak the mix accordingly to maximize interest, interaction and end results.

The bottom line: Report on email metrics by message/campaign type and leverage that data to your subscriber's advantage.

Performance By Hour or Day:

By paying attention to the days and times that contacts are opening, clicking and/or converting on your email, you can make adjustments for better results. For example, if the majority of opens are after 6 pm, yet your delivery time is 8 am, it may make sense to send later in the day. This means that emails will be closer to the top of the inbox when that person is ready to read. The data could also reveal that your audience reads your emails on the weekends rather than weekdays. The bottom line: By consistently testing and searching for the best time and day to send, you can increase your average open/click-through/conversion rates.

# of Non-engaged contacts (inactives):

This is an important metric to watch and is a reflection of your overall message relevance. If this number is increasing, think about whether or not you're truly serving your contacts and delivering what is expected. Think about how/why people are signing up as there could be a disconnect there! Maybe your messaging is in a rut.  If you feel that you've done all you can to re-spark interest with no luck, it's time to clean your list of the dead weight using these step-by-step tips.

The bottom line: Understand why folks are not engaging with your email. Know when to hold 'em. Know when to let them go.

Please share any additional thoughts you may have on the above data points.

What other metrics do you follow and suggest that others keep an eye on for success?

Kristen Gregory
Email Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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Kristen Gregory, Manager of Strategic Services at Bronto Software

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