The true indicator of successful e-marketing

email button on keyboard

Did you know that an open rate of 40 percent on your email marketing campaign is something to be envied? Or that a click-through rate of 2-3 percent is also something to be congratulated? I’ve had clients lament to me that they were concerned their subscribers weren’t interested anymore if their open rate was just 35 percent. Or that their material mustn’t be compelling enough if their click-through rate was just 2 percent. Even I – a copywriter – have fallen victim to feeling sorry for myself if the figures seem low.

But recently I attended the Email Marketing Summit Australia (EMSA) event and was surprised to learn that even some of Australia’s largest businesses including Optus and MYOB don’t have massively impressive open and click-through rates. But rather than feel discouraged, I experienced a sense of satisfying validation on the kinds of elements I have understood – and been preaching – for some time.

Open and click-through rates are great to guide you in improving your own email marketing campaigns’ performance results but it’s best to avoid comparing your own with the statistics available from your campaign platforms. Whether you use Aweber, Vision6, Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor, you have no way of knowing how well planned or effective other businesses’ campaigns are, so why would you benchmark yours against such unknown values?

Industry-specific open rates

As your email marketing platform will tell you, there are recorded open rate averages for specific industries, and of course, these figures change – upward or downward – as averages do. It can be very reassuring to know that your email campaign statistics are on par with your industry’s average but in reality, isn’t it better to set and maintain your very own benchmark? As with school results, a few high performers can raise a school’s average, just as a handful of very low performers can cause it to drop.

Aim for quality not quantity

Who cares if you have five thousand people on your database if most of them signed up on a whim and don’t really have any interest in what you want to tell them? Culling your database by sending quarterly or biannual opt-in/opt-out campaigns is excellent housekeeping for your lists.

Win/win for you and your subscribers

What should matter the most to you, the campaign sender, is return on investment. What matters the most to your subscribers is that they get what they signed up for, and that they are welcome to read it on their terms; when convenient and without anything expected of them by you.

For you, the business owner, what does an open rate matter if a healthy ROI is achieved? For instance, what if you send your campaign to 500 people and just three subscribers open and click through? That’s a 0.6 percent open rate and a 0.6 percent click-through rate. But if they all convert, it could be considered a hugely successful campaign! Obviously it depends on what you’re selling (product or service), the margin and the money or time you’ve invested in composing and sending your campaign.

Supposing you sell a $1,000 product with a margin of $450 and you sold three as a direct result of your email marketing. And supposing you spent $400 on the campaign itself. Your ROI is $950. Even if only those three people who opened your email purchased, you would still have achieved ROI of 335 percent.

So I say, if you’re keen to measure your campaign outcomes in statistics and percentages, then go for the ones that give a true and tangible indication of success.

Other valuable objectives

Meanwhile, there are a range of other reasons why email campaigns are good for business, and these don’t rely on open or click-through rates as success indicators either:

  • Staying in touch with your subscribers keeps your business top of mind until they are ready to buy, enquire, book or switch. This is true even if they don’t read every email.
  • Even though most subscribers will not open every single email and some will only open them once in a blue moon, it might be the campaign they do open that results in a conversion.
  • Email campaigns are not just marketing tools but also a great way to keep your subscribers informed of important developments, announcements or changes to the way you do business. The subject line will compel them to open if they deem it important to their needs.

Paying too much attention to open and click-through rates – particularly in comparison to other businesses – can result in unconstructive disappointment. Never consider these rates on a campaign by campaign basis but instead over a longer period. That way you can compare them by performance over time and gauge what can be replicated to achieve better results.

Next time you run an email campaign, focus more on your ROI and how you can improve that in ensuing campaigns.

  • http://www.vetshopaustralia.com.au Steven P

    Gina, I agree that you should never get discouraged with opening rates of 30-40% as opening rates are effected by numerous external factors but I think a 2% click through rate is way too low and at http://www.vetshopaustralia.com.au we would never settle for that. If we got that figure that means 98% of people who read our newsletter did not find it interesting enough to click through!

    • http://www.wordmistress.com.au Gina Lofaro aka the wordmistress

      Hi Steven

      Different audiences and different market sectors will experience far higher click-through rates than others. For your business, your audience is devoted pet lovers who are on the lookout for ways to save – and spend – money on their pets. For other businesses, email marketing campaigns serve different functions and so the click-through rate will be lower.

      Of course, experimenting with different formats, content and calls to action can bring about different results and it’s always a good idea to test and re-test. I’m so glad your click-through rates are higher and that they serve your business so well. I’d also love to know what kind of conversion rate you have. Thanks for your response and by all means, please contact me if you’d like to discuss further, purely out of interest.