Email Marketing: Ignore At Your Own Risk

Social media might still be the trendy kid on the block, but email marketing is still 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.

In other words, ignore your email marketing (and your email metrics) at your own risk.

That being said, with so much information out there about email marketing best practices, where do you start?

1) Provide Value

The key to any good email marketing strategy is to provide value in every email you send.

In general, the emails you’re sending fall under one of three categories:

  • Educational: These are the emails where you’re – well, you guessed it – educating people. You’re telling them more about your products, company, or community, or how to best use your products for successful results.
  • Transactional: These are the emails (usually automated) that are a simple “Thanks for signing up to the newsletter!” or “Thank you for your purchase.”
  • Marketing/advertising: These emails are essentially a sales pitch for a product, a promotion, or a discount.

No matter what type of email you’re sending, your number one goal should always be to provide value. Providing value is what turns prospects into customers and customers into repeat customers.

You also want to experiment with different blends for your audience – it can’t all be 50% off coupons. You need to build a relationship with your email list, and educational emails are the best way to do that. Of course, you also need to make money, so test out different mixes of educational, transactional, and marketing emails to see what keeps people engaged and buying.

2) Pay Close Attention to Two Key Metrics

The two most important email metrics are engagement rate and conversion rate. Typically, an engagement rate would include open rates and click rates, and a conversion rate is measured as the number of people who purchase based on a particular email campaign.

Engagement always comes first in the process – no engagement means no conversions.

3) Know How to Read the Metrics

First, be sure you have a “clean” list. Sometimes businesses will have a thousand or more emails addresses that are no longer active and that can certainly throw off your metrics. You can fix this by regularly cleaning and segmenting your list and removing people that aren’t reading or responding to your emails.

Once you have a clean list, you should expect to see open rates in the 30-50% range.

However, that varies by industry – MailChimp and ConstantContact, two popular email providers, have compiled a list of average open and click through rates across industries that can provide more details on what to expect for your specific list.

When it comes to conversion rates, a “one size fits all” conversion rate is pretty useless. There are two things to consider here:

  1. You need to figure out the baseline for your business and set growth goals based on that – not someone else’s baseline. That said, here’s an article to give you an idea of conversion rates across industries and devices as a starting point until you have your own baseline to go off of.
  2. Conversion rates are also going to vary based on the type of email you’re sending out – more on that below…

4) Context is Everything

The problem with how most people view metrics is that they don’t apply context. If you consider the types of emails listed above, an educational email obviously isn’t going to result in as many purchases as a marketing email – so you should measure engagement and conversions differently.

For example:
With an educational email, you might measure engagement as the time they spend on the site after reading the email, and conversions would be people sharing the email or your other content mentioned in the email.

With a promotional email including a coupon, engagement rates could be opening it, clicking it, or sharing the promotion on social media, and the conversion rate would be actually using the coupon at check out.

While it may seem a little intimidating at first, start measuring your email results and working on improving them. We promise, it will be well worth your time!


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