Thursday, September 06, 2007

Interpret the stats to improve results

When it comes to email marketing everyone's looking for definitive answers.

You know the kinds of questions I'm talking about. What sort of open rate should we get? What's an average click-through rate? If our unsubscribe rate is 2%, is that good?

Unfortunately, there are no absolutes. The answers are dependent on so many factors. Firstly you can seek out industry benchmarks from firms such as Marketin Sherpa or e-consultancy, which is a good starting point. You can even try carrying out your own research, either formally or just by asking around.

Next, look at your own campaign statistics over a period of time and establishing your own benchmarks. Then you can get down to interpreting what the numbers mean and using that information to improve results next time.

For example, if a campaign achieves a lower than average open rate, this probably means that:
  1. either the subject line was poor, or
  2. the email got filtered as spam and went to the junk folder, or
  3. the average age of the email addresses is going up

If a campaign achieves a lower than average click-through rate, this probably means that:

  1. either the offer wasn't enticing enough, or
  2. the creative (copy, design or both) wasn't strong enough, or
  3. (if combined with a high open rate) the subject line was misleading

You might then decide to go back to the testing stage, remembering to test one factor at a time in order to find out just what makes a difference.

Of course, there are many more stats on an typical report than just open and click through rates, and the principle applies to all. Establish your own benchmarks, interpret what the numbers actually mean, identify areas for improvement, tweak and test.

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