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5 blunders that curb marketing email performance

Posted by Bridget Fair on October 16, 2013

Here is a surprising fact: 17% of email marketers don’t track, report or analyze their email marketing metrics for their campaign deployments.1 It’s hard to believe that almost 1 in 5 marketers do not even review basic metrics, such as opens or clicks! Fortunately, 83% of marketers are (at the bare minimum) doing something to gauge email performance. But is it really enough? Frequently the answer to this question is “no.” And here’s why.

The 83% is primarily made up of marketers that pull basic email reports with standard key performance indicators (KPIs) but are overlooking a number of tracking opportunities that would enhance their reporting with more robust behavioral information. In addition, many marketers struggle with analyzing email reports and pinpointing opportunities to improve performance. Even more marketers lack a process to enhance emails with insights and findings from their analysis.

If you are one of the many marketers striving to improve your email performance but finding it challenging to make any significant progress, then you may be a victim of one of these common blunders.

1. Overlooking where email openers click

Marketers commonly use click-through rates and click-to-open rates as KPIs to measure email engagement. However, these KPIs are rarely dissected to determine the contribution of each email link to total clicks.

Picture2Most emails contain numerous links. Your emails likely contain links to FAQ pages, demos, enrollment pages or a customer support page. Even if you’re only driving recipients to one destination, your email should provide multiple opportunities to click through to that page. Do you know how many people are clicking on each of these individual links? If not, you are missing data that can shed a light on the preferences of your email subscribers. Understanding these preferences is vital to the design and messaging of successful emails that are tailored for your audience.

Here’s an example. Jacobs & Clevenger recently pulled a click tracking report for an email with four access points to an enrollment landing page: a URL hyperlink, two hyperlinks stating a call-to-action (e.g., Sign up now) and a call-to-action button. We were surprised to find that the majority of email viewers preferred to click the URL hyperlink to access the form. Armed with that information, we decided to add a second URL hyperlink with more prominent placement in the email to test the impact on click rates.

2. Ignoring how people view your emails

Email open rate is a common KPI. But knowing what device or email platform your recipients use to open and view your emails is also very important. Why is that?

It is important because it will help you to develop more user-friendly emails. Emails render vastly different across platforms, browsers and devices. Almost every element of an email looks different depending on how you access it: subject line, email layout, copy formatting, image sizes, alt tags, etc.

This is why it is so important to know how your email recipients view your emails. For example, if you know that 60% of your opens occur on a mobile device, then it makes sense to invest in responsive emails that are optimized for mobile viewing. If you find that a significant number of your recipients use Gmail, you may consider testing a clickable call-to-action button in your subject line. And if the majority of your email openers are on email platforms that support stylized alt tags, you may consider upgrading your alt tags to improve “images-off” email rendering.

bf 2At J&C, we utilize deliverability software to track how email recipients view emails. With these reports, we’ve been able to enhance our reporting by providing breakdowns of email opens by email platform and device—tablet, mobile or desktop. These insights into customer behavior and preferences have led many of our clients to determine that responsive, mobile-optimized emails are a necessity to ensure successful email marketing.

Remember that email is not static, like a printed piece. You must understand how your recipients view your emails to ensure you are providing a user-friendly, optimal experience.

3. Losing people post-click

Email marketing is an important piece of any successful multichannel marketing campaign. But don’t forget that your marketing campaign needs to be viewed holistically. Once email recipients click, they should not fall off the radar. You should be tracking the steps they take post-email.

One easy way to do this is by assigning each of your emails a unique tracking code. For example, a welcome email might have the tracking code “&WEL.” This tracking code can be inserted at the end of URLs within the welcome email. Then your welcome email clickers will be distinguished from other visitors to the same web page.

That means you can pull page view reports using the tracking code as a search term or filter. This allows you to monitor customer behavior post-email click so you can see how they behave on a landing page or which pages they visit on your website. This gives you further understanding of your audience’s interests, motivations, inhibitions and questions. Then you will have a holistic view of your customers and how your emails can better complement your multichannel campaign.

4. Postponing email updates and enhancements

Don’t forget that the point of tracking, reporting and analyzing is to improve your email performance. Schedule time at least once (if not twice) per year to update emails with enhancements based on your analytic findings.

It is important to avoid completely shutting down your email campaigns to make these necessary updates. At J&C, we utilize a development environment to program and QC email updates, and then we move approved emails to a production environment when they are ready to deploy. This way there are no gaps in our email communications.

Often it is best to stagger the update process by focusing on one email stream at a time. This is more manageable from a time investment standpoint and allows you to leverage design and copy enhancements from one email stream to the next.

Executing updates across your marketing email streams requires planning and coordination. Do not let the challenge of doing so cause you to postpone needed updates. Remember that when it comes to email marketing, the status quo is not sustainable. In the ever-changing world of email, standing still will only ensure you fall farther and farther behind.

5. Neglecting to update data

Most email marketers are limited by the quality, quantity and availability of data. However, even if you already have robust data at your fingertips, there may still be opportunities to expand that data to capture more information about customer preferences and behaviors.

Recently, we worked with a client to enhance our database with customer information regarding a new product offering. In order to deploy product awareness emails, we needed to know some basic information, e.g., who was or was not using the product. Without this information, we could not deploy an email campaign to non-users to drive product adoption.

So take a step back and look at your data and figure out what may be missing, and what information might help you to further enhance the relevancy of your emails.

If you are one of the 83% of marketers that is tracking, reporting or analyzing emails, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. But then take a moment to think about what you might not be doing. There are tools at your fingertips that can help you gain deeper insights into your email performance. It is important to implement these tools, take the time to assess your reports and implement the learnings from your analysis. Doing so is how you can ensure successful email marketing campaigns.

To learn more about successful email marketing, download our free ebook.
Four Modern Keys to Successful Email Marketing
1. “25 Interesting Email Marketing Statistics for 2013,” published by: Andrew Paul, 7/10/13.

Topics: Email Marketing

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