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Tips for Tracking Email Marketing Campaign Metrics

Email campaigns are an inexpensive way of attracting traffic to your site and getting a message out to a group of people in one shot.

I’ve been working in the online email marketing world since 2007. At first I started out designing HTML custom email templates for Lyris. Then I started working on the Professional Services team deploying emails for full service clients using Lyris HQ and EmailLabs. Then I was building custom made HTML email campaigns that could be reused and populated with new content every time the newsletter was needed.

Then I worked for Autoguide and spent a lot of time sending out content based emails to large subscriber lists ranging from 3000, 50,000 to 250,000. These emails I sent out on a daily basis were running numbers as large as 1.2 and 1.3 million in total over a month! And now I send out emails for Actually’s clients  using MailChimp and we watch the reporting carefully. So I’ve compiled a few tips to track email marketing metrics for you.

Tip # 1: Campaign Tags

Software like MailChimp makes life easier for you and automatically generates campaign tagged links, so this isn’t much of anything Actually (or your company)  has to worry about. But for those of you not using software like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and VerticalResponse you’ll need to pay attention to this tip about campaign tagging.

Since we know that Google is pretty awesome, you’ll find this resource to generate URLs for you email campaigns. And since we’re pretty awesome, I’m sourcing that link for you here.

You’ll always need to fill in Campaign Source, Campaign Medium and Campaign. The rest of the fields are just extra, which pertain to the email campaign you’re sending out that day. We’ll get into details of developing your custom campaign email URLs for Google Analytics another day.

Tip # 2: Bounced, Unsubcribers and Complaints

This type of reporting is pretty important. Bounced emails are especially important because they deem you as good or bad to ISP’s. It’s pretty much ideal to see a 0 bounced rate but with huge subscriber lists that can be virtually impossible since you’re not connecting with these people on a daily basis. The best way to keep your list clean is to engage with subscribers on a regular basis. Sending an email out at least once a month is a good idea.

Reviewing the report from unsubscribers can be a bit sad and bring on lots of emotional flashbacks of rejection from old high-school days. But, the good news is, they mean nothing really. In fact, I’m going to spin a positive light on an unsubscribe here. It means the subscriber was considerate enough to take the time to unsubscribe. They didn’t want to hurt your reputation (unfortunately, they couldn’t save your feelings) and wanted to simply say goodbye, but they did it the right way without getting angry and marking you a spam.

Getting marked as spam brings us to complaints – this is really what complaints means. A subscriber hit the junk or spam email in their email client, Gmail, Outlook Express, Apple Mail – whatever it may be.

Tip # 3: Clicks, Open and Unopened Rates

Clicks, opens and unopened rates is the funnest part of email reporting. It’s when you get to spy on subscribers and see how engaged they are – which can be fascinating!

Clicks are when the subscriber has engaged with the email campaign. Meaning, they’ve taken the time to make a click on a HTML link, image, logo, banner, or another type of graphic to find more information. It’s best to put together an email in this way, with a ‘call-to-action’, asking the user to perform an action.

Open rates are reporting who’s viewed your email from your subscriber list and who has viewed your email. Some software, such as MailChimp will display the number of opens. For many individuals, this will display a number one or two. Don’t get too excited with seeing two reported beside an email address – this typically is because a subscriber has seen the email on their computer as well as their smartphone. But get flattered if you’re seeing subscribers viewing the email three, four, five and twenty times.

You’ll also have to pay attention to the two  different open rate types. There’s total opens, which adds up all the opens from every subscriber, to the unique opens, which measures the number of recipients who opened your email.

Unopened rates are sort of like unsubscribes. You might start to feel rejected again ‘cause your email campaign wasn’t viewed by those subscribers. Although, you shouldn’t hold it against them because sometimes the open vs. unopened rates reporting can be skewed when it comes to collecting and calculating data.

Emails are opened and tracked by an embedded and transparent 1 pixel gif in the email campaign. If a subscriber has enabled images on HTML email’s then data from your email campaign can be collected and reported to the email software you’ve deployed the email with. But if you’re email isn’t read, sometimes it can be as simple as the user not enabling images to display, which in turn skews the reporting.

There’s quite a bit of logic behind email marketing – both interesting, fascinating and time consuming. We know you’re busy so that’s why we’re here to help.

But, if you’re up for the challenge, some things to consider when viewing reporting for unopened rate are:

  1. Do subscribers have images enabled?
  2. What is default on mobile devices?
  3. If the images are disabled, is your content embedded in the images or have you included it in the HTML portion of the email?
  4. Are your users viewing the email in the inbox preview mode?
  5. Can can you factor click-thru rates and report on engagement and open rates this way?

Do you have any additional tips for us on tracking email marketing campaigns? Do you have images enabled for HTML emails in your email software? Leave a comments below!

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