Want to boost your email marketing? Improve your reporting.

Want to boost your email marketing? Improve your reporting.
January 12, 2021 cwiedemann

Ever since web marketing began, the industry has been touting how everything is measurable. At the same time, marketers have been complaining that the right metrics are not always measured correctly, or even available.  This problem still holds true for many email marketing programs today.  


The limitations of standard email marketing reports

Like a lot of marketers, you’re probably pouring over your campaign results to check on the latest open and click rate, and wondering which elements to test to improve results.  But when was the last time you also looked over your subscriber response behavior over time?  That’s where most reporting falls short.  It’s also where there’s the greatest opportunity to improve the results of your email marketing. That’s because every email subscriber represents a contact to a specific customer and they experience your brand as a series of interactions and a chain of emails.

The most common email campaign reporting dutifully reports how many were sent, opened, clicked, bounced and unsubscribed.  You can see what links received more clicks than another and can run A/B tests on subject lines, etc.  All of this is important and good for measuring performance.  But the basic email reporting that’s available today misses one key element: a longitudinal look at subscriber behavior. 


What subscriber behavior can reveal

It’s time to change our perspective and not just look vertically at reporting for one email campaign, but also to measure how emails are performing over time.  This helps to answer questions such as:  

  • How many subscribers have not opened one of your emails in the last few months  
  • Who opens emails more often or always
  • Which emails do certain people open and click on over other email messages
  • Who clicks regularly but doesn’t convert  

To really know what’s going on, you need to know these subscriber-centric answers.  The good news is that the data is already available with most email service providers; it’s just not organized in an actionable way.


The deliverability risk

If you’re not measuring your email subscribers’ behavior over time, you not only risk losing their attention or seeing engagement decline, you may also experience seriously detrimental effects toyour email deliverability.  Enough unresponsive email addresses on your file will cause the majority of your emails sent to Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and other free, web-based platforms to end up in the spam folder or not get delivered at all.  Therefore, ignoring the responsiveness of your file can also hurt your ability to communicate with the people who want to hear from you the most.

To remedy these issues, first see what types of behavioral reports or queries are available through your email service provider.  Some may not have reports that measure behavior this way but may offer options to query your database so you can build your own report.  Other email service providers don’t have query tools, so building a report becomes a more tedious, manual process.  Some of the enterprise email service providers have such engagement reports you can easily start using.  


Subscriber health reporting

Data analysts would call this “longitudinal reporting,” one that measures the impact over time.  Think of it as “subscriber health reporting.”  

One classic method for studying this is to apply a Recency Frequency Monetary (RFM) model to email behavior.  This simple model provides a snapshot of how many emails are dormant, how many are active, and your file health – how many are active, engaged, and converting. It has issues in terms of predicting future behavior but can be a good starting point.

There are other new methods for reporting and managing subscribers now that AI and predictive modeling software are more readily available.  These enable us to better determine what people are interested in and predict how they might react to new content over time.  

Once you start to think about your email program this way, you’ll start to learn more about what motivates your subscribers and keeps them engaged.  It’s time to get closer with your subscribers and deliver more of what they want and move towards better email marketing results.  Are you ready to make the pivot and think longitudinally?  Contact us to see how we can help.