“It’s ok, we have good open and click through rates.”
Did your eyes roll a little when reading that line? How many times have you had a client say that to you when you asked about their email metrics? While helpful, these two metrics rarely give a well-rounded portrait of how subscribers are interacting with their emails (and if they are actually engaged at all!).
As part of Digital Agency Day, we hosted a live webinar that covered the “other metrics” that your team should be looking at to optimize emails for your clients.
Didn’t have a chance to make it to the webinar? No worries! We recorded the whole thing.
There were so many great questions during the webinar. We didn’t have a chance to get to them all, but have answered them all here on the blog. Have any additional questions? Leave them in the comments.
Why do opens and clicks only give a limited portrait of subscriber engagement?
While open and click rates are a great way to see what subject lines and preview text are getting the most opens, and what links are getting the most clicks, they don’t provide a deeper understanding of subscriber interactions. How long were they engaged with your client’s email? Did they forward it to anyone? Opens and clicks lack data like these insights.
What other metrics should we look at when building email campaigns for our clients?
Engagement rates (or time spent on email)
Engagement time is incredibly important to review in parallel to your client’s open rates. Are your client’s subscribers even reading their emails, or simply glancing and deleting them?
In the webinar, I gave the example of why I am a “marketer’s worst nightmare.” I am one of those dreaded folks who opens an email to get it out of their open count on their mobile device, but barely bothers to actually read the mailing. And, I am not the only subscriber to do this! While it counts as an open, I’m not actually engaging with the email at all.
By using time on spent on email, you can understand the divide between the real “Readers,” “Skim Readers,” and “Glance and Deleters” (this is how we actually break it down in Litmus Email Analytics).
With this data in hand you can send content-rich newsletters to your clients most engaged subscribers. Are you seeing the same subscribers consistently skipping over your client’s emails? Maybe it’s time to remove them from your client’s main mailing list and add them to a “disengaged” list—try a win-back campaign!
Email client and device open data
Understanding the different email apps and programs your client’s subscribers are using will help you create consistent, well-performing messages. Do they have a high percentage of mobile opens? Are a lot of their subscribers using Outlook 2010? This information can help guide both strategic and design decisions for your client’s email program.
For example, if your clients are seeing a high percentage of opens on mobile devices, you might want to consider a scalable, fluid, or responsive design (we cover these approaches in the webinar!). Or use the data to send targeted messages to smartphone users, like announcing a new mobile app.
With geolocation data, you can pinpoint exactly where your client’s subscribers are when they read their email.
Are your client’s subscribers mostly in Europe? Are they mostly in Europe opening on Apple devices in the mornings? Looking at these metrics can have a profound influence on your send time, what platforms you tailor your content for, the language of the email, and even the type of content that they see.
For example, here at Litmus, we used geolocation data to target our announcement email for The Email Design Conference. West coast subscribers received info about our San Francisco conference, east coast subscribers about our Boston conference, and European subscribers about our London conference. These geo-targeted emails saw an average of 209% increase in opens over the general email that included information about all three locations.
Forwards and prints
Use forward and print data to note trends with email sharing and other evangelist behaviors. Consider rewarding frequent forwarders by creating a loyalty program. Print and forward activity can also help identify high-performing or “viral” content in your client’s email program, providing another data point outside of opens and clicks.
Is there a one-size-fits-all solution for optimizing designs across all the different email apps and devices?
The short answer is no. However, there is a silver lining! You don’t have to optimize your designs for every email app—you only have to focus on the ones that the majority of your client’s subscribers are using.
There is a very wide variety of email clients and apps that your client’s subscribers could be using to view their emails. Between desktop, mobile, and webmail clients—plus different versions of those clients, as well as numerous email apps—it can seem as though the list of places your client’s subscribers are viewing their emails is endless.
In order to stay sane it’s probably not realistic to test in every possible combination. As a result, knowing where your client’s audience is opening your emails is key to narrowing down which programs and apps you should test in. It not only saves you time, but ensures that your client’s email will render well in all of the necessary environments.
For example, if only a minor portion of your client’s audience is using Outlook—which can be difficult to design for—then you shouldn’t waste too much time optimizing your emails in that client.
Should we make it easy for our client’s subscribers to unsubscribe? Or is that email marketing suicide?
We always recommend making it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe. Not only is an unsubscribe link necessary under spam laws, but if it’s missing or inaccessible, it can greatly affect your client’s overall sending reputation.
If subscribers can’t easily spot an opt-out link, then they make block the message, or mark it as spam. While unsubscribes aren’t ideal, it’s better than getting a block or spam complaint.
How can Litmus help agencies and teams building emails for clients?
For starters, Litmus offers access to all of the metrics mentioned—engagement rates, email client device open data, print and forward tracking, and geolocation data. We provide these metrics at an aggregate level, as well as an individual-level. With Email Analytics you simply add a small tracking code to your client’s campaigns, and all of the deep-data reports are generated for you.
We also offer a plan that was built specifically for agencies. Our Unlimited plan allows your team to add as many users and use as many Email Analytics tracking codes as needed. We just charge based on usage.
Plus, this is the only plan that comes with subaccounts, as well as Litmus accounts that you can offer or resell to your client.
Want more information about our Unlimited plan? Shoot me a note.
Jenn Fernandes was the Account Management Team Manager at Litmus