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Using Email Marketing Analytics to Drive Strategy


Email marketing analytics aren’t limited to indicating whether your emails are making it to the inbox, getting noticed, and inspiring whatever actions you hope your message encourages. (Though they deliver plenty of value in that regard!)

When you know exactly which analytics to watch and how to apply them in your broader strategy – they can deliver value well beyond the subscriber view.

Read on for some tips you can apply when it comes to using email marketing analytics to drive strategy. Want to dive further into the topic? You can watch our webinar “Are you tracking the right email marketing KPIs?” on-demand here. 

Think of email marketing analytics as the start

Open rates and click-through rates are common email marketing analytics to track – but they do little to explain the role email actually plays in your bigger marketing goals. As Chad S. White, Head of Research at Oracle Marketing Consulting, pointed out on our Litmus Talks webinar, the job of email marketing is not about managing email marketing campaigns. Nor is it about optimizing stages of email engagement individually. All the elements should work together, and be aligned. From that perspective, consider how you can maximize the value and engagement of the subscriber –- and tailor the experience for them.

When you shift how you interpret common email marketing analytics, you’ve got an opportunity to dig deeper into the funnel and find new opportunities to contribute to bigger goals.

Instead of measuring and reporting on a singular metric (like a click), think more holistically:

  • What can (or did) you do to get them to click?
  • Did it mean they were curious–or are they really interested?
  • If conversion is a goal, what else could you do to make that happen?

Prioritize email marketing analytics relative to business goals

Email marketing analytics like open rates, click rates, bounce rates, and inbox placement are commonly tracked – and do serve an important purpose as it relates to email campaign performance. But your analytics should also coincide with your business goals, and your unique business model. White reminds of another hard truth: the email metrics you’re tracking, reporting, and prioritizing should also align with what your boss (and their bosses) –care about!

Think about the real purpose of your email, and what you are really trying to achieve. Is the goal retention? Engagement? Conversion?

Those bigger business goals should play a role in what you focus on in your email campaign – and how much power you give those figures. If the goal of your campaigns is to drive revenue, for example, click-through rates will matter–especially as they relate to sales.

Report based on value being delivered

When your email marketing analytics don’t map back to business goals, the nuances (and impact) of them may fall on deaf ears–especially for those who aren’t closely involved with email.  Bree Rostic, Marketing Manager, Customer Communications at HubSpot, recommends aligning your email reporting methods with the broader strategic goals, and tying them into customer impact. Consider the type of email you are sending–and expected response for that email type– so you are gauging and reporting performance appropriately.

How often you report these figures and how they play into your strategy will depend on your business.  If you’re a retailer, for example, there may be value in reporting on email performance frequently during peak holiday selling seasons. Consider it a prime opportunity to use email to its full potential to experiment, test and pivot as needed, while you’re still in peak season.

When seasonality isn’t a concern, you may want to consider a monthly reporting cadence for smaller core teams, and quarterly reporting for more senior leadership.

Align with internal business and technology partners

Harnessing data is a significant challenge in organizations that have different (and disparate) data collection systems. But aligning email marketing analytics to your broader business and omnichannel strategy is far easier when you understand what exists elsewhere!

Dig into how each part of your organization is reporting and try to join those efforts (at least to some extent). Ideally, multiple groups in your company can work together to consistently deliver reporting that matters to the business strategy–and your unique lines of business.

Start with the basics:

  • What do you need–and why? From there, you can dive into what already exists (and where).
  • What story do you need to tell in your organization about what your data says?
  • How does that compare to other data sources in your organization?
  • What data will tell a story about how customers are responding to your business?

Then consider the best ways to get a full view of what’s happening–and placing the data where it’s accessible.

Email marketing consistently ranks as one of the top performing channels for marketers–and it can deliver a 36:1 return on investment. If you’re not considering email performance through the lens of your broad strategy, you’re missing out on its full potential.

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Stephanie Christensen

Stephanie Christensen

Stephanie Christensen was the Director, Content Marketing at Litmus