What were your most successful email campaigns in 2015? And how do you measure that success?
Many marketers focus on open and click rates. While those metrics can be a great way to measure overall engagement, they don’t paint the whole picture of a campaign’s performance. Especially when different emails have different goals.
As 2015 draws to a close, we decided to take a look at our own campaigns and gauge which ones performed the best beyond the typical open and click rates (although we mention those, too). Hopefully our reflections will inspire you to look at your past campaigns, and start thinking about email success in a new light in 2016.
1. OPEN RATE
While a flawed and imperfect metric, open rates are still a good indicator of how engaged your audience is with your messages—are you sending emails they actually want to open? They are also a great indicator of how well your subject line, from name, and preview text are performing (all three which are wise things to A/B test!).
This email announcing our investment news had our highest open rate of the year—39.09%.
The subject line of this email is “More big news from Litmus” and it was sent on October 27—both of which are likely a large contributor to its high open rate.
That’s because throughout September and early October we had been sending emails hinting that “something big” was coming for Litmus. And on October 19th we launched Instant Previews and Checklist. The email announcing our investment news was sent a week later—and included the “big” news messaging in the subject line. We had just launched some pretty amazing tools, so our subscribers were likely wondering what else we had in store.
Another factor in the high open rate? List segmentation. We only sent it to those that it would immediately impact and that would care about it—our customers and partners. It wasn’t sent to our prospect list.
2. CLICK RATE
While a high open rate is great, if your subscribers aren’t engaged and clicking on content and offers in your email, is it really a success?
When it comes to click rates, there are numerous ways to measure things. And, many email service providers (ESPs) measure them differently. For the purposes of this post, we took a look at three variations available within our ESP: total click through rate, unique click through rate, and click-to-open rate.
- Total click through rate: The percentage of subscribers who received the email (it was delivered and didn’t bounce) and clicked on links. This included multiple clicks in the same email by the same subscribers.
- Unique click through rate: The percentage of subscribers who received the email (it was delivered and didn’t bounce) and clicked on links. Multiple clicks in the same email by the same subscriber are not counted.
- Click to open rate: The number of unique clicks divided by the unique HTML opens.
When it came to analyzing clicks for this post, one email outperformed the rest. Our email launching Instant Previews and Checklist to our customers had the highest total click through rate and unique click through rate by far, and the third highest click-to-open rate.
- Total click through rate: 50.26%
- Unique click through rate: 27.82%
- Click-to-open rate: 75.79%
What does this tell us? Well, for starters, our customers are awesome and very engaged with our email! The high total click through rate also indicated that our subscribers clicked many links numerous times—which means they likely revisited the email often, or shared it with others who also clicked links.
Why such high engagement? We had been building hype for this launch for weeks—in fact, we had sent three emails prior to this that gave sneak peeks at our new tools. This email’s subject line was “The new Litmus is live,” so customers were curious to finally see it in action.
3. DURATION OF ENGAGEMENT
Just because someone opened your email doesn’t mean they actually read it. Read rates are another great tactic for measuring how engaged your subscribers are with your email.
Email Analytics breaks down how long a subscriber spent reading your email, compared to how many people just glanced at it quickly before moving on.
Unsurprisingly, our email containing a live dynamic Twitter feed had the highest read rate.
To generate buzz around ticket sales for Litmus Live, we sent an email that included a live dynamic Twitter feed—yes, a Twitter feed in an email. The email included the five most recent tweets using the #TEDC15 hashtag.
If subscribers wanted to see their tweets included in the email (it is pretty cool!), they had to refresh their email and wait for the tweet to appear. As a result, it’s no surprise that that over 60% of users viewed the email for more than 18 seconds!
4. PRODUCT SIGNUPS
Are you promoting a free trial or a product offer in your email? Looking at the number of conversions the email generated is a great indicator of the success of that campaign.
When we launched Instant Previews and Checklist, we segmented our lists and provided different messaging for each segment. Prospects were given an overview of the new features and the main call-to-action was to sign up for a free account.
As explained earlier, we had been teasing this launch for weeks. So, it’s likely that prospects were curious about what the updates were and wanted to try the new features out for themselves. This email generated 218 new signups alone!
5. NEWSLETTER SIGNUPS
It may sound crazy, but one of our biggest referrers for newsletter signups is our newsletter. Yes, you read that right. Our newsletter subscribers actually help us generate new newsletter subscribers—and it’s an amazing feeling!
This shows us that our subscribers are finding the content we’re sharing with them so helpful that they are sharing it with others, who are then subscribing to our newsletter.
That being said, our monthly newsletters are typically are biggest referrers (in terms of emails) for newsletter signups. And, our February newsletter led the pack with 167 signups—about a .4% signup rate (that may seem low, but subscribing to the newsletter isn’t even a call-to-action in the email)!
What makes this newsletter—and ones like it—so shareworthy that it encourages others to subscribe? Simple: It’s full of helpful, useful content—as opposed to purely selling products.
So, whether our subscribers are sharing individual articles from the email, or forwarding the full email to others, the individuals they are sharing it with are also finding the content helpful enough that they’re subscribing, too. This email had 356 forwards—which means it had a 47% signup-to-forward rate (wow!).
A truly engaging email does more than just get people to open and click—it compels them to share it with others. While social shares are one way to measure this virality, so are email forwards.
With Email Analytics you can see exactly how many subscribers forward each email. Unsurprisingly, our live Twitter feed email was also our most forwarded email of the year! It was forwarded 394 times (wow!). Our subscribers were so engaged with the email that they wanted to share it with others.
As stated above, our February newsletter had lots of forwards, too, which is unsurprising due to its helpful content (and its high number of newsletter signup referrals).
Our responsive webinar invite had the third highest number of forwards—321.
Emails that included registration links or information about an event (like the responsive webinar invite!) are the most common topic among viral emails. These types of emails were 3.2 times more likely to be forwarded than typical emails, according to our Viral Email report. Since people want others to attend events with them, it makes sense that emails like this are more likely to be shared.
7. SOCIAL SHARES
Similar to forwards, social sharing is another way to measure the virality of your email. People don’t share content they aren’t interested in, so it’s a great way see how engaged your subscribers are with your email.
Since our live Twitter feed email encouraged people to tweet, it’s no surprise that this email was shared the most. Within the first 24 hours of it being sent, there were already over 750 tweets—and we still get some today!
You won’t be shocked to learn that there is a strong correlation between forwards and social shares. The responsive webinar invite was the second most shared email on social—people found the event interesting and wanted to share it with others.
The third most shared on social (and fourth most forwarded!) email? Our Curated launch announcement.
Another factor for sharing is product news or announcements. People like being in the know—and being the first to break news to others—so announcements like this are likely to be shared.
8. WEB TRAFFIC
Another factor in determining the success of our email campaigns is website traffic. Clearly we want our subscribers to visit our website (and, hopefully, be convinced to buy a Litmus subscription!).
In terms of traffic to the site, our April newsletter brought the most traffic to the site—over 25,000 visits!
By only including articles that are extremely relevant and useful to our subscribers, it makes sense that our subscribers would want to click through to our site to read the articles in detail. Relevant content is king!
9. % NEW TRAFFIC
Traffic to your website is great. New traffic to your website is even better. Getting in front of new audiences is always ideal!
Our Instant Previews and Checklist launch email, which was targeted toward prospects, brought the highest percentage of new traffic to our site by far—87.5%! While these prospects have explicitly opted in to receive communications from us—they may have met us at an event or subscribed to a webinar—they have never actually visited our site. Since this message was targeted specifically to individuals who are not current customers, it makes sense that they brought a lot of new traffic to the site.
In second place, 54.59% of those that visited our site from our Rejoiner webinar invitation were new.
This email was sent to our newsletter list, which is a mix of customers, partners, and prospects. The topic of this webinar was different than our typical webinars—it was more marketing-focused than design-focused—so that may be a reason why it attracted a new audience to the site. In addition, subscribers may have been familiar with Rejoiner.
10. TICKET SALES (+ LITMUS’ PICK!)
Hey, our opinion on our top email counts, too! While our ticket launch email for Litmus Live in Boston may not have had the highest click rate or the most social shares, it sold out our early bird tickets in under 10 minutes—and it includes some pretty awesome easter eggs.
What do we love about this email? It combines advanced email hacks with pure fun by hiding five “golden tickets” within the email. Each ticket was hidden using a unique hack—like hidden ALT text or ASCII art—and the first subscriber to find a specific ticket won a free ticket to the conference.
And the best part? It worked! Early bird tickets sold out within minutes—and the entire conference sold out, too!
Check Out Our Other Top 10 Lists for 2015
- Top 10 Email Design + Marketing Blog Posts of 2015
- Top 10 Email Marketing Stats of 2015
- Top 10 Most Popular Snippets of 2015
- Top 10 Most Tested Email Clients in 2015
- Top 10 Community Discussions of 2015
- 10 Email Design Podcast Episodes of 2015
- Top 10 Most Popular Email Clients of 2015
- Top 10 Email Developments of 2015
- Top 10 Email Marketing Predictions for 2016
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