Analyzing email marketing campaignsBack to list of guides
What this guide is about
We’re going to take a look at how to read campaign reports, how to use the information to improve your next campaign and what steps to take in crisis situations.
We’re also going to learn how reports can help you to turn things around when you are not getting the results you want.
Analyzing email marketing campaigns
Every well-planned email marketing campaign requires an analysis of what has preceded it.
When preparing your email campaigns, you should:
- understand how your subscribers behave
- find strategies that have an effect on them
- discover the strongest aspects of your offer and what subscribers respond to best
To accomplish this, it is essential that you constantly analyze the results of every campaign. Every analysis has to focus on the proper understanding and interpretation of the metrics that are accessible in the campaign reports.
The most basic components of a campaign’s performance that help you to measure its success are:
- Open Rate
- Click Through Rate
- bounce rate
- number of unsubscribes
The common denominator of these elements is of course that they all help to measure progress towards the goal of customer conversion.
FreshMail also has a few other functionalities that help you to better identify and understand your target group.
The most important of these are:
- click map
- a graph showing when your messages were opened
- a list of the most-clicked links
But analyzing numbers isn’t everything. Good email marketers look through their subscriber databases at least once a month to create or update customer segments. You should also monitor the “Acquisition < Campaigns” tab in Google Analytics for real-time tracking of income generated by email marketing campaigns.
Remember that at this stage of analysis, you don’t need to compare your performance with industry averages or outliers who get amazing results. Just keep an eye on your results to look for steady improvement from one campaign to the next and if you don’t see it, then carefully go through the data to find the cause behind it and the solutions that will put you on the right track.
A falling Open Rate
If you have noticed a fall in your Open Rate, it may mean that:
You are sending your campaign at the wrong time
This is a crucially important aspect of your campaign that is always discussed in every training session and seminar on email marketing, where you can always hear someone say that they think that their subscribers will forget about them unless they send out a newsletter every day, week, month, etc.
In fact, there is some truth to this idea that you need to keep your place in the minds of your subscribers by keeping in regular contact with them.
If you have so many ideas for interesting and valuable content for your subscribers that you need to send a newsletter every day, then do it. If you are used to sending promotional offers once a week, then do that. If you prefer collecting ideas and inspiration over the course of a month while refining your newsletter to perfecting before sending it, then that’s the way for you to go.
The point is that there is no magic number when it comes to achieving the perfect frequency and timing for your email campaigns. The best way to find the best time to send your campaign is to constantly test and analyze the results you get. This is where using FreshMail Optimizer can help make your campaigns more efficient.
Your messages land in spam folders
If you notice a sudden drop in the response to your messages, it may be a sign that your subscribers never got them because the emails went straight to their spam folders. How do you know if this is what happened?
Take a look at your reports showing the statistics from messages sent to different email service providers. An unusually low open rate in one of them can be an indication that your emails have been tagged as spam by that service’s spam filters. If you suspect this to be the case, create a test campaign targeted to that email service provider. If you can confirm that your emails are being sent to spam folders, you should look into changing your name and address you use for the sender.
You’ve chosen the wrong message subject
This is one of the most common causes of a declining open rate. Coming up with ideas and the proper formulation is up to you but remember that you do have a very useful tool for helping you to determine what your subscribers best respond to. A/B Tests give you clear proof that certain words, phrases and ideas work better than others. Use them when it’s time to think of your next message subject.
Subscribers don’t know you
If you are just starting out in email marketing, it is often the case that subscribers simply aren’t used to getting messages from you. You have yet to build a reputation and recognition that helps to get your messages opened. These things take time but even at this stage you still need to have an idea of how you want to shape the campaigns that you send.
Use A/B Tests to see which sender names recipients react to best. Personalized emails can also be just what you need to draw attention and spark interest. A mail from “Angela at SuperStore” always has a better chance of being opened than ‘Automatic message from a machine”!
A falling CTR
So recipients are opening your message but it isn’t resulting in many clicks? These could be the explanation for your problem:
No links included in the message
Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best explanation. You can’t be surprised if no one is clicking on anything if there’s nothing to click on. Human error results in a lot more mistakes than you might think, so be careful to look for the most essential elements before you send your campaign. Be extra sure and run a test campaign to make sure the links are there and they properly redirect visitors to the desired landing page.
Clickable elements are not clearly marked
Recipients can fail to recognize that certain elements in your message are clickable. This happens most often when the clickable part is an ordinary link or something like “read more” in the same font as the text that it’s next to.
Use “call to action” buttons to make it clear where subscribers should click.
Subscribers just aren’t interested
If you are not segmenting your audience and adapting your offer to fit different groups, you can’t be surprised when you don’t get the results you expected. Segment, personalize and send the content that your recipients expect.
Your message doesn’t display properly
Another possible cause of low CTR’s is the improper display of your email. No one is going to waste time trying to read a message that is missing parts or mixed up.
You can easily avoid this problem by running inbox tests before sending out your campaign. Check your reports to see the CTR for different email service providers and fix your HTML code if the message is broken or scattered.
An increase in the number of bounces
More bounces in your campaigns can be a sign that something is wrong while in some cases it can have a more neutral meaning. The most common reasons behind a rising number of bounces are:
Messages sent to more than one list
If you send more emails to more addresses, you’re going to get more bounces. No surprise here, right? If you send your campaign to more than one subscriber list - intentionally or by mistake - you can expect to get a proportionately higher number of bounces. This is inevitable and no cause for alarm.
Uploading a new database
Bounces are always higher in a recently uploaded database compared to one that has been in use for some time. With each campaign that is sent from the new database, the number of bounces will decrease and will soon fall in line with the expected rate in any campaign.
Not using the Double Opt-In model
Be sure to use the Double Opt-In model in your subscriber sign up process. Doing so helps to ensure that invalid addresses are not added to your database and your campaigns will be sent only to recipients with confirmed addresses.
Failure to eliminate bad addresses from your database
Check to see if the number of allowed bounces for a given address in your database has not been increased. The default settings should be 3 for soft bounces and 2 for hard bounces. Any address that reaches these limits will be excluded from future campaigns.
An increase in subscriber resignations
A jump in the number of unsubscribes from your database is never a good sign and you should always take action if it happens. The most common reasons for an increase in the number of subscribers resigning from your newsletter are:
- irregularly timed campaigns
- a lack of interest in the content
- a message that doesn’t display properly
- not using Double Opt-in
Note, that the indirect cause of an increase in unsubscribes is often something else about your campaign that needs to be changed. One problem causes another. Getting things like the frequency of your campaigns and the coding properties right helps to avoid consequences like losing subscribers from your mailing list.
In addition to these factors, remember that the key to keeping subscribers engaged and happy to get messages from you is database segmentation and tailoring your offer to suit those various segments.
It’s worth including a few words about click maps here, even as just a reminder that you have lots of analytical tools to help you when evaluating the results of your campaigns. Despite being rather useful, click maps are often overlooked by marketers.
Click maps show what percent of the recipients of a campaign clicked on any clickable elements in your newsletter.
Arranging the pieces
Click maps helps us see what parts of your newsletter get the attention of subscribers. Imagine, for example, a newsletter like this with a design divided into small parts, each of which is linked to the same landing page.
Every clickable element in the newsletter takes visitors to the same website landing page and looking at the click stats will tell you what kind of elements get the most clicks. This is how you learn what works for you - human faces, large graphic elements or call to action buttons like you find in every newsletter.
Graphs showing click distribution over time
There’s nothing revolutionary about looking at data on a graph but it’s worth checking it out if only to see at which hours your subscribers are most likely to open your messages.
It’s a great idea to integrate this data with your CRM to see at what times your subscribers are most likely to move from opening your message to conversion. It can turn out that there’s actually a delay between a campaign sent out in the morning and the time when conversions from that campaign take place. An evening “peak” in the data might suggest that you experiment with the time of day when you get your message out.
After all, someone who gets your message first thing in the morning has all day to forget about it. That same person - at home in the evening, relaxed and maybe more open to responding to your message - can react completely differently to the same campaign depending on when he gets it. Finding that sweet spot is matter of experimentation - the success of your campaign depends on it!
Your most clicked links
No surprises here - your most clicked links will usually be your call to action buttons with the remaining clicked scattered among various other links.
What to pay attention to
As with all data related to your campaign, you always want to carefully look over it, searching for clues to help make your next one more effective with “remarketing” tactics.
Sometimes you will notice that a certain part of your offer received a lower number of clicks. The important thing to remember is that even a small number is better than zero and the link was obviously interesting enough to get someone to click on it even if it didn’t attract as many clicks as other links.
On the this basis, you can create simple subscriber segments:
- those who received a given campaign
- those who clicked on a certain link
It might be worth creating a special message for these groups, either with a special rebate or with a strongly personalized message like “We noticed that you are interested in our offer about…”
Focusing too closely only on your CTR only provides you with limited knowledge on how to interact with your audience via your newsletter.
Refining your database
Analyzing the results of your email campaigns is important but so is formulating a communication strategy with your subscribers and constantly updating your database segments based on actions they perform that help you to reach the goals you have set.
Goal: Personalized Messages
If you want your email marketing campaigns to be based on delivering content relevant to the interests of your subscribers, then you need data from your CRM regarding their purchase histories. Using this information, you can create archetype personas.
The segmentation of your database will be based on the creation of a group comprising people belonging to a particular persona. After preparing the database, you can either send different mailings to each group or you can use dynamic content and create one template that will display content corresponding to the interests of a specific recipient.
Remember that from time to time (preferably once a month), you must re-examine each group of customers. You may have to add another area of interest that distinguishes one subscriber from another or completely change their profiles. Although this kind of analysis is time-consuming, if carried out correctly it gives you the opportunity to build highly personalized messages, which in turn generates much more revenue. The statistics from any well personalized campaign will back this up.
Goal: Activate subscribers who don't buy
This is a common challenge that confronts just about everyone in marketing. Cultivating contacts in a database that you already have is a lot cheaper than than starting over with a new one.
Your strategy should depend on a simplified RFM analysis, with an emphasis on the ‘R’ - how long ago someone made a purchase from you. It’s enough to use your CRM to generate a customer base with the field "last date of purchase" and using that you “score” recipients according to when they made their last purchase. Give a ‘3’ to those who purchases not long ago, a ‘1’ for those who made their last purchases ages ago and a ‘2’ to everyone in between.
- for the 3’s, write to them with a message that says that as loyal customers, you have something special for them
- for the 2’s, send a message announcing that you have a modest rebate of some kind for them
- for the 1’s, create a newsletter announcing a huge discount or some kind of fantastic deal that will be difficult to ingore
Wait a month and go back to analyze the results. You’ll be amazed at the number of 1’s that suddenly became 3’s!
If you have another challenge or you are trying to come up with a new strategy to communicate with your subscribers and meet your strategic goals, write to us and tell us about it!