Email metrics come in many shapes and sizes … open rates … click-throughs … subscribes … unsubscribes … bounces … ROI … share rate … list growth rate.
You get the idea.
But do all of these metrics really matter?
Email Metrics Analysis Paralysis
Analytics can be good or evil, depending on how the data is used.
Vanity metrics, for instance, can be your bottom line’s worst enemy…
Vanity metrics, for those who don’t know, are measurements that seem important, but actually offer no insight into the process in question.
Take “Facebook Likes.”
How important are they, really?
A high like count can offer a certain amount of social proof.
But can you directly connect that number to the bottom line? Can you calculate its ROI?
The same goes for many other social media metrics — shares, hearts, follower count, and so forth.
At the end of the day, there’s really only one metric that matters…
Businesses Should Only Care About the Bottom Line
And the bottom line is ROI.
The most important metrics for most businesses, then, are those that relate to profit, revenue, customers, sales, etc.
Retweets tell you nothing.
And, as we’ll see in a second, email open rates might not indicate what you think it indicates.
To evaluate metrics properly, it’s always good to put them in the context of ROI.
Take the following example…
Do these look good or bad?
- Your email newsletter has a low open rate
- One of your lists has a high monthly churn
- One of your email blasts got a ton of social shares
- A new email list has a high growth rate
On the surface, they seem pretty self-evident.
- Low open rates are bad…
- High social shares are good…
- And high growth rate is good…
I’m sure that savvy marketers know where I’m going with this…
But when you look at this data from a bird’s eye view, you’ll realize that none of them have any context.
The Moral: Always Zoom Out
Realize that a single data point can mean different things depending on the context.
Zoom out a bit to see what that context is.
For instance, if I add the following additional info to the above data, then the picture completely changes:
- Your email newsletter has a low open rate, but sales are very healthy
- One of your lists has a high monthly churn, but customers that stay have a high lifetime value
- One of your email blasts got a ton of social shares, but zero sales
- This new list has a high growth rate, but low opens and lower sales
These examples are just to illustrate a point.
But it’s an important one.
Taking data out of context … or focusing on the wrong picture … costs valuable time and money.
It’s even possible to keep adding more information to the above example, further changing the picture.
Which is what we should all be doing in our businesses.
And we should always look at the bigger picture.
Email Metrics Should Trace Back to Sales, Customers, and Profit
As we’ve seen, it’s easy to take a single metric to mean something specific.
When in fact it could mean several things. Or something totally different than our assumption.
A low open rate, for instance, could mean:
- You’re sending the wrong content
- You’re sending to the wrong people
- Your emails are ending up in the spam folder
- Your emails are boring
Or a combination of these.
In such situations, it’s important to dig deeper. Research can tell you the real reasons your open rate is low … and what should be done about it.
Most of the time, it’s easier to go with an assumption – but such superficial analyses never yield the best possible results.
Likewise, “unsubscribes” aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, you can think of them as good.
It just means that those people aren’t the right fit for your list, your product, or your business.
You certainly don’t want to waste your time marketing to the wrong people.
In fact, some email experts advise that you constantly whittle away at your list.
Shaving off dead weight ensures that you cultivate a dedicated, loyal audience … instead of marketing to the wrong crowd.
Final Thoughts: Focus on Email Metrics that Impact the Bottom Line
I’m all about direct response marketing.
Which means, as I mentioned, that ROI, sales, and customers are the bottom line.
It’s important to be very careful when evaluating your email metrics. Wrong assumptions can lead to wrong conclusions and bad investments.
Instead, the focus should be on the audience.
Put them first, build good relationships with them, and the right metrics will indicate that.
Thanks for Reading, and Don’t Forget…
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