Lyris Connections Blog

The Intersection of Email Campaigns and Your Website

Jan 26, 2011 by

Email Campaigns and Your WebsiteOne of the main reasons companies utilize Omniture, Webtrends, Coremetrics, Unica, ClickTracks or Google Analytics is to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns. Fortunately, companies using any of these analytical packages can also track their email campaigns with integrated software such as Lyris HQ. When email tracking is enabled, there are several great metrics and concepts that can help you quickly measure:

customer and prospect engagement (conversion intent), consumption (conversions), and whether your efforts are paying off or if adjustments need to be made.

What is an Email Campaign?

An email marketing campaign is the deliberate expense of money, effort, and brand to drive traffic to your website. I like this simple definition because it highlights the fact that in order to measure the success of an email campaign, we need to track the behavior of the website traffic it generated.

Email marketers are familiar with measuring the key email deliverability and open success metrics (opens, clickthroughs, bounces, unsubscribes, spam complaints and other key email statistics), and while this blog post is focused on website metrics, these email campaign metrics are still the foundation for understanding why we are under or overshooting campaign-generated traffic totals.

In addition, Lyris HQ offers marketers the ability to track email campaign visitors using query string parameters in email links. You can have any number of tracking parameters and map them to the custom tracking variables provided by the Web analytics tools. For Google Analytics, watch this 4-minute video about how to enable Lyris HQ email campaign tracking: Track Email Campaigns with Google Analytics. If you use any of the other commercial analytical packages mentioned above, you may have to talk to your Web Admin or analytics provider to learn more about custom variable mapping for campaign traffic that they provide.

Customer Acquisition and Retention Rate

Before we jump into specific online metrics, it is helpful to understand what kind of company you have to put the metrics into the right context.

  • Is your company in customer acquisition or retention mode? If 50% or more of your customers come back to your website to re-purchase (ecommerce), read the latest news (media), or download the latest whitepaper (B2B), your primary email strategy is customer retention. If less than 50% of your customers come back, your primary email strategy is customer acquisition. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of too many successful customer acquisition companies (except for maybe caskets.com), but if you fall into this segment, does this define your business model or are you struggling to keep customers?
  • What is your retention rate? Retention rate is the measure of customers coming back to re-purchase your products or engage in some other success event. Retention rate is a great customer key performance indicator (KPI) because it is measured from the customers’ perspective. Turnover is the inverse metric. To calculate your retention rate:

1. Establish a time period for your metric such as month, quarter or year.

2. Divide the number of customers that engaged in a re-purchase or accrued an additional success event (not in the same visit) during the chosen time period by the average number of active customers (customers with at least one purchase or success event) in the chosen time period, then multiply by 100:
# of engaged visitors / average # of active customers x 100 = X% retention

3. For example, if 1,000 of my customers re-purchased widgets from my website during the quarter, and I had 20,000 active customers during the same quarter, my retention rate is 5% (1,000 / 20,000 x 100 = 5%)

With these two company characteristics in-hand, we can now start laying the foundation for the metrics we can use today and over time. To measure the effectiveness of all this effort, track and trend your retention rate over time.

The importance of the exercise above is to help shift focus from thinking about email KPIs and conversion goals in Web analytics as the end all of metrics. Opens and conversions are half the story. Ignoring customer retention, especially if customer acquisition is not filling the top of the funnel, can quickly lead to peril for most companies. Remember, customer acquisition is usually more costly than retention efforts.

Online Metrics to Focus On Today

Once you have email query strings enabled, here are a few simple metrics that can help measure customer or prospect engagement and how well the email campaigns are performing. The goal over time is to constantly look for ways to increase the positive outcomes of these measures.

  • Bounce rate (online version): Simply stated, these are single page views. The piece of information to take away from this measure is that the email did its job and engaged the recipient to open it and click through, but something happened on the landing page that terminated the customer’s interest and engagement. Unless the landing page includes the success event you are driving your customers to, these occurrences will condition your customers to pay less attention to your future campaigns. Testing landing pages is an extremely beneficial effort to reduce bounce rates.
  • Time on site: How long the customer was on your website during a visit or session. This is a simple metric indicating how well your website engages your customers. Length of time can be a strong indicator of intent, and capturing a customer’s attention builds positive familiarity with your brand which is key to building retention and beating the competition.
  • Page depth:Number of page views during an online visit or session. This metric goes hand in hand with time on site. Please note that if your email campaign objective is driving your customer to a defined success event like a whitepaper download or product purchase on promotion, too many page views can indicate a confusing website.

    TIP: To find correlations between email body content and recipient behavior, track the email link ID parameter against an online conversion or success metric such as multiple page views or time on site to help better understand which content assets within the email are engaging your customers or prospects.

  • Mobile views: Number of pages viewed on a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android device (or number of visits). This is a good metric to trend over time against total number of views (visits). If it is trending up, then customers are using their smartphone devices more and more to read email on the go, so offering them mobile website alternatives is a great way to build loyalty and convenience.

Always remember the most actionable data is the most recent data! And, test your email campaigns and landing pages!

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Lyris Staff Writer

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Comments

Your article "The Intersection of Email Campaigns and Your Website" states "For Google Analytics, watch this 4-minute video about how to enable Lyris HQ email campaign tracking: Track Email Campaigns with Google Analytics." but the link is giving a 404 error. Is this video still available? If not, is there someplace I can find the documentation to do this?

Commented by: Lisa Cioban
Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 11 am

Hi Lisa-- This video is still available on our Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAsZndPsQ8k . We hope that you find this helpful.

Commented by: Briana Iwuji
Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04 pm

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