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