Posted 27th April 2018 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

Getting newsletter results to give more information


If you want your email marketing to work for you, you need to understand the depth of information that can be gleaned from newsletter engagements - not just the opens and the clicks, but following through to the sale and beyond. This article looks briefly at some strategies that will help you measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and gain a clear perspective on campaign outcomes.

Getting emailing data to work for you

All email marketing campaigns involve data –but it’s not so easy to manage your data to make great email marketing campaigns - if it was, everyone would do it. How often have you said, “Let’s send to the whole list?” on the basis that the more people you send to, the better the outcome, right? Wrong. You’ll have seen how your open rate plummets, the more people you add to the pot. Here’s a list from one of the sales team - let’s add it in. I found a pile of business cards from last year’s exhibitions - pop them in there. The marketing people in our partner company have just passed me their client list - they should be good to go. Not only is all of this illegal, it’s not common sense. Old, stale data is likely to result in many bounces and unsubscribes - just, don’t use it!

Moreover, with the fast-approaching GDPR, your company’s conformance to data protection standards is going to be of great importance. So, ensuring your data is fresh, clean and legal is of paramount importance. And, yes, you’ll lose some subscribers as you clean it, but the ones that stay are the ones that really want to hear your messages. Nonetheless, they probably don’t all want to hear everything you have to say …

Segmenting and personalising

Get more out of your data by classifying your subscribers into groups. They probably already fall into some natural categories - here are a few that you can easily add to your B2B dataset:

  • Industry sector
  • Business turnover
  • Product interest (previous purchase)
  • Geographical location
  • Language

Or for B2C clients, perhaps these may be of more relevance:

  • Language
  • Geographical location
  • Age group
  • Interest group
  • Product interest (previous purchase) 

Now that you have that information - and there are some canny ways to collect this data, such as questionnaires, encouraging subscribers to update their preferences or simply calling them and asking them for the information - you can begin to use those segments productively to generate insight.

For example, you can use historical campaign data to classify your subscribers’ behaviour by overlaying onto campaign results the groups that you have now made. The next step is to profile the outcomes and then split by specific interests or sectors to see if there is variance in behaviour between those groups. Any insight gained here will benefit the planning stages and content of future campaigns.

More productive, particularly with larger data sets, is to tailor the mailing campaigns to the sectors in the first place. For example, if you have a group of subscribers who are in chemical engineering and another group who are in automotive, it’s unlikely that they will share the same interests. As a result, you will need to either make separate variants of your newsletter campaign, swapping in interest-specific articles according to the subscriber or, make a single campaign with conditional content. This strategy will enable you to measure the effectiveness of specific types of content across a number of audiences and inform future campaigns.

Measuring more than the clicks

Now you have the ability to profile your audience before the campaign goes out, it’s important to understand what can be done after you’ve hit send. Create a plan to revisit each campaign – this can reveal a good deal about how people respond to your content. But what metrics should you be reporting on?

Every business owner or marketing professional knows the open rate and click rate. We’ve all ranked the most popular article and evaluated unsubscription rates - we use all this data as our management information to justify the campaign and its cost. But have you ever considered that this information is simply the start of the story?

It’s time to go beyond the click. This is the activity that takes place on your website and the analysis that follows. Website traffic generated via email marketing activity can be identified in Google Analytics. In other words, you can use Google Analytics to understand the following:

  • What pages do users navigate to after arriving on your website?
  • How long do users spend on your website?
  • Where are they located?
  • What device are they viewing your website on?
  • How many users “bounce” straight off your site upon land?

Combined with other tools, such as Google Tag Manager, you can delve even deeper and set up event tracking to answer questions such as the following:

  • How many users download something from your site after opening your marketing email and arriving on your site?
  • How many users use the search function?
  • How many users click “enrol” or “checkout”?

But what is it you want to see?

Deciding the answer to this question is largely about the type of business in which you operate. You may, for example, want to identify which of your product/service groups is the most profitable through your online activity and determine why that is the case. Equally, you could be wishing to see which of your sales territories or particular demographic of customer produces the most traffic, the most sales or, indeed, the least traffic or sales in order to determine what you should do about it.

The learnings that come from these analyses are many and varied but behind each analysis must sit a clearly defined question that drives the whole purpose of the data collection process:

  • Which product group performs best online and why?
  • What demographics of our clients influence their buying patterns? Industry? Sector? Age? 
  • Why is X product not performing, even though we promote it as strongly as Y product? What happens when people follow the link from the email to the product?
  •  What’s our total revenue each month over the past year from our newsletters?

What are you going to do now you have the information to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing?

Collecting information is fine and your email provider will send you results that show how well your newsletters perform. Equally, as you go “beyond the click” through into your web analytics, you’ll see evidence that is either directly available or, by analysis, can be inferred from the data collected. Now what?

The first step is to compile your results into a digestible format that can be shared with stakeholders in the company. The data results should directly address the questions you have asked. Those results in narrative format should be backed up by charts and data abstracts that ensure that your audience understands how you are reaching your conclusions.

The second step is to then define the “so what?”. Now you know that product X underperforms because visitors from your newsletter arrive on the page and bounce out almost immediately (bounce rate measured along with session duration), you can identify that there is something wrong with that page … or your product. Is the page working correctly (check on all browsers and view it outside the company firewall)?. Is the content written well and descriptively? Does it deal with objections well? Are the images clear and appropriate? What’s different between this page and product Y’s?

The above is a simplistic view of the outcomes, in order to make the point. In reality, your investigations and the consequences of those are likely to be more far-reaching. Once you have the bug for delving into your clients’ behaviour and the performance of your content, it’s hard to stop. And this essentially is the power and strength of great content marketing - making sure that the message hits the spot with the reader, at the right time and in the right way.

Not only do we provide email marketing services, our team of professionals are also skilled in search engine marketing and more.


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