It's easy to get attached to your email newsletter. Your boss once upon a time forced you to do it when you started to do more email marketing instead of direct mail, and you've stuck with it ever since. Maybe you heard from a few super-fans who look forward to getting it in their inbox every day. Or maybe an exec loves the email newsletter and would be quite upset if it went away.
But there's only so much time in the day -- you don't want to spend time on things that aren't producing meaningful results for your company. What if your newsletter was tanking, but because you weren't checking the hard data, you kept on doing it? Talk about a lot of wasted time and resources.
To make sure you're armed with the right information to guide your marketing decisions, you should keep your eye on the following metrics. They'll give you a pretty comprehensive picture of how well your newsletter is doing, which'll help you figure out whether you should be investing time in email newsletters.
One of the reasons you're sending an email newsletter in the first place is to get people to click on something (or a few things) ... so tracking the number of clicks you get on newsletters over time is a great way to judge if your newsletter is useful. If the number is slowly going down newsletter after newsletter, you might need to rethink your newsletter strategy.
Also, because newsletters have many different elements people can click on, you should see which links get the most clicks within the email. That information can help you adjust your strategy for choosing and arranging content within the newsletter based on what its goal is.
Notice that I didn't (and won't) mention opens before clicks. Opens are notoriously hard to measure. Sure, you can keep an eye on the metric and react if it dives drastically from one newsletter to another, but the metric itself doesn't give you reliable information.
Besides measuring what people are clicking on in your emails, you should be looking at what they do after the click. Do they convert on the landing page form? Or maybe sign up for the event you advertised? Or maybe just click on a CTA in a blog post?
Regardless of what you want people to do after they click on your email, you should be tracking those actions. The reason you send emails isn't just to get clicks -- you want people to do something after they click, whether it be consuming a piece of content or becoming a customer. If your email tool is hooked up to the rest of your marketing software, tracking this metric becomes easy.
3) List Growth
Over time, you'll want to get more and more people clicking and converting on your email newsletters because the more they do those things, the more likely it is you'll hit your monthly goals. More people in your list generally means more people will click on your email, and more people will convert on the content. Sure, list growth isn't everything, but you need to have enough people getting your newsletters in the first place to make the rest of your numbers follow suit.
4) Forward Rate
This metric is essential to growing your list. It sound weird, but growing your email newsletter list by emailing people who are already in your database works because of the possibility of forwarding. So if you're trying to get people to forward your emails, you also need to keep an eye on how many people are getting the content forwarded to them.
Your "forward rate" isn't a set-in-stone number -- you'll need to look at a composite of metrics to see how forwards impact your email newsletters and database growth. Email marketing programs can't tell how many people click the "Forward" button on an email, but there are two ways you can get an idea of your "forward rate":
If the content you link to in the email newsletter has a form on it, you can track the number of conversions on that form.
You can include a call-to-action with a short, trackable link to forward the email to a friend, and track the clicks on that link.
Neither metric is perfect, but they can give you a general picture of how forward-friendly your email is.
5) Delivery Rate
Generally, we're talking about all of those emails that aren't hard and soft bounces -- bounced emails that can't be sent to an inbox because the inbox is full or the address isn't valid, among other reasons. So your delivery rate is the total number of emails sent minus the total number of bounces, divided by the total number of emails sent.
Your delivery rate should be above 95% -- if you notice it slipping below that in general, try to clean up your list. If you notice one newsletter in particular has a low delivery rate, see if there are any spammy red flags that would make an ISP block your email from being received.
6) Overall ROI
If you're going to use email newsletters to grow your business, you should be able to tie their efforts to your bottom line. With closed-loop analytics, you should be able to figure how many visitors, leads, and customers your email newsletter content generates, and how much revenue they all bring in. This is definitely the most difficult of the metrics to track, but if you can use your marketing software to find these numbers, your boss will be very, very happy.
Do you send email newsletters? What other metrics do you keep an eye on?
Originally published Mar 19, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017