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What Do Your Email Results Mean?

PaigeCahill, Regional Development Director, Kansas City

by Paige Cahill,  Constant Contact Regional Development Director, Kansas City

Every week or month you send out what you think is great content to your email subscribers. But do you really know if your messages are resonating with readers? If not, the reporting features included with your Constant Contact account can help you determine what messages are being opened, what links are being clicked on, and, ultimately, what your readers are truly interested in.

Opening act

While click-through rates are arguably more important when determining recipient engagement, I'll start with a look at open rates for the simple reason that if your message isn't opened, no one can click on the links contained within.

The key with open rate is not necessarily the number itself, or how you compare with other businesses or organizations, but the trend. Is the number going up, staying the same, or going down? If you see a downward trend, take a look at the number of opt-outs for each message: Is that number going up while your open rate goes down? If both are happening, you might be emailing too frequently, driving subscribers away, or your content may not be targeted enough. If you email weekly or more often, try scaling back the number of messages you send to see if that stabilizes your rate. For more targeted content, survey your subscribers to learn what they want to read about.

If it's just your open rate that seems to be the issue, maybe your subject line is the problem. An owner of a specialty antiques store came to one of my recent seminars trying to figure out why his open rate was low. Turns out, he used the same subject line ("New week's arrivals") for every email he sent out. That's not very compelling. After our chat, he changed the subject line to a description of one of the new items (i.e. "Handmade marble chess set -- only one") for each emailing, which provided a better visual to people and got them to open more often.

Clicks equal action

The real reporting gold can be found in the click-through rate and details, provided that you're including calls to action and links in your campaigns. Click data shows exactly what information people are interested in and can be used to further segment your list for better targeting of subscribers.

If you're writing about multiple topics in each newsletter, click-through information can be used to determine which topics are of most interest to readers. As an example, a business consultant may think readers are interested in leadership tips, but find they're clicking most on articles relating to marketing. Does this mean the consultant stops writing about leadership all together? No, but he may want to change the mix of article topics to favor marketing, since that's what readers are clicking on most often.

Taking click-through data a step further, you can separate those clicking on various topics into different lists. For instance, a travel agent offering a general newsletter with ski packages and beach packages could segment the skiers into one list and the beachgoers into a second list. The agent can send highly targeted offers to only the skiers when a great ski and stay package becomes available. The open and click-through rates for these messages are likely to be much higher since they're being sent to a targeted audience.

Clean up the bounces

Make sure to scrutinize your bounce rate as well. Too many non-existent email addresses mean your list might be getting a little old. Your list is not wine -- it does not always age well with time. Clean out the bad email addresses to ensure you're sending campaigns to real people.

And while you're cleaning things up, take a look at folks who have not opened a message from you in some time. They might not be interested in what you have to offer anymore but have not taken the steps to get off your list. It's a good idea to send them a quick survey to see if they're still interested in getting content from you.

Getting those off your list who never open will improve both your open and click-through rates, plus you'll be expending your energies on only those who truly want to hear from you.

Looking at your email marketing metrics can be good for the ego, but this information can also be used to enhance your campaigns, create more targeted lists, and keep subscribers engaged with your messaging.

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