Things change quickly in tech.
In the last few years, self-driving cars, facial recognition, and blockchain have all become realities, while widespread adoption of artificial intelligence is becoming more and more inevitable. In spite of all these changes, email analytics and reporting barely evolved.
Features that were once considered exciting parts of email marketing platforms…
…did not follow the same evolution curve as the rest of the platforms:
In email marketing, opens and clicks still rule the day.
The number of email marketing platforms exploded over the past 10 years; there are now ESPs for various niches and customers (bloggers, SaaS, ecommerce, etc). The tools, the landscape and many of the features changed, yet the metrics did not.
Why change something that works, right?
The lack of innovation in email analytics can, in part, be traced back to the limitations imposed by email headers — used for email tracking — and the leading email clients (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc).
Opens and clicks are the metrics most marketers use to optimize their email campaigns.
They’re often the best metrics available to assess the reach and engagement of email campaigns. They’re also some of the core metrics we use at Highlights. Yet, they’re in no way perfect measures of email performance.
Email marketing platforms include a tiny image (a tracking pixel!) in every marketing email you send. When that image gets loaded by the email client, an open is counted. This means that if a recipient has image-blocking enabled on their email client, they won’t be included in your open rate.
The open rate underreports on opens, but it also over-reports on it…
These past few years, over 50% of email consumption happened on mobile. This, and Gmail’s market share increasing (example below), have made open-to-delete common place. Yet, those opens count against your open rate.
To add to the complexity of getting an accurate picture of the open rate of your emails, email forwards also count against the open rate. This, technically means, that an email can get an open rate of more than 100% (I’ve seen it!).
Although we generally recommend having a single Call-to-Action (CTA) in your emails, we realize that there are a lot of times when that won’t be possible (newsletters for example). Yet, an email’s click rate includes all clicks (clicks on email footer links, supporting links, and clicks on your main CTA). Does it make sense for all of these clicks to be part of the same click rate?
Now, what happens when your recipients land on your site or landing pages? If they leave within the first second, should they count as part of your click rate?.
This is one of the reasons why we often recommend using custom goals or revenue numbers instead of clicks to assess a campaign’s performance.
We also strongly believe that the clickthrough rate (CTR) should be calculated over the email opens (e.g. 100 emails sent, 50 opens, 10 clicks = 20% CTR), and not the total number of emails sent (e.g. 100 emails sent, 50 opens, 10 clicks = 10% CTR). If the email opens are accurate, this calculation gives you a better measure of the impact of your emails. That’s if… 😉
It gets even trickier with Unsubscribes.
Although a person may unsubscribe from a specific email you’ve sent, the decision to unsubscribe might have been triggered by a completely different email in your sequence or your email marketing program.
More so, many subscribers who are tired of receiving your email messages won’t even take the time unsubscribe. They’ll just stop opening, reading, and clicking. Worst, they might even mark them as spam. 😞
Unsubscribes are a good data point. A better data point might be an email’s disengagement rate. After receiving which email did your subscribers stop opening your emails? It’s a more valuable data point, but it’s a lot more difficult to get that kind of info.
There are many gaps in the way email marketing platforms calculate and report campaign performance. Most notably, when it relates to:
Getting clear data on intents (signups, opens and clicks) and outcomes (time on site, goals and revenue) is key to optimizing and getting results from your email campaigns.
To help marketers get complete clarity on their email marketing campaigns, we’re diligently working to improve:
We already started rolling out primary and secondary goal tracking. You can already use those to get more clarity on your email campaigns while we’re working to make Open, Click and Unsubscribe rates more actionable.
It’s 2018… Let’s make email analytics great again! 👊
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Originally published at www.gethighlights.co.