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For close to 20 years, the tracking of email marketing engagement metrics has not changed very much. Apart from the standard open and click metrics with variants, marketers rely on engagement metrics that only scratch the surface of what it takes to propel growth within a program. In fact many industry benchmark reports, still use metrics that have been been around for a long time.
Let’s be honest, the metrics we have come to rely and report on the most are directional at best. Despite industry norms or what you were led to believe when you first took over as the lead in email, there may be other metrics that can drive your program to even greater heights.
To be clear, Trendline believes that the standard email metrics of uCTR, uCTOR, uOR, tOR, tCTR, device breakdown, bounces (hard, soft, technical, block), complaints, unsubscribes, etc., are still worthy of tracking and, in most cases, can tell a compelling story of what is happening in your program. However, if the goal is to create a more personalized experience for your subscriber and to use innovation wisely, you will need to consider tracking some new metrics that will tell new stories and gather new insights in order to become a more in-the-moment and targeted email marketer.
To that end, here are a few less common yet highly impactful program metrics for you to consider tracking. There is no doubt that some of these might not apply to your business, and some of these will be met with trepidation, which might lead to questioning. That’s great.
Let’s dive in.
Relapse Rate measures the percentage of subscribers who, at one point in time, were re-activated via a campaign and then again became inactive. This measure can provide insight into the effectiveness of the messaging and strategy of your re-engagement programs.
Once measured, you can then segment your list to see how many became “active” again vs. those who eventually reverted to inactivity. From there you can determine whether to purge or change strategy to truly win-back the subscribers.
In the real world, imagine you are an organization with a robust re-engagement program that is triggered based on subscriber activity/inactivity within the email channel. If you were able to break down the 5 email re-engagement points/emails via a relapse rate, you would be able to tell which of those 5 had the greatest impact on preserving the subscriber/customer and those subscribers who simply opened/clicked because of a questionable subject line or an offer that was too attractive and not profitable in order to try and win them back.
Engaged Loss Rate measures the percentage of “engaged” or “active” subscribers who were lost during a period of time due to the day-to-day email program. In addition to calculating the overall rate, organizations should look at the relationship between time on list to the engaged loss rate to better understand if seismic shifts (increase in frequency or use of personalization, etc.) might have caused seasoned subscribers to leave the program.
Losing a subscriber who has been engaged or active in a program is a missed opportunity. Knowing why long time loyal subscribers have left can provide valuable insights into potential pitfalls, especially if there have been major changes e.g., increase in frequency, increase in personalization, implementation of behavioral triggers.
On the flip side, this metric can also be very telling about those subscribers newer to a program, who were super active in the first few days/weeks/months and then fell off the engagement charts. Once an engaged subscriber is lost , a replacement needs to be found, which not only costs money, but also effort as the entire activation cycle begins again.
Last but not least, a loyalty program subscriber who leaves the email program can be especially problematic, and the use of the Engaged Loss Rate can measure the overall effectiveness of any of your programs.
Domain Engagement Rate measures the engagement across the top domains in the organization’s subscriber base. By looking at the historical trendline of the top domains in the areas of Bounce Rate, Click Rate and Open Rate, marketers may predict, isolate, and mitigate issues in their high-impact domains.
For example, Yahoo has historically plagued email marketers on inbox placement, and it seems to change all of the time. Setting up a dashboard to track Yahoo engagement over each send can provide a warning to marketers that benchmarks are in jeopardy within Yahoo so they can be proactive in taking the necessary steps to fend off deliverability issues.
Content is king, right? Content Performance Breakdown provides marketing insights on how the content performed down to the link level. In addition to the standard email engagement metrics, web metrics and conversion KPIs can be reported on for each link in each email no matter how many links are in your messages.
The marketer can then be armed with which content in what category performs best throughout the year and is able to keep this information when questioned by content creators.
If content performance tracking seems a little overwhelming and too much for your program, you may want to consider module metrics. Design trends in email marketing are relying heavily on individualized modules to drive dynamic content.
These modules or blocks are often categorized in terms of content, yet rarely reported due to ESPs’ (email service providers) often limited reporting capabilities. Looking at trending across modules arms you with an understanding of whether or not the hierarchy of dynamic content modules is optimized.
If your organization has clearly defined what constitutes Active vs. Early Lapsed vs. Lapsed subscribers, then having an engagement status trending dashboard is a must. Marketers gain insight into engagement tier movement along with historical engagement rates, but, more importantly, they are able to indicate the health of the subscriber base and give greater insights into areas to focus using testable messaging strategies.
Marketers often have to wait for analysts to prepare a spreadsheet or a report around the engagement “health” of their database. It’s often presented quarterly, and RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) modeling is sometimes layered in. However, in today’s fast-paced world, marketers need to know how engagement tiers move with almost every interaction and waiting is no longer an option. If the modern marketer had access to near real-time dashboards, imagine what they would do with the time saved to optimize rather than organize data.
As discussed, some of these metrics are a departure from what is normally tracked at most organizations. However, email is forever changing, and, in order to stay one step ahead of everyone else, you must be willing to forge new trails to learn more about metrics and gain additional insight into your program. At Trendline, we continue to track these metrics, and we would love to chat with you if you think we can add value.