KPIs or key performance indicators are becoming ever more integral to the reporting and analysis of email marketing.
There are many reasons why email KPIs are a must, but most importantly:
- they make it easier for you to align your efforts with wider department/company objectives
- they help you define success, benchmark against tangible goals and track what works and what doesn’t – so you’ll know what to repeat, and what to never do again!
It’s important to embrace KPIs and view them as a valuable means to drive success rather than pinpoint failure, both individual and company-wide. Metrics help you make sense of all your marketing efforts, putting you in a better position to optimize activities so they contribute highly to overall business growth. 90% of executives surveyed in a recent Return Path report believe that their email marketing strategy is successful in achieving wider business objectives.
A great way to plan your KPIs is to use the SMART planning methodology – this will ensure that metrics are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. These are all pre-requisites in achieving value from your KPI process.
Specific – rather than say that you’ll focus on increasing open rates, say by how much i.e. “we aim to increase unique open rates by 5%”
Measurable – make sure you can measure the results of your efforts – luckily with email, just about everything is trackable!
Achievable – set goals which are a stretch and will require hard work, but which aren’t unrealistic. KPIs should be met continuously; falling at the first hurdle will just encourage a deviation from your core objectives
Realistic – think about ways you can turn your goals into reality. If we consider the increase in open rates example, think about how you would go about boosting this metric, via tools such as send time optimization and subject line testing
Timely – give yourself enough time to achieve your KPIs, but not so much time that they lack a sense of urgency and become redundant
Email marketing objectives
When putting KPIs into place, it’s important to understand your core email marketing objectives. The likely ones are:
- Driving ROI
- Maximizing conversions (downloads, demo requests, event registrations, purchases etc.)
- Increasing list growth (i.e. organic: website, in-store)
- Increasing opens and click throughs
- Promoting social sharing
- Reducing bounces
- Decreasing unsubscribes
Of these objectives, ROI tends to be the most crucial for key stakeholders. However, as they’re all interconnected with revenue growth, it’s advisable to measure them individually so that you can better judge your email performance. According to Return Path, 67% of top executives surveyed in its report believe that conversions are the most useful KPI for measuring email success, followed by ROI and click throughs.
KPIs will be different for every single business. Start with your top-level goals, filter down to objectives and then set granular metrics that benchmark your success. Email is widely considered as the most effective online channel, essential in funnelling sales and driving revenue. Many will therefore have a vested interest, so it’s more important than ever to track and optimize its performance.