Too many email marketers are focusing on opens.
By “opens,” I mean open rates, the ratio of people who receive a marketing email to those who actually open it.
Opens are a very popular stat to track, talk about and try to increase.
It’s great to do those things, but opens aren’t the stat that needs the most focus. There is another stat that deserves far more attention, because it shows you if your campaign is doing its job and earning its keep.
But Opens Are Important!
Yes, they are. If someone never opens an email, they never click on a link inside. They don’t end up at your site — at that point, at least. And most likely, without opens, they don’t immediately go and buy from you.
But, just because it’s the first step in the conversion process doesn’t mean it’s the most important.
Translation: How much does your business grow if someone opens one of your emails?
And how much income do you get from a click to your site?
So, when do you actually benefit from your email campaign?
When you make a sale.
What About Building A Community Of Subscribers?
People who read your emails and visit your website do develop loyalty to your brand. They get to know you, and hopefully, they get to like you and appreciate the content you send.
This community-building is an important thing for a business to do, and email can be a wonderful channel to do it with.
Opens and clicks are the stats that will track that kind of engagement. This means they are definitely important to check in on occasionally, to make sure you’re getting the results you want and to identify spikes and dips. (Those tell you what content did the best — and what did the worst.)
But, let’s take a second to analyze this.
The reason for building a community, besides the warm-fuzzy feelings (which are certainly nice in themselves), is to make sales.
Otherwise, you’re not getting any return on the money you are spending on email marketing. And you’re certainly not getting compensated for all the time and energy you’re putting into creating your emails.
So, How Do I Track Those Sales?
If you’re using an email service provider, you most likely have a tool built into your account that can track how many sales come from each of your emails. You set this tool up by assigning a monetary value to certain pages on your site.
For example, the order confirmation page that someone hits after they purchase a $10 album from you would be assigned a value of $10, because you know you’ve made $10 off that person.
Then, once your sales tracking is set up, it will “cookie” a subscriber when they click over to your site. If the subscriber makes a purchase on that or a future visit, the tool attributes that sale to your email. (Visits to that order confirmation page that are not cookied as coming from your emails will not be counted toward your sales in your email marketing account, so you can get an accurate picture of the effect your campaign is having.)
The thing is, most businesses aren’t using this tool. That’s a shame, because it’s the strongest indication you have of which emails are bringing in actual revenue (and which are tanking).
If you use an email service provider, you’re not going to want to let much more time going before you set up sales tracking for your campaign.
Then, watch your sales. Check them after every send, and compare them to your overall average.
When you see a spike in the rate of sales per email, take note of what caused it. Most likely there’s something in that particular email — whether it be a strong subject line that garnered lots of opens, truly helpful information, or a strong offer — that’s responsible for the uptick. You’ll want to use a similar technique in the future to keep those purchases happening.
The same goes for those dips. If your sales from a particular email are far lower than usual, take a look at what caused it. Perhaps you alternate between sending interesting content and making sales offers. In that case, a dip in sales is to be expected on the emails that don’t contain offers. But, if you see low sales on an offer you’ve made, you have something to think about.
Do You Agree?
It’s true that one person’s perspective is limited. Even one industry’s perspective is limited.
So, we’re asking for yours. Do you consider sales the most important report to track?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.