Thursday, October 26, 2017

Using Marketing Analytics to Win at Email Marketing

You might be part of the group of marketers that feel as though your email campaigns are missing something.

Only, you’re not sure what they’re missing.

You’ve reversed engineered your competitor’s email campaigns to see what they’re doing, but the truth of the matter is, you will never know the strategy behind their success because you don’t have access to their analytics.

So you end up in a cycle. You create emails, you write good copy and add relevant graphics, just like the guides tell you to, but you still don’t see the kind of results everyone talks about.

Email marketing is consistently one of the best marketing avenues to use.

So why aren’t you seeing the same results?

Many marketers make the mistake of not paying close enough attention to their email marketing analytics.

If you’re a marketer who isn’t using data to fuel and guide your email marketing campaigns, you’re leaving serious money on the table.

Data allows you to see what does and doesn’t work so you can optimize your emails to perform better.

It’s a tricky, but rewarding process and involves taking raw data and turning it into actionable insights to help improve your email marketing campaigns. Doing so will put you leagues above your competitors.

In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of using email marketing to improve the way you segment your emails, improve the email content you send out and create winning email marketing campaigns.

It doesn’t matter how brilliantly written your email marketing campaigns are, or how many well designed images they contain if you don’t see any results or can’t measure whether your efforts are helping you achieve your overarching goals.

Let’s dive in!

Choosing an email marketing vendor

Looking at the current landscape of email marketing and the software available is often overwhelming.

If you’ve already chosen, and are happy with your email marketing provider, move on to the next section.

If we look at the email marketing software market radar below, it’s clear to see there are a number of different vendors to choose from.

Choosing an email service provider largely depends on what you hope to achieve with your email marketing campaigns and what feature(s) you’re looking for.

Source: Email Marketing Market Research, Crozdesk

Taking into account vendor size and the strength of the solution may help you evaluate which vendor to choose from based on your business’ personal requirements.

For example, if you’re looking to send automated, triggered email messages, you might use a tool like Kissmetrics Campaigns or you might choose to use a provider like Sendgrid if you’re looking to just send email marketing newsletters.

The issue, though, is although your choice of vendor will have some say in the types of email marketing campaigns you can run, they only go so far with providing you an honest view of how your email marketing campaigns are performing and what you need to do to improve them.

If you are looking to improve your email marketing campaigns, you need to consider utilizing analytics to provide you with the core insight into how your current campaigns are performing against your preset goals.

Know Your Goals Before Choosing KPIs

Before you begin email marketing, think about what you hope to achieve from it.

You need to set goals.

Where most marketers go wrong is thinking their goals should be things like:

  • Increase open rate
  • Increase click-through-rate
  • Reduce the number of people who unsubscribe

Although these are some good metrics to follow (more on that later) they’re not goals.

Your email marketing goals should align with your business goals. For example, you might choose to do email marketing in the hope of generating more leads, growing your subscriber base or converting more leads into customers.

Note: you can have more than one goal, but you’ll have to tailor each metric to each individual goal.

When you’ve chosen the goal of your email marketing campaign, it’s time to work out which metrics you should be using to track the progress of your goal.

Image Source

For example, 73% marketers identified click-through rate as being one of the most useful metrics for measuring email marketing performance.

But let’s think about that for a second.

Say you’re the email marketing manager at a SaaS company, you might want to increase your open and click through rate.

The problem is, open rate and click-through rates are known as process metrics. They indicate the order of events that occur from when an email is sent to when it reaches the subscriber. But they shouldn’t be goals in and of themselves.

Now if we reframe the situation and change our goal to: increase the number of free trial sign ups.

The reason isolating metrics is counter-productive is because it doesn’t give you the full picture.

Within your last campaign, suppose you increased your clickthrough rate. You might think that’s good, but the key question you need to answer is, did that increase the number of free trial signups? If the answer to that question is no, you need to work out why.

If it did increase the number of free trial sign-ups, can you correlate that to your click through rate. Now, you can see how things like changing your email subject can have a direct effect on your click through rate which in turn has a direct effect on your conversions.

The key is to not take each metric as an individual number, but to use these process metrics and incorporate them into your overall marketing strategy to increase your revenue, or whatever your end goal might be.

If your goal is to attract more visitors to your website you probably want to focus on growing your subscriber list. So this is the metric you need to be following.

But what if your goal is to increase the number of leads generated? If this is the case, you should be tracking how many leads you’re capturing each day/week/month.

Choosing the metrics to follow largely depends on what sort of business you’re running. A SaaS company might have different goals than an e-commerce company who also might have different goals to a non-profit.

Moving beyond basic data

If you want to win at email marketing, you need to think seriously about your analytics. There is a lot to track, so I’ve broken the core analytics down to focus on into three categories: basic, advanced and expert, with each getting harder to come by as you go up the scale.

Basic metrics

Basic metrics are easily accessible and are also known as behavior metrics. Most basic email service providers will give you some information around these metrics.

They include things like:

  • How many people open your emails?
  • How many people click your links?
  • Which links get the most clicks?
  • What’s the most common time people open your emails?
  • How many people unsubscribe (on average) from each email you send?

You might already be looking at behavior metrics to improve your email marketing campaigns.

But you’re ruining your chances of developing a winning email marketing strategy if this is the only data you consider.

What’s the point in having 100% open rates if no one purchases? Something has obviously gone wrong and understanding analytics further will help you understand why and where it all went wrong.

An open case for advanced email metrics

The thing about the basic metrics like click through and open rates, they’re basic metrics and simplistic. In that whilst they tell you who opened the email and who clicked through, they don’t tell you much else.

Moving beyond these basic metrics, consider your click-to-open-rate.

This metric tells you how engaging your email content is. It helps you understand whether the content of your email resonates well with your specified target segment. Working out this metric will provide you with a percentage of your subscribers who opened your email and also clicked on a link. It helps give you a clearer idea of the entire story.

So if one of your goals is to create engaging content, your aim should be to increase this percentage. Your click-to-open rate gives you an indication of how your subscribers behaved when they opened your email.

It gives you a complete, holistic view of how your email content is performing. For example, you might have a low click-through rate, but you can still have a solid click-to-open-rate. If you judge your emails on just one metric, you won’t get the full picture.

When you create a Kissmetrics Campaign, you set a Conversion goal. If the users you sent these emails to convert, they’ll count in this converted list. So for example, if you send out an email to people about a sale, you can select your Conversion as “Purchase”. If they read your email, then go on to Purchase, they’ve converted.

Advanced metrics

The advanced metrics looks at the results of your campaigns. They help you answer things like:

  • How many people actually purchased one of your products or services after clicking on your email?
  • How much money do you make on average per email campaign sent?
  • How much (on average) does each subscriber bring you in revenue?
  • How many of your email subscribers convert into an actual lead?
  • What is your email marketing ROI?

Expert metrics

Expert metrics are also referred to as experience analysis.

Experience analysis explains why your subscribers do what they do. Expert metrics are important because they show you what drives your subscribers decisions and the motivations behind the choices they make when they choose to engage or ignore your email.

Instead of just knowing how many of your emails within a specific campaign were opened, you’ll understand why they have a higher rate.

You’ll have a greater understanding why revenue is higher or lower at certain parts of the year, for example.

Now the issue is, for this area of analysis, you probably won’t be able to gather this data from your email provider. You’ll have to look further afield to get into your audience’s mind and understand exactly what makes them tick.

It’s no lie that understanding the behavior analysis is important, but it only goes so far. If you want real insight you need to know whether the people who are engaging with your emails are doing so because they’re bored on their train to work, or whether it’s because you framed your message right and they’re interested in doing business with you.

Using your data

Now that you’ve gathered the right data, it’s time to start listening and drawing the right conclusions.

When you have collated the right data from your email campaigns, you’ll be able to send better email marketing campaigns by first creating data driven customer personas.

You’ll now identify who to target, when and why you should target this person and send them content you know will be useful to them.

For a second, let’s think about our own email inbox. How many times per week do you receive irrelevant emails that seem as though they have nothing to do with you? How many times a week do you consider, or actually unsubscribe from email newsletters?

If everyone used their data to fuel their marketing campaigns, they’d have less people unsubscribing.

Using a tool like Kissmetrics Campaigns will enable you to send automated, triggered emails based on user’s previous behavior. The beauty of these email is that they’re not cold and they’re not unwanted because they’re based on previous behavior. These emails are in place to nudge the user towards something, whether that be purchasing, logging in, etc.


When you start to use the right tools to get the right data you’ll be able to:

Define and segment your audience

Who is your audience, and what sort of emails do they want to receive? When you’re defining your audience, let’s not forget about your original goals from the beginning.

In the example below, Pets At Home, a pet retailer, use the name of the pet within their email copy.

They also ascertain exactly what type of pet you have whether that be cat, dog, rabbit etc to ensure they only send you relevant targeted emails that you’re likely to open.

personalized email example

If you don’t segment your emails, you will end up sending general emails that attempt to appeal to everyone but end up appealing to no one.

It’s shocking to think there aren’t more more marketers segmenting their audience based on data because segmented emails generate 58% of all email revenue.

When you choose to segment your audience you improve the personalization of the emails you send.

You can segment your audience by demographic data such as:

  • Age
  • Income level
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Marital status

But most importantly, if you want real success with your email marketing, look at how your audience is behaving and segment based on that in relation to your overall goals we spoke about before. You might consider things like customer type, spending history, adoption status etc.

Targeted, personalized content

Once you’ve segmented your audience, you’ll be able to send specific relevant content to different cohorts of people.

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.

Target messaging involves having an understanding of your audience and tailoring content and offers that speaks to them at the different stages of their journey with your brand.

In simple terms it means using the information about the audience within that segment to guide your message. If you’re a SaaS company and you have a segment of subscribers who have yet to try your software, sending them an email letting them know there’s another chance to get a free trial will obviously be more relevant than sending that email to someone who is already making great use of your software.

Email marketing shouldn’t happen in silos

Email marketing, as we’ve said, shouldn’t happen in isolation to your other marketing efforts, they should all be connected. Email marketing should be there to support your overarching, larger goals.

Often, your email audience will be prompted to visit your website after reading an email. It’s important to continue looking at the data once they land on your website to see if the whole cycle from email, to lead to conversion could be improved.

Use a heatmap tool like CrazyEgg to see where your visitors are clicking on and interacting with your page.

Doing so means the hard work from your email marketing isn’t lost by a poor landing page that doesn’t perform.

What’s more, if you’re already using Kissmetrics campaigns, you can use the platform to track website behavior too.

Having a tool that tracks both the way your audience are interacting with their emails and your website will give you a much clearer idea of what is and isn’t working. You’ll not only get to understand the behavior, but you’ll be able to see what they actually did on your site and see exactly who they are.

Testing and analyzing

Even after you’ve defined your overarching goal and the metrics you need to follow to achieve that, you should always be testing.

Because your email marketing campaigns are now data driven you will have a clearer idea of what elements you should test.

Focusing on the data will give you a clearer idea of what elements you should be testing.

If your goal is to increase landing page sign-ups, you might decide to track your open and click-through rates.

If you notice you have low open rates, but high click through rates, that should tell you that the content of your email is good, but you need to improve your subject like to encourage more of your subscribers to open your email.

Analyzing your results in this way will improve your email marketing campaigns.

It will give you a clearer idea whether or not you’re focussing on the right metrics and also whether the things you’re doing to improve your campaigns are actually working.

In short, look at the metrics you’ve chosen, compare those to the desired goal and devise a list of ways to improve next time.


How do you measure your email marketing success? Do you look at your open and click rates? Do you look at the number of people who unsubscribe and hope it’s lower than your last campaign?

If you do any of these things, you’re utilizing the basic core metrics most email marketers use.

But you’re ignoring the most important and critical metrics that will actually enable you to improve your email marketing.

Finding data isn’t hard and most email providers will offer some sort of analytics data in order to understand how your current and past campaigns are performing.

And for some marketers just looking at your open rate or click through rate is perfectly ok.

But what challenges most email marketers is finding advanced data and finding specific data to make the right changes to campaigns.

This post outlined how to define email marketing goals and use those goals to define which metrics you should be concerned about.

I’ve also explained why you need to look beyond the basic metrics to gain helpful insights into your subscriber list and how they behave.

So, now you should be able to leverage your own email data to improve how your email marketing campaigns perform.

What ways have you utilized email marketing analytics to your advantage? Leave a comment below.

About the Author: Jordie Black is a content marketer and strategist helping startups and SaaS companies in the B2B space improve the way they connect with their audience through content. Learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter @jordieiam to keep up with her updates.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog