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Is Your Email Performing?

By Ben Kruger

Newsflash: Email marketing isn’t going away any time soon.

The case for using email in retail is airtight: On the marketer’s side, it remains the top driver of online revenue and the biggest customer retention channel. Meanwhile, 68% of consumers prefer to receive brand communications via email. The fact that you likely already have a strong infrastructure in place to support email and that it’s a channel with plenty of opportunities for innovation only adds fuel to the fire.

So if email remains one of (or even the) most important tool in the retail marketing arsenal, how well do your efforts measure up? Are you squeezing every last penny out of your email channel? What could you do differently? These are all questions you need to ask on a regular basis to ensure your email marketing is performing the way you want.

Of course how you answer these questions is just as important as asking them in the first place.

How Do You Measure Email Performance?

First and foremost, you need to think about how you measure email performance.

Of course metrics like opens, clicks, conversions and revenue per email are a good place to start. They provide a strong snapshot of the immediate impact of each email and deliver insight into how customers engage with your brand.

That said, these metrics only tell one piece of a much bigger picture. That’s because they only measure the performance of individual emails and they don’t take into account differences in customer relationships or long term impact. Even looking at the average for these metrics across all of your emails doesn’t tell the full story of your email marketing program.

To really understand how your emails are performing as a whole, you need to expand what you measure and how you measure it. That’s because every time an email lands in your customers’ inboxes, it has an impact whether or not it leads to a click or a conversion. With every email you send, you re-enter your customers’ consideration set. And what that consideration set entails will differ based on each customer’s relationship with your brand.

Measuring the Broader Impact of Your Email Marketing Efforts

Wouldn’t it be great to measure the broader impact of your email marketing efforts? Or at least measure the value of someone who opens your email, clicks through to your website, browses a few products and then makes a purchase three weeks later? Although that conversion won’t be attributed to the initial email you sent, that email most certainly had an influence.

One of the best examples of this extended influence is email campaigns that attempt to reactivate at-risk or lost buyers. In these cases, you’re emailing people who have clearly strayed from your brand. Most often, a single email is not going to bring them back — at least not right away. While you might get a handful of purchases from that email, those are not the norm.

Instead, a good indicator of success is whether or not people open and click the email to view a product and begin to re-engage with your brand. From there, you might continue to engage with them through triggered emails, such as product or search abandonment emails, price decrease alerts or new arrivals notifications.

It’s all about thinking long term and reporting on how the actions your customers take build over time. In other words, even though the first reactivation email you send might not have the best performance, it might lead to activity that brings those buyers back into the fold. As a result, it’s important to look at what else happens beyond that single email.

For instance, try looking at how predicted customer lifetime value changes for customers before and after you send an email. Maybe someone looked at three products and that activity increased their predicted lifetime value. Remember: Even though emails only get attributed to revenue if someone buys something right away, an email can still influence customers to re-engage and ultimately lead to them making a purchase weeks later.

Measuring Email Performance Based on Customer Segments

In order to get the full story of your email performance, you also need to measure the effectiveness of emails across different audience segments. As noted above, different groups of customers (e.g. active buyers vs. at-risk buyers or non buyers vs. first time buyers vs. repeat buyers) will behave differently based on the nature of their relationship with your brand. And looking at email performance in light of that relationship can prove quite interesting.

Think about it this way: What if instead of saying, “my email has a 20% open rate and drove 10 conversions,” you could say, “my one time buyers are opening these emails more than anyone else, and I’ve actually driven over 100 first purchases!”

That perspective creates a whole new ball game that allows you to know your customers better than ever before and identify different levers you can pull to speak to each group differently and boost performance as a result.

Putting Your Email Performance in Perspective

With all of that in mind, is your email performing the way you want? And how does your email performance compare to that of similar retailers?

Check out our 2018 Retail Email Benchmark Report to get the full scoop on what email performance looks like for retailers across the board, plus tips on how to build out your email program with a variety of targeted emails.

Ben Kruger

Ben Kruger

As the Senior Manager of Data & Insights, Ben helps retailers maximize their value of the Bluecore platform by identifying trends and opportunities within their datasets.