Email marketing may seem as simple as opening a MailChimp account and hiring a copywriter, but you might be losing millions in revenue if you misplace optimization efforts and forget deliverability.
First off, this email marketing guide isn’t for everyone. It’s a an email marketing primer for sending millions of emails daily.
I’ll be sharing a way to look at KPIs that make further optimization a bit more manageable. I’ll also share a few of the more important tips for taking your email marketing to the next level with those KPIs in mind. Specifically, open rates and deliverability.
Your Email KPIs
There are several email metrics you need monitor so it’s easier if you chunk them: Individual Email Performance and Continued Email Health. In each of the tables to follow, bolded metrics are what I recommend you use for your KPIs in daily dashboards.
Individual Email Performance Metrics
These metrics are directly determined by your marketing strategy, copywriting skill, design prowess and quality of email addresses. But they’re also indirectly affected by your Continued Email Health metrics. Fewer solid deliveries means fewer possible opens and clicks.
|Openrate||Confirmed Opens / Accepted = Confirmed Open Rate||The number of users that an email is displayed (whether fully opened or within the preview pane) and recorded using tracking pixel OR if images are blocked and the user clicks any link including the unsubscribe link. This metric includes both HTML and plain text emails|
|Unique Openrate||Unique Confirmed Opens / Accepted = Unique Confirmed Open Rate||The unique number of users that an email is displayed (whether fully opened or within the preview pane) and recorded using tracking pixel OR if images are blocked and the user clicks any link including the unsubscribe link. This metric includes both HTML and plain text emails=The Openrate / OR measures how effective your subject line / newsletter title was in motivating recipients who received the newsletter|
|ROE Opens||To calculate ROE Opens, the total number of opens is divided by the number of unique opens. The greater ROE Opens, the bigger interest of the recipients in your email.||ROE Opens (rate of engagement (opens)) is the ratio of unique opens to the total number of opens. ROE Opens measures how engaging your email is and how your recipients value the content of the letter. The ratio is based on repeated opens that show the fact of opening the email by the recipient more than one time, or forwarding it to others|
|CTR||Clicks / Accepted Emails = Click Through Rate||The number of clicks on any links from a message divided by the number of accepted messages. For example if a message is sent to 4 people and two people open the message, downloading the images. One of two that opened the email clicked on a link one or more times, the resulting CTR for that link is 25% (1 unique clicker/4 accepted emails = 25%).= Please note: this metric includes the openrate / performance of your subjectline|
|Unique CTR||Unique Clicks / Accepted Emails = Unique Click Through Rate||see above, but refering to the number of people that clicked|
|ROE Clicks||To calculate ROE Clicks, the total number of clicks is divided by the number of unique clicks.||ROE Clicks (rate of engagement (clicks)) is the ratio of unique clicks to the total number of clicks. ROE Clicks measures how engaging your offer is and how your recipients value it. The ratio is based on repeated clicks that show the fact of clicking the link inside the email by the recipient more than one time or the fact of clicking the same link by other people if the email was forwarded to others by the original recipient.|
|CTO or CTOR||Clicks / Email Renders = Click to Open Rate||The number of clicks on any links from a message divided by the unique number of confirmed opens for that message. For example if a message is sent to 4 people. Two people render the email, and one of those two click on a link one or more times, the resulting CTO is 50% (1 click /2 confirmed opens = 50%).= The CTOR measures how effective your email message / Deal description was in motivating recipients who opened it, to then click a link.|
|Unique CTO or Unique CTOR||Unique Clicks / Email Renders = Click to Open Rate||Unique CTR, which refers to the number of people that clicked|
There’s enough written about email CTR to not go into it here. It’s simple: trial and error through email design testing and engaging content users want. It results in something like this:
Instead I’ll focus on something for open rates and help you prevent being mistaken for spam: Front Loading.
Front Loading (Bump Opens):
Load up Google and search “Subject line character number”. I’ll bet you find many different answers. For the longest time it was around 50, then it shrunk to 30. You’ll probably get random numbers between those two.
But guess what? It doesn’t matter.
As devices continue to evolve faster and email clients become more fragmented, it’s a losing battle to count. It’s not even focusing on the most important aspect anyways.
Interest, Recognition and Action are what matter. Load up all three of those in the first 10 characters and open rates get a bump.
Let’s take BuzzFeed for example:
“11 Tricks”, “29 Secrets”, “This Hilarious…” are three very interesting and engaging starters. That’s why it’s called “clickbait.”
One disturbing pattern I see in Japan/Korea is putting the company name in brackets first. How boring is that?
See this example from TOHO Cinemas:
The most important info, confirmation of my ticket purchase, is on the opposite side everyone begins reading from. Not only is it redundant and bad marketing, it’s a really poor user experience. Someone’s just going through the motions.
Front Loading (Prevent Spam):
On the flip side of positive front loading comes countering spam filters. Avoid words like these in your subject lines and first paragraph:
- Special characters ($, %, !!!, @, &)
- Popular virus and scam wording.
- Discounted, Teenage, Free, etc.
- Words involving the birds and the bees.
Also check your spam box for subject lines and words to avoid (e.g. Chance to Win, Members only, Hello, Hot…).
Continued Email Health Metrics
You can improve your Continued Email Health metrics through selection of Email Service Provider (ESP) and segmentation of your email messaging.
|Delivered or Accepted||Accepted = Sent – Bounced||Any email that is not rejected by a server, including emails delivered to the inbox, spam or junk folders or those are missing from those folders that did not receive a bounce reply.|
|Deliverability or Accepted Rate||Accepted Emails/Sent Emails = Accepted Rate||The total amount successfully delivered to the server divided by the total e-mail deployed (unique records). The amount successfully delivered is the total amount attempted minus all failures, including hard bounces.|
|Bounce||A message rejected by the receiving server. Typically bounces are referred to as either hard bounce, a delivery failure for permanent reason (e.g. a misspelled email address) or soft bounce, a delivery failure due to a temporary condition (e.g. mailbox is currently full).|
|Hardbounce||number of hardbounces / total number of emails send = hardbounce rate||An email message that is undeliverable due to an invalid or expired email address. The email is returned to sender as a “recipient unknown.”|
|Softbounce||number of softbounces / total number of emails send = softbounce rate||An email message that is undeliverable that could be due to: the recipient’s mailbox being full, the attachment being too large, or a there being a connection problem. This may be a temporary problem.|
Email Service Providers
There are two types of ESPs: easy-to-start, hands-off ESPs like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Aweber, and then more industrial-strength setups like CheetahMail. There are only a few of the latter. CheetahMail acquired most the competitors and forged partnerships in in more legally adverse markets like Korea (storing email addresses outside the country for companies based in Korea is a big no-no). That also makes them easy to work with in scaling your deliverability optimizations across the world.
Benefits from providers like CheetahMail include uncapped delivery speed, dedicated local mail servers and private IP blocks.
Ever wonder why your emails take so long to send with your mail?It’s because they’re also sending email for others on the same servers you use – from the same IPs too.
You might also notice you’re advised if you get a certain % of spam reports or unsubscribes you’ll be suspended. That’s done as a courtesy for other clients of the service as they maintain delivery for all using their servers.
With a dedicated provider you’ll be able to deliver millions of emails an hour. You’ll have private, clean ip blocks that haven’t been used before and you won’t be gambling on delivery rates.
Email Messaging Segmentation
Sending your emails from the same domain or email address is risky. It’s best to segment your emails into categories like these:
Transactional: Your most important communication. One undelivered confirmation email or receipt can cost you a customer. These deserve their own address or subdomain.
Newsletters: your regular emails that customers or followers expect on a regular basis. Not the most important and could be something like a separate blog address from your content marketing efforts.
Sales: Irregular emails for seasonal promotions or SalesForce emails from sales staff. Try a subdomain.
Here’s an example of email fail from Yahoo Auctions Japan:
This weekend I missed a few transactional emails for flagging their newsletters years ago after I couldn’t unsubscribe. All of these emails are sent from @mail.yahoo.co.jp (and the inspiration for this post).
This is called domain reputation and it goes a long way. Experian, now parent company of CheetahMail, wrote about it here.
Equally important, if a sender is using the same domain for transactional messaging, those emails may also see their deliverability rates decline..[read more]..
tl;dr Don’t stick transactional on the same domain as your marketing and sales efforts.
In closing, email marketing is often one of digital marketing’s afterthoughts in teams with big ad budgets. While ad spend is being decided or fancy new programmatic buys go down, deliverability will all too often continue suffering. Or, emphasis on email marketing is misguided in areas like photo choice or branding. Responding to your most important KPIs by fixing deliverability and open rates are low-hanging fruit that should be your first steps and will result in quantitative wins.