Marketers often debate about which media to use in a campaign. But their sentiment about using email to engage customers is unanimous.

An email campaign can be valuable because a list of subscribers forms a captive audience. These are people who have actively expressed a willingness for engagement. They've opted-in to your marketing efforts.

But how to do you measure efforts your efforts to build on this list — and transform it to a meaningful customer experience?

Metric choices are not trivial. Email provides a bridge between branding strategy and direct sales. An analytic solution linked to an email campaign provides a means of understanding customer preferences for offers, discounts, a white paper or a general follow up.

Although many channels to engage customers exist, many companies still rely on basic email campaigns. Surveys show email is still used regularly for marketing in 2015 and mobile-only viewership of email is climbing.

With these email trends in mind, let’s examine how a web analytics solution and email solution connects your marketing strengths to your market.

Establish the Email Objective

Why launch an email campaign?

  • To acquire new customers
  • To entice Sales such as offering new services for customers
  • To provide customers “for you” sales via loyalty discounts or personalized offers
  • For general communication i.e. “Here’s what is new with us”

Selecting metrics for the email campaign will be based on the objective selected. The metrics selected should help monitor the performance of the campaign and inform the actions that lead into success.

So what metrics are typical in a campaign?

  • Number of emails issued
  • Rejected emails (also called bounced emails in some solutions) – similar to a bounce rate in analytics, but expressed as the number of emails rejected due to bad email addresses, network problems, or other issues
  • Clicks -- the number of clicks generated from links within an email

Once measured, these metrics should be factored into ratios that indicate the performance of an email campaign. A few ideas can include

  • Click Open Through Rate -- the number of reader clicks on email links divided by opened emails
  • Delivery Rate – the difference between the number of emails sent and emails bounced, divided by the emails sent
  • Open Rate – the number of emails read by viewers, divided by delivered emails
  • Unsubscribe Rate – the number of unsubscribe requests, divided by number of delivered emails

Be cautious of measuring campaign ROI only on sole metrics.

Today’s email campaigns are part of a larger, holistic strategy, so such metrics should be compared with attribution in mind.

For example, consider that a reader may not click on an email link immediately to arrive to a website.

Instead, that customer may go elsewhere online, view an ad in Twitter or receive a Facebook friend's shared article – either of which may remind the viewer to go back and click the email. In that instance, what is the cause of the click?

An analytics solution can rate different channels as significant contributors to conversion goals, as opposed to last click attribution.

Go Deep

The dashboards of most email solutions can provide these metrics and attribution tools. Data from an analytics solution like Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics is added so that you can envision the visitor’s progress from email to your website goals.

In the past, setting goals was an often-overlooked feature in web analytics. Yet despite new advances in tags today, many businesses still find ways to overlook.

Goals are essential because they can highlight an aspect of flow analysis – an overview of how visitors generally navigate your site to reach a goal page.

Goals are activities on a webpage or app session in which a user achieves. These objectives take the form – time in session, reaching a certain page or clicking a button.

Email Tag Basics

Appending a campaign tag on link URL will identify associated visits in an analytics referral traffic report. Campaign tags provide additional link information so that the analytics solution can evaluate the performance of individual links within your emails.

Link tags are typically created in an URL builder. Each tag consists of parameters. The number of parameters depend on the given digital analytics solution used. Google Analytics, for example, uses tags that contain the following meta information:

  • A source, where the referral traffic would arrive from;
  • A medium, which is the type of media used in a given campaign;
  • The given marketing campaign name;
  • And content, typically used for different variations of an email message.

A Google Analytics tag would look like the following URL string:

http://www.examplewebsite.com/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=signupdiscount&utm_content

You can see how the meta information about the campaign appears in the string.

Comprehensive CRM solutions like Infusionsoft allow the tag process to be automated so that emails are sent on specific actions. This kind or programming allows marketers to begin owning the customer lifecycle through targeted messages specific to a customer action or inaction.

Furthermore developers such as Bruno Skvore and Jim Gianoglio of analytics firm LunaMetrics have found ways to incorporate beacon images to insert tracking tags where adding a standard JavaScript tag is impractical.

Segment Your Audience

When an analytics solution provides context to how visitors are engaging a site or app, the performance of tagged email links can be examined for potential visitor segments.

A segment analysis can then identify suitable next actions that will encourage further response from the chosen audience.

A few ideas on segmentation is featured in this CMSWire post How Google’s Universal Analytics Help Segment Customers. With segmentation you’ll have an indicator of where marketing and sales can be more efficient and effective.

In a digital economy where customer experience becomes complex to execute, a measured email marketing campaign can be extremely valuable.

It reveals the simplest opportunities to serve relevant messages as well as indicators that can best manage resources. Well-planned email campaigns combined with digital analytics makes today’s data-driven campaigns a bit less fragmented and enhances customer experience.