This is the fourth article in our Email Marketing series. If you haven’t read the first three, please take a couple minutes to get caught up.
- Why you need to do email marketing
- Ways to Use Email to Communicate with Your Clients
- Are Your Emails Friendly?
Basic Terms and Information
To keep things simple, services like MailChimp are email service providers. These services allow you to send emails to many subscribers correctly and can track a variety of statistics. When I say email service, I’m referring to services like Gmail, Outlook or email you get using your company domain.
It is important to understand that only HTML emails are trackable. If you see images, colors, text styling (bold for example) and links that aren’t written out (https://www.brettatkin.com), you’re looking at an HTML email. If you send a plain-text email, counting opens is not possible. Counting clicks is not possible unless you use a link shortening/tracking service like Bit.ly.
Email service providers include a tracking pixel or web beacon in all HTML emails they send. This is a tiny graphic that is unique to each subscriber. They count how many times that graphic is requested/loaded. To count clicks, they do something similar by creating unique URLs for each subscriber and count the click before redirecting to the final URL.
If a subscriber has turned off image loading, the open is not counted because the tracking pixel is not requested.
Opens and Clicks
By using an email service provider like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, you have access to a variety of email statistics. The two big ones are Opens and Clicks.
Opens tell you how many unique opens occurred and how many total opens occurred. An “open” occurs each time the tracking pixel graphic is requested. This doesn’t mean the subscriber actually read the message. If their email client has a preview pane, the message could be loaded and counted without the subscriber ever reading it.
If you have links in your message, a click is counted each time the subscriber clicks. Most services tell you how many times each subscribed clicked each link.
Some other statistics to look at are:
- Successful Deliveries
- Spam/Abuse Reports
Successful deliveries count how many subscribers received the message. If the message does not bounce, it is considered delivered.
Messages that aren’t delivered because the subscribers email service rejected it are considered bounces. There are two kinds of bounces, hard and soft.
A hard bounce occurs because:
- the email address doesn’t exist
- the domain doesn’t exist
- the email service is blocking the sending domain or all email from the email service provider
A soft bounce occurs because:
- the email box is full
- the email service is down
Unsubscribes and spam reports are what they are. If you consistently get a lot each time you send, you’re going to get a call from your email service provider. Having a high number of either means you’re likely purchasing emails and not getting them organically (using forms on your site for example) and/or sending too often.
What do all these stats mean to you?
If you’re getting a high number of bounces, that obviously lowers your successful deliveries. Email services providers take issue with this and so should you. You don’t want to pay for subscribers that aren’t getting your message.
If your successful deliveries is 95% or more, you have a clean list of valid email addresses.
Dividing opens by successful deliveries gives you the open rate (%). If you’re seeing opens rates above 20-25%, you’re doing well generally speaking. Open rates vary by industry though. If you see open rates lower then your industry average, you could try the following:
- A/B test subject lines
- Change the sender name/email address
- Include preheader text
- Improve your on-boarding for new subscribers
- Change the time your send your emails and the frequency of those emails
If everything you do doesn’t change your open rate, it likely means your subscribers aren’t in your target audience.
If your email is getting opened but not getting any engagement (clicks, shares, forwards, etc.), you might try the following:
- Change the design of the entire message or parts of it
- Make the email mobile friendly
- Change the structure and layout of the content
Great content is useless if it is hard to read because of design or how it is presented. If the content isn’t getting read, it won’t get shared, or forwarded. More importantly though, call to actions will never happen either.
As highlighted in the first email in this series, email has the highest ROI of any online marketing channel, so if you have questions about email marketing or you’re not seeing results, please contact us to learn how we can help you.
If you have a question you would like me to answer in a Bonus installment to our Email Marketing Series, please complete the following form.