Evaluating Campaign Efficacy: Reading the Numbers

In the first part of our look at Evaluating Campaign Efficacy, we talked about collecting and organizing report data in a way that lets you easily track changes to each metric. This week, we’re going to discuss how to interpret those changes, and what you should expect as you follow your campaign’s growth (using a selection of industry averages).

List Growth Rate

The first metric you’ll want to monitor closely is send-to-send list growth. Too often, marketers compile a healthy list and then abandon the active collection process in the hopes that their subscriber base will grow organically. Bad move. Ideally, your list will continue to grow organically, but it may not be enough to compensate for any losses you encounter as a result of permanent bounces, unsubscribes, inactivity and spam reports.

Now, you may read that and think to yourself, “How many subscribers am I actually going to lose like that?” More than you might imagine, actually. MarketingSherpas reports that some marketers with lists including more than 500 subscribers encounter a turn-over rate close to 25%. Twenty-five percent! That’s higher than the industry average, and it accounts for those subscribers abandoned over time due to lack of engagement, but it’s still something you need to be prepared to encounter.

With that, tracking list growth is immensely important to evaluating the success of your campaign. To accurately track list growth use the following formula:

  New subscribers – (unsubscribes + permanent bounces + deletions)
  Total list prior to last send

To clarify: take your total number of new subscribers and subtract all unsubscribes, permanent bounces and deletions. Divide the remainder by your total number of subscribers prior to your most recent send. That result should give you an accurate look at your send-over-send list growth.

If that number is negative, you’ll need to increase your subscriber collection efforts and take a look at the state of your newsletter. If one newsletter in particular creates a larger than average change in either direction, compare the contents, sending time, and subject line to previous sends to try and identify what could have caused the change – for better or for worse.

Open Rate vs. Click-Through Rate

Many marketing analysts place a high priority on open rates as they show you what percentage of your recipients actually took the time to read beyond the subject line. However, open rates can occasionally be misleading. The open rate for each send does show you how many subscribers took the time to actually open the email, but they don’t indicate how many people loaded and viewed all included image content. If you’re communicating a lot of information through images, you may not be reaching all of your subscribers.

A more accurate measure of subscriber engagement is actually your click-through rate (CTR). Click-throughs show that your subscribers not only digested the information you’ve included in your emails, but elected to learn more by clicking an included link. MNB’s tracking utilities do offer CTR percentage returns, but if you’d like to calculate the data yourself, simply divide total clicks by total opens. Average CTRs range from about 3-6% depending on industry, so if your numbers don’t fall within that range, you may need to address the any of the following:

    Link placement
    Number of links
    Content linked
    Calls to action
    Sending time
    Promotional value (could fall under content, but worth taking a closer look)

We should point out that a successful link (one that generates a CTR above 4%) may not be successful in every single send. If something works once, don’t automatically assume it will work in every ensuing communication. Pay close attention to the needs of your audience, and try to include material (and links) that will best serve them.

Of course, monitoring delivery, bounce and unsubscribe rates closely will keep you more tuned in to the impact of each newsletter. But, paying particularly close attention to the statistics we’ve covered above will be the most effective means of measuring efficacy. Remember to chart all metrics between sends to create a long-term picture of all changes. If it helps, put the information into a line graph so you can more easily visualize the differences between each newsletter. Ideally, growth, open and click-through rates will continue to trend upward, but if they aren’t, it’s not the end of the world. Take a close look at your practices and try to identify the problem. And, if you can’t figure out where you’ve gone wrong, reach out to our excellent support team for some extra help.