One of the benefits of email marketing is the tracking and reporting available to see how people are interacting with the messages sent. This includes basic email metrics as well as click-stream reporting on post-email activity on the Website, where the conversion usually occurs.
So it always concerns me when I work with consulting clients that don’t leverage this data to their advantage. Sometimes it’s an institutional failure to properly track and report. But too often it’s an individual’s lack of comfort or even interest in the data that is holding them back.
“I’m just not a numbers person” isn’t an acceptable excuse. Being a ‘numbers person’ should be a prerequisite for any job that involves developing email marketing strategy or tactics. That means being as comfortable with spreadsheets and data as you are with copy and design – and knowing how to use the data to drive creative changes for testing that will have an impact on the bottom line.
Case in point: an ‘all hands’ client call I was on a while back regarding conversion rates on an ongoing campaign that weren’t high enough to meet internal goals. Attendees included key people in the marketing department as well as the entire creative team.
All the attendees had the best intentions. But the discussion consisted of people throwing out, willy-nilly, ideas for addressing the problem. No data was presented or discussed before the brainstorming began.
We should test subject lines. We should change the email template. We should make the calls-to-action larger. We should include more calls-to-action. We should segment the list and target the content more. We should add more links to the email. We should include fewer links in the email. We should send more frequently. We should send less frequently. It went on and on.
Certainly, with the laundry list of things presented, the answer to the problem was there. But which approach or combined approaches would actually improve conversion rates?
Data is the key to understanding how people are interacting with your campaigns – what factors increase the likelihood of a conversion and where you’re losing those that don’t convert. Any discussion of how to improve performance needs to begin with a detailed look at the data; otherwise, you’re just wasting time.
Case in point: A campaign where the data told me that people who watched a certain video on the Website, after clicking-through from the email, were more likely to convert. We made that video more prominent on the landing page; the conversion rate increased. It’s not rocket science; but before the detailed data analysis, it’s not a tactic that was even being considered.
It’s possible to have a level of success as an email marketer without being a ‘numbers’ person. But if you’re looking to be a great email marketer, you need to hone your quantitative skills and your ability to use the data to identify qualitative changes that will boost bottom line performance.