Here’s How to Define Your Email Marketing Goals

Posted on: 05-22-2017
email mktg

Every week there is a new article claiming that email is dead, or a new collaboration platform professing to be the killer of email as a communications medium.

But to date, none of that has happened. In fact, email marketing remains among the most profitable, highest return on investment channel for reaching your audience, even Millennials.

According to eMarketer, a survey conducted just last year with marketers from the United States showed that the median ROI for email was 122%. That’s four times higher than the ROI of the next highest rating tactic, social media, which weighed in at a paltry 28%.

It’s undeniable that email is a valuable marketing tool. But how valuable? Is it getting you the results that you’re looking for? Are the members of your email list taking the actions that you want them to?

If you’re like many companies today, you don’t know. While 76% of companies say they believe that measurement is important, only 29% say they think they are doing it well.

It isn’t enough to just look at metrics like Click Thru and Bounce Rate. To understand what those numbers mean for your business you need to set goals for your email campaigns and give those goals a target. You need to define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

What are KPIs?

KPIs are a measurement that can help a company define if its tactics and strategies are meeting the goals that they have defined. To be truly effective, KPIs should be practical, quantifiable, directional, and actionable. In other words, they should be:

-          Practical: goals that are reasonable to expect you’ll achieve

-          Quantifiable: you should be able to assign them a number

-          Directional: they should tell you if you’re going in the right direction

-          Actionable: the results help you determine what your next steps should be

When it comes to email, it’s tempting to look at the numbers that are easily available to you and call those your KPIs. Email campaign platforms can all provide you with information like open rates, clicks, bounces, and so forth. You could say that you want more clicks, or you want to increase your open rate. But those might not be good measures for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Simply recording those numbers and noting if they go up or down isn’t good enough to be a KPI.

How do You Define Email Campaign KPIs?

The way to define your KPIs is to start by defining your goals. What is it that you want your audience to do with the message they receive?

For instance, if you send out an email campaign where the call-to-action is to click on a link and go to your site, then click thru rate is absolutely the right metric.

On the other hand, if your goal for the email is to get your list to follow you on Twitter, or like your company on Facebook, then the metric that you want to use is completely outside of your email provider’s reporting. In these cases, you’ll need to know your number of followers before and after the campaign to understand the success. You could have a 100% open rate, but not gain a single Twitter follower. If that’s the case, your campaign failed, but your open rate would make it look like an unmitigated success.

So where do you come up with the quantifiable values to use for your KPIs? You can look at benchmarks for your industry, and you can look at historical data from your own campaigns.

Obviously, benchmark data isn’t going to give you much to go on, but if you have nothing, it’s a start. If you haven’t done many, or any, email marketing, benchmark data will help you understand where your open and click thru rates should be. Initially, this will be actionable information for you, as you work to dial in the right content, frequency, and layout for your emails.

Far more valuable in helping you define your KPIs is your own historical campaign data. Using this data, you can look at the metrics from campaigns with similar goals to determine what your quantifiable goals should be.

If you are creating a campaign unlike any you’ve done before, and there are no reasonable benchmarks to use, then set a reasonable KPI, one that you suspect, from the metrics that you do have, that you’ll likely hit.

For instance, if your click-thru rate has never gone above 28%, and you’re trying out a new campaign, don’t set an open rate KPI of 80%. Better to set one within range of a similar campaign – say, 35%? – and then use the data from that campaign to help you understand how to improve on that number going forward.

Email marketing can be a valuable tool in your marketing tool chest. But without setting goals and KPIs, you’ll never know its true value for your organization, or how you can increase its worth. Define your KPIs based on your goals, not on the numbers you can easily access. And most of all, make sure that your using numbers that are relevant to your success, based on past performance.

Ready to set up your email marketing campaign? Contact us today at or call 818-995-8127.

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