Many email marketing campaigns focus on quantity rather than quality of communication. While improving email-marketing metrics with quantity can seem deceptively successful, improving quality will always prove to be the better solution over time. A quality newsletter will add value where your audience needs it most. Using digital email marketing analytics can help show currently weak areas of your newsletter that need to be remedied and can lead you into a thriving, higher quality newsletter that drives awareness, engagement, and revenue.
Before You Start: Tracking in Google Analytics and Site Catalyst
Every newsletter needs to be set up with tracking so that newsletter visitors are identifiable versus all other traffic. When using Google Analytics, this takes the form of link tagging. Link tagging simply means that campaign parameters are attached to the links in your newsletter, identifying campaign, medium, and source.
Within Site Catalyst, you can choose to give the newsletter either a tracking code or a campaign variable. Both of these methods identify visitors who clicked through to your content from a newsletter link, making these visitors comparable to the site average. 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane so your content must be enticing to win that click. With tracking, you can also link newsletter clicks with actions taken on site.
A helpful hint is to think carefully about the naming convention for your tracking. The better naming convention you have, the easier it will be to apply segmentation. You want to make the tracking unique for each individual newsletter issue but also generic enough that you can filter for all newsletters. For instance, the naming convention [newsletter]_[issue]_[version] allows us to identify visitors coming from a specific issue or specific version. A simple naming convention allows for flexible data organization during analysis.
Diving into Awareness
Subject lines have one of the largest impacts on open rates for your newsletter and therefore impact how much traffic your newsletter generates. It’s important to keep in mind that 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone. Subject line testing is popular but is rarely to its full potential. Strategic subject line testing involves a thorough schedule of monthly tests. When planning subject line testing, the tests should build upon each other and become increasingly more specific. For instance, a plan for six months of subject line testing could look like the following:
By the end of the 6 months, you would know a good subject line for your campaign would be: Experience Your Summer in Tucson, Arizona : )
In this subject line, we used personal (your), directive (experience), seasonal (summer), and specific (in Tucson, Arizona) wording. We also kept it short and used an emoticon. This subject line should have a high open rate and successfully drive traffic to your site.
Also, keep your testing as constant as possible. You want to keep your test as accurate as possible and not introduce other factors. For instance, it would be important to test a directive versus inquisitive subject line with two short subject lines. If your inquisitive subject line uses more words than your directive subject line, you may still be testing for short versus long, rather than directive versus inquisitive.
Cater to Your Audience to Improve Engagement
Subject lines can also have anchoring effects that influence engagement. An anchoring effect is when something experienced prior influences your future actions. For instance, if you receive a subject line with the word video in it, you are more likely to click on the video in a newsletter than if the subject line did not include video.
However, the anchoring effect can be harmful for newsletter engagement when the subject line provides an anchor with no connection in the newsletter. For instance, if the subject line includes the word video but then the newsletter does not highlight video, visitors may exit quickly. The anchoring effect works best when the subject line, main image, headline, and articles are centralized around a single theme. This helps your audience quickly engage with content.
You can also improve engagement by catering to your audience. Many newsletters fail because they are not catering to the mobile population. Smartphone users are growing each year in the United States, with 56% of the population owning a smartphone in 2013. If your audience is 60% mobile, then it is helpful to have a mobile optimized newsletter and website. If your site is not mobile optimized, 60% of your traffic is likely to bounce upon opening the newsletter. The mobile visitors have a harder time reading and clicking through to additional content. However, not every site needs to be mobile optimized. If your audience is known to be operating on desktops or tablets, then mobile optimizing your site is not an immediate need.
Increasing Revenue with Clicks
A successful newsletter should also push visitors into the purchase funnel. Creating a visitor segment helps us track the newsletter’s influence on purchasing for longer than a single visit session. Many times a visitor will be influenced by a newsletter but will come back in a later session to purchase. The newsletter content should still receive credit for helping in this purchase. When tracking is done properly at the user level, newsletter content that leads a visitor to come back and purchase can be identified and replicated.
Understanding and acting upon digital analytics can help improve your email marketing campaign. Email campaigns need not be high in number but should be high quality. A quality email campaign is more likely to add value for your audience. With added value, awareness, engagement, and revenue will follow.
Share your examples of successful email marketing campaigns that have you clicking through to the content in the comments below.