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So What? Analyzing Your Email Marketing Performance

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on how to measure and analyze your marketing performance. We walk through what KPIs to focus on, how to tell if your list is in good shape, and how email works on your marketing mix. Catch the replay here:

So What? Analyzing Your Email Marketing Performance

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • What email KPIs to measure and which metrics don’t matter
  • What measures are endangered by upcoming privacy changes
  • How to analyze your email list performance to understand your audience better

Upcoming Episodes:

  • 9/9/2021 Gmail Postmaster Tools: An Introduction for Email Marketers
  • 9/16/2021 So What? Lessons Learned from a Year of Weekly Livestreams

Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:25
Well, hey, Happy Thursday, everyone, technically, I thought yesterday was Thursday. So today should be Friday. So I’m all kinds of throw off, throw it off. But as far as I know, today’s Thursday, and this is so what the marketing analytics and insights live show, joined by Chris and John. This week, we are talking about analyzing your email marketing performance. We love talking about email, Chris has an extensive background in email marketing, I believe it’s maybe your favorite marketing channel, if I could say so. An email is one of those channels we talk about a lot, because it’s one of the channels that you whole heartedly own. as a marketer, you have control over it, you can do what you want with it. And so today, we are talking about email KPIs to measure which metrics don’t matter. We’re talking about measures, what measures are endangered by upcoming privacy changes, this is a big deal. And then how to analyze your email list performance to understand your audience better. And I’ll just sort of make the the broad statement that email marketing is a complex thing. There’s a lot that goes into it. But I think we’re specifically focusing on measurement today. So Chris, John, email marketing performance,

Christopher Penn 1:40
it is indeed, a couple of warnings upfront with email marketing. A lot of the decisions people try to make are contingent upon what you do. So if you’re trying to figure out like what the best day to send email is, and you send your emails on Tuesdays, and you look at your data, Tuesday will always be the best email because there’s that there’s a bias in the data. So just be aware of that as anytime you work with email data, and frankly, any marketing data, there is always that danger that your activities do distort what’s going on. Now, I want to start today by talking about analyzing the data in email marketing, to try and get some understanding about its effectiveness, its impact and stuff. But one of the prerequisites that you’ll probably want to have is access to either really good data exports from email marketing software, or the underlying database itself. So here at Trust Insights, for example, we use an open source package called Mautic is the marketing automation software, that we actually run the server that this thing runs on. And so for us to get the raw data, literally just log into the server and do a bunch of things. Now really good providers, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, like Hubspot, and other you know, top tier vendors will give you an API, do your data or actually just let you access the database itself, lower tier providers, typically, they don’t necessarily let you have as much access. So some of the things that we’ll talk about today will apply to everyone. Some things apply to people who can get at the raw data itself.

Katie Robbert 3:25
Well, it sounds like when you’re evaluating provider, at the very least, there should be an option to export some of the data into a CSV file.

Christopher Penn 3:35
Ideally, I mean, that that’s true all marketing technology, if there’s isn’t an export to CSV button, they they they want to keep your data in and your money, so maybe, maybe not choose them. So let’s start off first, Katie, what do you really want to know, as a senior executive? What do you really want to know about email marketing?

Katie Robbert 3:56
Um, I want to know, a couple of things. What I really want to know is, you know, is our email newsletter any good? And so I’ll bet you know, that’s a statement that’s been sent to marketers. And then as a marketer, you’re like, Well, what does that mean? Is it mean number of opens? Does it mean subscribers? Does it mean engagement? And I want to know all of it. But if I really had to prioritize, I want to know, um, I guess first and foremost, you know, the engagement rate. And so to me, that is the number of people who not only got it, but the number of people who did something with it, who interacted with it. And I also want to know, like, does it lead us to get any leads in the pipeline?

Christopher Penn 4:42
that latter part typically is the part where I think a lot of people who focus on email marketing, forget about because we get focused on all the buttons in our software. And we’re like, what does this actually do? So, number one thing for everybody to do? Go into your Google Analytics account. All right, and go to let’s go to audience here. And if you don’t already have a segment set up for email marketing, let’s, let’s create one. So let’s create a new segment. And we’re gonna do conditions. And I want to look at a source or medium that contains things like, actually, let’s do a regular expression, do male, right, and email, and Gmail, and Hotmail, and so on and so forth. We’re trying to just get at what traffic is identified this, or we also want to do the same thing for campaigns. So if we’ve got campaign data, I’m going to copy that exact same thing, because sometimes, you’ll come in as like sfmc as a source, and it may or may not have email. So just call this email marketing. But hit save. And this is basic performance metric. Number one, is your email marketing, or email marketing efforts. Sending anybody to your website, like forget about everything else, if you can’t even get people to your website, from your email newsletter, or your email marketing efforts, it’s probably not working. Right? So if we look at, let’s go back to say, January one, look at the year to date. So far, it’s been an interesting year. And let’s look at monthly. And so we can see that, yeah, email marketing is sending people to our website. So this is this is pretty good thing. I would, I would say that, at least in terms of effectiveness, it’s, it’s up there. Let’s add in organic search just as a just as a side by side. And there’s organic search. Interestingly, for us, at least, as of sort of the middle of the year, email has sort of displaced search as as a as a traffic driver. So for us, it’s really important, right? So as a as an executive, you can now look at this and go Hmm, we were doing good email. But we probably want to talk about our SEO as

Katie Robbert 7:19
well. But when I look at this, it makes sense. Because I know, I have that insider knowledge of what we focus on at Trust Insights. And you know, it’s no big secret that, you know, we’re a small company and email is our consistently focused on marketing channel. So I’m I would be surprised if email wasn’t the top driver of traffic, because it is the one thing we consistently do week over week over week, and work to improve upon, whereas Yeah, we do snooze a little bit on the other channels.

Christopher Penn 7:51
Yep, so that’s metric number one. That’s what I was saying. That’s KPI. Number one. If your email marketing can’t even send people to your website, don’t worry about open rate and click rate, you’ve got a pretty serious problem. metric. Number two, Katie is exactly what you said, which is, is it actually doing anything for us, I’m gonna go to conversions, go to assisted conversions, not crank up the look back window to 90 days get the biggest possible view. And then just gonna look down here, switch this default channel grouping. And look at the channels by assisted conversions or by last touch conversions. Just to get a sense of what are the channels what order the channels in, hey, email is a our top converting channel both in assists, and in and last touches. So this is a channel it’s really, really working for us. If we want to get really fancy, and you have Google Analytics set up Google X for setup, I should say, let’s go to our advertising session, which is poorly named. And go into our model comparison. On the right spot. Now I do go to conversion paths, I’m going to go to time decay, which is the model we like. And now I can see at the beginning of the funnel, the middle of the funnel at the end of the funnel, email all the way through is is what’s moving people through. So this would be my second KPI is how much is email driving conversions. And then where in the funnel is it.

Katie Robbert 9:29
It’s interesting. And so you know, and this is a little bit of a side note. So for us email is the channel that we focus on the most, which also makes it the most vulnerable. if something changes, if we, you know, suddenly become unable to provide our email newsletter week over week or if something changes with the server or whatever the thing might be. So it’s while it’s great that it’s working. It’s not great that we’re so over indexed on email and That’s, you know, the biggest takeaway from this is like, Yay, email is working. Oh crap, it’s super vulnerable.

Christopher Penn 10:07
It is, is, if we go to an even more advanced attribution model, we can see just how much so this is the the attribution model we build with our own software. And we can see here that email marketing represents 70% of our conversions.

Katie Robbert 10:25
Which is great, because it’s the channel we have the most control over, but also terrifying if I don’t know Chris, I mean, I love to use this example, let’s say you decide to go off to the middle of nowhere ensuring butter forever, and you go off the grid, by by email newsletter.

John Wall 10:46
It’s there’s definitely risk with that. The one thing though, is it is a lot better than we read a similar report for the marketing over coffee list. And I saw it was, you know, 60%, organic Google. And so I’m beholden to Mountain View, which is even less control, there’s a lot more chance of taking a beating from that, at least so at least it’s in relative terms, it’s better to have all the eggs in that basket.

Christopher Penn 11:08
Exactly. So one of the reasons that we started the show talking about why you probably want to have access to the underlying data is that a lot of email software out there doesn’t have the best UI for doing analysis, because it’s really the tools are focused on sending email, they’re not focused on on business intelligence. And so doing an analysis of your email marketing can be a little bit tricky. So one of the things I would suggest doing is, like Katie said, at the beginning of the show, make sure that there’s a CSV Export button, like everywhere, or just a massive push this button to dump your data out. So I’m gonna switch over here to Tableau software, I’ve taken exactly what was on that screen that we just saw, and just brought it into tableau. So I’m gonna bring up our emails by subject, we’re going to look at the number of people time number times each email husband read. And then the number of times each email has gotten, click on it, and we can see some of the individual subject lines that are in here. Now, one of the things that people do the most wrong, when it comes to analyzing email, is they immediately go in and say, Okay, well, it’s, it’s clearly got to be, you know, the creative, like our layouts terrible, or it’s not attractive, our calls to action, the button wasn’t big enough for the logo wasn’t big enough. And it’s actually most of the time the reverse the problem. There’s a framework, Bob stone, coined in 1968, called the direct marketing framework, which applies really well to email. He said, there’s three things in order that matter for direct marketing list, offer creative, have you got the right people, have you got the right offer for them, and then is the creative good. And you do it in that order. Because if you got the wrong crowd, it doesn’t matter what you send them, they ain’t gonna buy anything. Right? If you got the wrong offer, right crowd but the wrong offer, they’re still not gonna buy anything. And then, you know, everyone spends all the time monkeying with the creative when in fact, that’s probably the least impactful thing. So when we go in to look at, like, our emails, by clicks and subject line stuff, that’s actually the wrong place to start.

Katie Robbert 13:26
So, you know, it’s interesting, because we’ve we’ve tried to evaluate an audit our own email newsletter, you know, I’ve I’ve made no, you know, a bones about the fact that I think ours is, it’s too long as too much, but I don’t have a solution. I don’t have the fix, because I don’t have the data to say, this is what it should look like instead. So if someone is sort of in this position, and they’re trying to evaluate what’s working with their newsletter, you know, where do they start to figure that out? Is that is that a whole different, you know, episode? Are these metrics that they should be looking at?

Christopher Penn 14:05
No, that’s actually that’s exactly the heart of it is is that list offer creative hierarchy, the first thing you want to do, you want to rule things out, kind of like, you know, doing a medical diagnosis or detective work, you want to rule things out until what you’re left with, you know, you can trust. So the first thing you’d want to do is put it put the, you know, the clicks and stuff down and look at the the subscribers, right? Try to figure out like, do we have the right people? So let’s go ahead and I’m going to, what I’ve done is I’ve did some prep work before the show to anonymize our email database because you just don’t want to flash a whole bunch of email and people’s email on screen live streams. That’s not very nice. And I got to put in just their IDs, and just a count of how much email they have read. Right. And so what we’re getting at here is, you know, the, these are people. We’ve sent 40 emails so far. are in 20 2021? That’s what, that’s what year this is. Yes, yes. And what we want to get senses out of our list of like 22,000 people from this year? What what percentage that list is reading? Right? So I’m going to probably break Tableau here by trying to visualize the entire thing. Oh, look, it didn’t blow up on me. And so we can see here it just eyeballing it roughly, you got to throw that, that fat head, you know, these are the folks who are like the super loyal folks, though, you know, this person here, Id 1212, you’ve read 13 out of the 40 emails, whoever you are at 1212. Thank you, for your support. start going down here into into the suburbs. Once you get away from that, yeah, here is it 2027 it is only read five of our emails this year. And then, you know, you get down here into the zero. So Id 183502. What are you doing?

Katie Robbert 16:02
Well, so I have a question about the scripts, because what you haven’t told me is, you know, when these people became subscribers, and so that person who’s read zero emails, maybe they subscribe today, and haven’t seen anything. And so that, to me, is something you would need to add context for.

Christopher Penn 16:25
That’s a very good point. One of the things that’s not in here, because it would require a database join it would be to get the when they signed up date. So figure out like, how long have you been enrolled, but at the very least, one up, I can pivot this without blowing Tableau up, I can. At the very least, you’ve got sort of power locker, you’ve got your your big head and you get the long tail. In this case, this actually isn’t too bad. This is reasonably healthy when when you get around, so the middle of the pack and that people are still reading email of any kind. That’s not bad. So there’s that 50% Mark, from my own newsletter, the almost timely newsletter, is it’s a much taller front head, but it’s a it’s a it’s a much thinner tail, there’s more there’s there’s like a really, two camps is the hardcore LilZ. And then there’s everybody who almost never reads anything. So this is pretty healthy, all things considered, which I’m really happy about because it means that the list fundamentally is in a pretty healthy place.

Katie Robbert 17:28
So go ahead, John.

John Wall 17:33
Oh, no, it was Chris.

Katie Robbert 17:34
Oh, sorry, I can’t tell you two apart anymore. I’m kidding. What interesting is like what this doesn’t tell me is that’s great that they’re breeding it. But if you if we go back to that question you asked me is like as the executive, this doesn’t mean that we’re selling anything, which at the end of the day is the thing that I’m responsible for is the money. And so it’s great that it’s driving awareness, but does it do anything?

Christopher Penn 18:07
Right. And that’s where, again, going back to our Google Analytics data in aggregate, we can say like, yes, there’s at least we’re at least feeding the pipeline with it at a greater rate, substantially greater rate than other channels, right. So we know pretty well, like this is our top converting channel. Now, could it be better? Absolutely. It can always be better. But at the very least, we know that the list seems to be reasonably healthy. And from our attribution modeling, we know that this is the top channel, that’s driving performance. The next thing we might want to do is get a sense of Okay, well, who are these people? can we can we make any determination about that? And the answer there, unsurprisingly is yes. What we want to do, though, is look at by domain, who are those people, right? So of the opens we’ve gotten this year, the vast majority, by far, is coming from Gmail addresses from Gmail accounts. And this is something that you get for a lot of B2B marketers. They’ll be like, Oh, my God, you guys are idiots. We’re not idiots. I promise that at least that much, one of the things that we do depends on the day. One of the things that we do that goes against the the normal best practice, is we allow people to sign up with their Gmail address or their Yeah, just to do our emails. Why? Because the workforce has churned probably close to 50%. In the last 18 months, we care more about staying in touch with the person as they move job to job than than necessarily knowing what company they’re from. And so we’re okay with this. There. Other people have the opposite perspective. But this tells me a couple of things. One, Gmail is by far the most important provider. So from an email marketing strategy perspective, our reputation with Gmail has to be stellar, right If we get if enough people hit that Marcus spam button in Gmail, we’re going to our email performance could drop off dramatically. to John’s point earlier, when you think about, you know, algorithms that could change the thing that could endanger your results. So far, we’ve been people reporting as a spam in Gmail. So that’s one of the reasons why we have like, big bright red unsubscribes. Like, because we don’t want people taking the easier course and simply hitting market spam to make it go out of their inbox, we want them to, to us are really easy to find unsubscribe?

Katie Robbert 20:32
Well, you know, it’s, it strikes me as well, but companies that don’t allow people to sign up with their Gmail or personal email address, that’s a huge missed opportunity, because think about people who are contractors. And so a lot of the workforce has transitioned into contract positions, a lot of companies have transitioned into only hiring contractors to save on costs. And so that means that a lot of people who want to get this information, they don’t have a work email address that they would feel comfortable using, because it’s, you know, a borrowed or they’re contracting for this, it’s not a permanent thing. So I would also say it’s just, it’s a missed opportunity, if you’re forcing people to sign up with a work email address, because a lot of people won’t be able to use it.

Christopher Penn 21:20
Exactly. Now, the other thing that stands out here is that you have some organizations, some individual companies and organizations that you’re seeing a lot of people clicking on stuff, because this is all by domain. Now, this is not by individual person. So we see our friends here at Talkwalker, high 316, clicks our friends over, Convince & Convert 125 clicks high. And if you spend time looking through this, you can get a sense of Oh, who are these people? Where are they from? Like, here’s one, you know, I don’t know who that is, I don’t know, I don’t know what school that is. But it’s one of those things that might be worth investigating, like, looking into the PII part, which we’re not going to show to see like, is that a teacher? Do we show up in somebody’s course, and so on and so forth. That’d be you know, good things, particularly if you’ve got a book coming out. There’s nothing quite so awesome as having a professor assign your textbook to a, you know, a 100 level course and like 800 people buy it all at once. Okay, so we’ve looked so far to get a sense of Okay, what, what’s happening with with the list itself? Is the list fundamentally, you know, reasonably healthy. I would say, I’d venture to say, based on the metrics we’ve looked at so far, that Yeah, we’re in a reasonably healthy state. Could it be better, of course, but is it is it you know, if it was much sharper drop off, I’d be worried that we’ve got a lot of dead weight on the list. I don’t, we don’t see a ton of dead weight here.

Katie Robbert 22:59
So Chris, this is all the metrics that you get out of the system itself. But there are other third party tools that you can pay for that can give you information like, you know, people’s titles, or you know, their position, roles, positions, companies, if that’s not provided. And that’s not what we’re covering here. But I just wanted to make sort of the point that there are services out there that you can pay for that can help fill in those gaps.

Christopher Penn 23:26
Yep. If you want to secret tips, Hubspot does it for free, you just load your contacts into Hubspot CRM, and AutoAI pensive for free and then you address the API and extract the data. And then you’ll have to pay 10 cents an email for that day append. Sorry, Hubspot.

Katie Robbert 23:41
You just made that sound super easy. I’m sure it’s not that straightforward.

Christopher Penn 23:44
It actually is, is. Okay, so that’s the list. The one other thing that you should look at your list. And we’re not going to do today, because it’s a royal pain in the butt to try and extract the data and visualize it without throwing PII everywhere is your unsubscribe rate. Right? How fast are you training is how fast is your list departing. And for us? I ran the numbers. So we’ve had 22,000 people in aggregate on our list so far this year, but 4000 have churned out right. So we have our current subscriber base is around 18,000. So we’ve lost 4000 people along the way. When I look at them, they are predominantly corporate email addresses. Right? So it’s people changing jobs. It’s not people saying, I never want to hear from you. Again. It is predominantly corporate addresses. So again, one of those other things where don’t lock people into using a corporate email address, because the moment they change jobs, you’ve lost touch with them. So our list feels like it’s in pretty good shape. So now the next step in our hierarchy is the offer. The offer for an email is the subject line right when it appears in your inbox. It is essentially a one line ad, right? It’s like a pay per click ad, you’ve opened up your Gmail inbox, your webmail or whatever. And you have all these emails with people and subject lines. Every single one of those things is an offer. And so the question then is, are your offers any good? Right? Does? what’s what’s sort of is the the pattern if there is a pattern that would tell you like, yeah, this. Some of our offers are great. Some of our offers weren’t. So I’ve visualized here, just pretty simply our subject lines, right, and then the the the number of reads on them. Now, there’s two things that are skewing the slightly. The first thing that’s skewing it is that is this is an absolute count. This is not a percentage count. And the reason for that is because he’s working out the system, and I didn’t have time to do the computation. But the larger your list is, over time, hopefully your list is growing, then the more recent email should be doing better. But what we see here is that we changed our newsletter branding a few months ago, to inbox insights from in the headlines. And you can see scrolling down through that, that is doing pretty well is a little bit more attention getting, we also see things like our blatant sales pitch, right? That actually did pretty decently. We’ve got another blatant sales pitch, a little further down here. We’ve got a survey. So all these things are getting read. So these offers. And one of the questions that we always ask ourselves is, are we sending too much promotional email? based on the fact that, you know, we’ve got our blatant offers, let’s resort this by subject here. We’ve got I want to order this by subject only. There we go. And let’s put a median line on here. On read count, all of our blatant sales pitches are higher than the median. So I’d say it’s actually probably safe to do not only promotional ones, but probably send a couple more.

Katie Robbert 27:11
Well, and you know, it’s something we’ve talked about just internally amongst the three of us is that we don’t send a lot of sales emails. And so within our newsletter we might have here is an advertisement for something. But it’s not the main point of the email itself. It’s something that’s contained within the newsletter, but what the user is getting is a lot of other information about things that we’re doing things that we’re reading things that we think they should know about. We send I could probably count on one hand, the number of actual sales pitch emails that we’ve sent so far this year. It’s probably I’m guessing. Yeah, it’s like, good, I have three fingers. So yeah, but that’s it. We don’t do a lot of it. And I think that we try to be, you know, protective of our audience in that way that that’s not what they signed up for. They didn’t sign up for us to be constantly pitching them. So when we do, we want to let them know, Hey, this is what we’re doing. You know, you can ignore this thing.

Christopher Penn 28:15
Exactly. So we can see, at least from the reads, The the read count for now, is a good way to benchmark like what kinds of things like here’s, here’s another sales pitch of ours again, above the medium. So generally speaking, is fairly safe to say, we should, we could and probably should send more promotional sales pitches. So if you’re subscribed to the, newsletter list, you’re getting a sales pitch soon. But the read number four now is sort of your proxy for how good is your offer, because if nobody thinks the offer isn’t good, they’re not going to read the email. Now. Here’s what this is going to change. Once. Apple Mail rolls out in iOS 15 and Mac OS, Monterrey. Anybody using Apple Mail is going to have a 100% open rate. Because what Apple is doing is saying we’re going to protect user privacy by essentially prefetching. The email as soon as it reaches a mailbox is managed by Apple Mail. That can be Gmail, Hotmail, anything your Apple mail client is tied to, it’s going to prefetch to an iCloud server, and then it will send that to the Apple mail client when the user wants it. It will also prefetch all the links, it will prefer, it’ll prefetch all the images. So this is going to do a few things. One, your open rate data for anybody using Apple Mail, which is 50% of the market is going to be completely hosed. So you won’t be able to use open rates anymore as a proxy for how interested somebody is. So the key takeaway here is do this kind of analysis that we’re doing here with reads now with your data now, before this privacy change takes place because after It takes place your your opening, it’s going to be all over the board and none of them will be correct. And the second thing to think about is you’ll have to do stuff like AV testing, using clicks, instead of opens, because it won’t pre click on everything, it will prefetch images in these emails to make sure there’s there’s nothing bad IN THE END block tracking pixels. So that’s coming, I think in the next one or two quarters. So very strongly advise you to do all this analysis extracted data now, take a snapshot, like download all the data you have in your system and archive it somewhere. So you have it as a historical reference before this privacy change takes place.

Katie Robbert 30:41
What do you mean by prefetch? Because you keep saying it, prefetch. It. So basically, before the user even opens the email, the system, the server is pulling all the information to scan it to make sure it’s valid, not spammy. So it’s the system is basically saying, I’ve read it already. So you don’t have to worry about it.

Christopher Penn 31:06
Exactly. It also means it’s going to screw up things like, for example, best data, send an email, right? Because the open time will be the moment you send it, because Apple servers will open it immediately. Right? You can send that email to him. And it’ll have like 100%, open rate for Apple Mail users because the server’s read it and you won’t know when person actually read that thing. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so so so important that you have Google Analytics set up, and good UTM tracking codes in your emails, because you’ll still be able to see when the user clicks on a link from your newsletter and goes to your website, right, that’ll be the probably the most reliable way to do things like oh, overtime optimization, because you won’t know from the opens themselves because this for 50% of your list. And because Apple Mail can be used with multiple systems, including corporate email systems, it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to just be you know, dot Mac or dot iCloud addresses, anybody who’s using Apple Mail for, you know, Gmail, etc, and things like that. So that’s the offer. That’s the second thing to diagnose. You can use reads, Yes, question.

Katie Robbert 32:17
So what we’re talking about organic email, but that does raise a question for me that maybe we can answer in another forum. But what does that do for paid email? Does that drive up your ad costs? Does it you know, change your, you know, return on adspend metrics? If you’re getting that 100%? That prefetch? information? If that’s what the system is doing? Like, how much does that screw with your paid email?

Christopher Penn 32:46
It depends on how you’re paying. So like, if you’re doing performance marketing, where you pay only for a certain number of clicks a certain number of leads, you’ll be fine. If you’re paying for opens and eyeballs. Essentially, your bills are going to explode. Because Oh look, you know, 100,000 people read your your your email this month, and you’re like, actually, five people did, but Apple reference to them, or the vendor is going to have to say, yeah, we’re going to pivot to some other metric, because you can’t trust open rates on paid emails anymore. Again, the best thing that you can possibly do is use UTM tracking codes in Google Analytics, or, you know, the analytics software of your choice doesn’t have to be Google’s, whatever you’re using, use that with your email tracking codes in the URLs themselves, because that’s something that is not going to be affected. And you will know that if people came to your website from an email, but yeah, paid emails. If you’re paying for, you know, tonnage by the eyeballs. Either somebody’s gonna say, you know, the unscrupulous marker is gonna say, like, Oh, yeah, we got an 86% open rate on this list, you’re gonna pay $10,000 to send to this list. And the artist was like, yeah, we have absolutely no idea what the open rate is.

Katie Robbert 33:55
Fair enough.

Christopher Penn 33:58
So list, it helps if you look at the, how many people are opening emails, your offer, if you’re looking at the opens, and then the creative, you can judge by the clicks, right? Because if your design is terrible, and nobody can find anything, then it’s pretty obvious that you’re probably not going to get a whole bunch of people clicking on stuff. On the other hand, if you’ve got good design, or at least a manageable design, you’ll get some clicks out of it. And if you’re running an email newsletter is informative, where so it’s not just your stuff all the time, then you’re going to be sending clicks to a lot of different sources, not just one. So what we’ve got here when we when we sort this is interesting, our click rate or clicks on our newsletters is a little different than our than our reads. Right. So the inbox insights, there’s only three of those issues that are showing up for for lots of clicks. And then it’s a lot of the in the headlight stuff. So that you know that makes me He scratched my head go, Hmm, well know what happened there. Now, again, depending on the provider, you may be able to get the click ratios. Click ratios are, can be really, really tricky, particularly if they are, depend on the open rate are the software we’re using uses click ratio to send, I believe, so it’s a little bit more reliable. So I sort by that, again, still, we don’t have a lot of inbox insights. In here, we have a lot more in the headlights, and it’s not like ancient, it’s like, you know, 2020 stuff. So it’s, it’s not like it’s from a long time ago. So that makes me wonder, I wonder if our newer, more graphic heavy design is actually not as good as the kludgy old, even longer newsletter that we used to send, like our newsletters be almost twice as long as it is now. And we’re not getting the clicks or the quick ratio from it. So I’m wondering if our creative needs some work?

Katie Robbert 36:01
Um, I would vote for not a longer newsletter. I don’t have the data to back No, no. What what my question, though, is, so when you’re saying click, so this is anything within the newsletter that someone interacts with? And that includes the unsubscribe, correct? That’s correct. So I think what we would need to do, because I’m, like, 99.9%, confident that every single link in our newsletter is coded in some way that we can differentiate the links. So I would start there is like, what are the things that people are clicking on? if, you know, we’re not getting as many clicks? Because people aren’t unsubscribing just as an example, hypothetically, then that’s a good thing. But that’s, we would want to know what what it is that people are clicking on within those newsletters that have the higher click rates.

Christopher Penn 36:59
Yep. And again, that was that’s one of the things where, again, if you have access to the underlying data, I did not pull it here. Because that is like a two day project, you can actually pull out every single link in the database that’s been clicked on and analyze, you know, what kind of link it is, and things like that, that is possible if you own the data itself. But yeah, we should certainly we can sort of take a look at. And you can do that somewhat. Anecdotally, if you go into your email stats, you can, you can take a look at, oops, I broke that. You can see like one of the most clicked on links within any given issue, you’ll see, you know, different stories, our slack group, etc. are the unsubscribe unsubscribe actions and get too many in this issue. So you can you can definitely pull out individual link by link to see what’s going on. But extracting that from every single issue or sent would be a slightly more challenging thing. Really interesting comment, by the way, I think from David, saying that good email marketers use the lack of opens over a period of time as a signal, stop sending emails to those customers, that is a good point. If your marketing automation system has nurture campaigns that are contingent on email opens, you’re going to be moving people through the pipeline that may not necessarily be qualified, because apples opening the emails for you, and maybe sending false signals to your marketing on your nurture campaign. So you will probably want to change nurture campaigns to clicks as opposed to opens. You know, another

John Wall 38:27
thing I was thinking about with that, with the previous report, though, is the click to send ratio, because the list has been growing at a decent rate. So won’t that bias the older stuff when the list size was smaller?

Christopher Penn 38:42
It would it wouldn’t click is the click ratio would not click to send because that should remain as a percentage, right? So if you have more people clicking and you have more people on the list that it should march in relative lockstep,

John Wall 38:54
and those are the that’s the percentage rate, okay, it’s not raw.

Katie Robbert 38:59
I, you know, it’s, again, I sort of go back to I would need to look at those individual issues, because it may be the issue where, you know, Chris rolled out his new book, so everybody’s clicking to download it, or it may be the issue where we’re replaying, you know, one of our webinars or talks or something like that. So I think, you know, there’s a lot of dependencies. And, you know, those are things that just, if you’re looking at all of the data together, you want to make sure that you’re digging into each of those individual components. Just making decisions on those Tableau charts isn’t good enough.

Christopher Penn 39:38
Exactly. One other thing I would say, again, I can’t emphasize enough the UTM tracking codes are your friend. So I’m going to change this in Google Analytics here, away from default channel grouping into campaign. And this will sort of rearrange the funnel and now you can see if you’re, if you’re using UTM tracking codes, well, you can see the individual issue so like we date, we change our tracking codes. Every single issue of all the emails to see what issue it is. So here’s inbox insights. Right? This is the August 18. issue. Here’s the almost timely newsletters August 22 newsletter, so you can go in and see what individual issues of your email newsletter are nudging people through different stages in the funnel. And from a content perspective, that’s super powerful to be able to say, Oh, this is, you know, this issue really did a lot a lot for us, or that issue, really, you know, didn’t really help us out very much. So let’s say that is a super, super important thing to do is to make sure those UTM tracking codes are set up properly.

Katie Robbert 40:40
Well, and for us, it’s helpful because we made the decision about two months ago, to change who was offering the cold open. And so the content itself has changed quite significantly, there’s still the insider data insights, if you subscribe, you can get those pieces, but the cold open has changed. And so as the person who’s writing it, I would want to know, is the content that I’m writing then detrimental to the subscriber base, and they’re subscribing at a faster rate, they’re, it’s not doing as much as it was when Chris was writing it, for example. And so we would have to say, okay, so Katie can’t write that anymore. Chris hasta can take over writing and again, just know, but as an example, you know, if I only have us as an example, in another company, it might be a different case where it’s like, we’re only ever going to publish content in our newsletter about blue walls. But people really, really want pink walls, or whatever the thing is, like, it doesn’t matter, what you need to do is look and say, like, Is it working. And the best way to do that, Chris, to your point is to make sure every single issue has those tracking codes, so that you can differentiate it when you’re looking at it, you know, in any one of the numerous charts that you show.

Christopher Penn 41:55
Exactly. So we covered a lot of ground today. But the fundamentals, Google Analytics, or the webinar, software of your choice, should be sort of the gold standard measurement of the performance of your email, because it’s people who’ve gone from the email to your property. And so you can see those individuals who have made that transition that’s going to have I will tell you in advance, that’s going to have some uncomfortable moments, because it’s always gonna be less than the number of clicks that you know your email marketing software reports. But with that, you can then start doing funnel visualization stuff right within Google Analytics, Data Studio, or whatever you want for that. So make sure that you’re using those tracking codes, please. When it comes to diagnosing your email list for what’s wrong, start with the list, then look up the offer, then look at the creative, please do not assume the creative as a problem from the get go and start rearranging the deck furniture on that Titanic as it were. And now, today, it’s like today is what September 2, right? It is a great day to get anything that is reliant on open rate, because upcoming privacy changes are going to cause all kinds of heartache for marketers, as new privacy regulations and things rollout and new privacy technologies rolled out. And finally, if you’re using email marketing software that does not allow you to export your data, it’s time to change vendors.

Katie Robbert 43:29
It just it strikes me as interesting. There’s so many metrics that you can look at with your email. And it always brings me back to the so what you know. So you would ask me at the top of the show, like what metrics do I care about? And as we’re going through it, I’m thinking like, yeah, some of these metrics are nice to know. But can I make a decision with it? Can I make a change with it? And so the open rate, yeah, that’s it’s good to know. But what am I going to do with that? Can I affect that? The answer’s yes. But do is that a priority for me? Or do I care more about other things? And so I think that, you know, as you’re going through your email marketing metrics, going back to those persona statements of as a CEO, I want to understand if my email newsletter is leading to leads in the pipeline, so that I can do more of it.

Christopher Penn 44:23
Exactly. And I would say, you know, when we go back to our attribution model, the answer to there is emails probably okay, for right now, we need to give some love to something else to get some more balance, some more diversity in our marketing mix, because to the point at the very top of the show, we are a little on the heavy side, a lot on the heavy side on one channel, and it is a risk that we definitely want to diversify. So I would say, for us, email is is healthy enough that we can divert some focus and resource to We Don’t be all in on email all the time, if your attribution models over show that, you know, you’ve like 1/10 of 1% of your traffic or conversions from email, it might be time to move some resources to dig into that, particularly if you’re seeing diminishing returns on other channels.

Katie Robbert 45:16
Great. You’re gonna do all of these things with your email newsletter now. Right?

John Wall 45:21
Right. It will be huge anyway. I had a couple questions come in via text, John blue and Jim B. Were both asking about open rates, and you totally nailed those. But there was one question asking just about list size, is there any minimum for you, as far as how big your list is? Where you, you know, below a certain point, you don’t really care about the stats? Like, is there a number where you need to hit before everything starts to get statistically relevant? Um,

Christopher Penn 45:48
the main thing with lists is not the size of it, but how fast it’s growing or not growing, right? So a list that is flat or slightly declining all the time as a problem, right? It means that you’re, you’re not getting a natural growth, and one of the things that that’s actually can be a content problem, right? If your email isn’t good enough to get somebody to forward it to a friend, like, Oh, you should read this, you know, and get people to sign up that way. You’ve got a growth problem, you’ve got it, you probably got a content problem, your your content is probably not very good. And so I would be looking more growth rate over time than I would be list size. I mean, yeah, if you have 10 people on your list, you probably don’t need a whole lot of fancy analytics, like you could literally ask all 10 people, Hey, how’s it going? But for the most part, that the growth numbers are really important.

John Wall 46:37
To do the other, there was one question to about in Gmail, and this is something I know Seth Godin still complains to this day about the fact that they had that transition, where promotional emails went into its own tab, is there anything new on the front of trying to staff that tab,

Christopher Penn 46:53
that comes down to the same thing, you see people saying all the time, and you know, just add us to your address book, or whatever. So that gets moved to the inbox, that still works. Also, there are behave Google, no surprise, has huge numbers of behavioral metrics at its disposal to be able to say like, okay, we see people are doing x, right. And so if everybody you know, leaves your email unread, and you’re in their inboxes, probably not, you know, a great email. If people are hitting mark as spam, and you’re on email, that’s a really negative signal that you need to fix immediately, because it’s a huge, huge problem. One of the things that you should definitely be doing if you’re not already, is using g mails, postmaster tools, right? postMessage was is a free service from Gmail. And it tells you basically, what Google is seeing, like how many people reported your email as spam, right, so our rate here is 0.4, its highest. So this is really healthy. Google sort of, okay, limit is 1%. Google’s we’re gonna just outright block he was 5%. So they’re saying like, if you get above 5%, we’re gonna we’re gonna whip Yeah. And so our, you know, over the last 120 days, our rates are very, very good. There’s seven different areas to look at in here. And this is probably its own show, to dig into what each of all these different buttons and features do. But you definitely want to be looking at stuff like your reputation, like this is our domains reputation Trust Insights. And it’s, it shows that, you know, we’re we have a good reputation, that reputation controls which tab you in, you end up in, right. So if you’re if your reputation is crap, you can end up in all sorts of, you know, suburbs you don’t want to be and same is true for all these different things. They’re all just measures that Google looks at, but you’ve got to stay out of the the danger zones. And again, if you’re an email marketer, and you’ve done the analysis on your list of queries showing where we saw all those email addresses, postmaster tools is a place we have to be looking at at least once a month to go, oh, what do we do? Oh, something went wrong there. You got to do it. Sounds good. All right. Well, I guess then we will head on out and we’ll talk to folks next week. Thanks for tuning in. And we’ll see you next time. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more. Check out the Trust Insights podcast at Trust slash t AI podcast, and a weekly email newsletter at Trust slash newsletter. got questions about what you saw in today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at Trust slash analytics pro marketers. See you next time.

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