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Email marketing is the communication glue within your digital marketing and all of this communication is trackable. 

Tracking gives you the ability to understand the journey between the message and the call to action, which means that you can give this journey a value. 

With this in mind, reviewing success or failure is critical so that you can affect the change in your campaigns and the actual value those campaigns are bringing.

I sell an email marketing system and work with 1,300 clients who are all doing email marketing. In my time in this role one of the most common questions I have been asked is “can we do a trial?” 

My stock answer to this question is 'what you are trialling?' and 'How will you measure success and failure..?' (Insert uncomfortable silence). 

We are in the silly season; January is knocking at our doors bringing you the opportunity to review last year’s results and the impact email marketing has had on your business objectives.  But how do you go about this?

Ask yourself..

Start by asking yourself simple questions. What were your goals last year? What was the call to action  on your campaigns? What were you looking to achieve? What were your overall marketing objectives and how did email slot into this?

Don’t overcomplicate your strategy. Whether it is to think mobile, engage your key influencers or increase your database reach, give it a goal, a value or a KPI so that you can measure your performance against it.

How do you measure the value of testing?

The reason marketers fear testing is that they learn more from their failings than they do from their successes, this means that marketers have to try things and that might not work.   

Your day to day marketing activity should generally be working and testing rocks that boat. Trying to convince a Marketing Director to not do what usually works and to try something that could get you a better result is a risk and many marketers are understandably risk averse.

So be honest with yourself. How many times did you test the variables in your campaigns? If you are not testing subject lines for instance, then you are missing out on opportunity. 

Test subject lines, pull back your opens and see how that affects your opens and clicks.    

For example:

This is a selection of subject lines from one of my favourite brands no added sugar. All the alt text looks the same, the descriptor never changes and there are no step changes in the type of subject line.

I have purchased from this company, yet there is no personalisation. I assume no added sugar wants improved results from September to November; however the above does not demonstrate a testing schedule or results impacting future campaigns.

Understanding your reporting

If all you look at within your reporting is open and click through rates, then you are missing out on some important metrics.

Look at opens and clicks and heat maps and device date and timelines and GA and revenue tracking (if you have it available to you) - I am overusing the word “AND” to illustrate a point.

  • Mobile. Don’t just send out a responsive email, consider the call to action and what you are asking them to do. Why not send two campaigns and serialise them?
  • Opens. No one will ever convince me that a higher open rate will not impact clicks; however consider the call to actions, content and the impact of click and opens.
  • Click. Email marketing is all about clicks.  I am sure that Amazon don’t focus on opens, but clicks to conversion is probably a board level discussion.
  • Heatmaps. Marketers work in silo, this mean that campaigns often get confused; be clear of what you are asking and have creative that is built around that segment and call to action.
  • Revenue. Email is always about conversion, if you can get that from a basket then do. Understand the value of the channel even if it is just making better decisions about how you resource and invest in it.
  • Google Analytics. Use post click analytics and review GA, email metrics and conversion in the same session. If you do, you will produce better campaigns than you did the week before.

My three golden rules

  1. Have an annual strategy. Measure success against this 12 month goal that will fit within your overall marketing strategy.
  2. Benchmark quarterly or cyclical activity, then you can look at four sets of data when reviewing against your 12 month goal.
  3. Be agile, if it does not work, move on.  I am uncomfortable using horse analogies in light of this year’s scandal, but if your horse is dead then don’t flog it (or make lasagne out of it).
Lucy Wilsdon

Published 5 December, 2013 by Lucy Wilsdon

Lucy Wilsdon is Head of Enterprise Sales at Pure360 and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (4)


Darren Hepburn

Great article Lucy, especially regarding subject lines.

almost 3 years ago


Claire Holden

Great advice Lucy. We shoudl all be getting 2 things from each and every campaign we send - ROI and knowledge.

almost 3 years ago

Ajay Prasad

Ajay Prasad, Founder & CEO at GMR WEB TEAM

Hi Lucy,
Great information shared by you for the people who is the engaged in email marketing. Your rules and advice are very valuable.

almost 3 years ago


Michael Neuendorff, President at The Growth Coach

Plain and simple. I must start testing Subject Lines! Thanks for the important reminder. Being a lazy marketer gets you average or worse results. I heard an audio interview recently from a top copywriter. He said that to make a million dollars from a campaign he'll write 75 - 100 headlines. It's worth the time and the ones that don't make it are used in all manner of other ways, which compounds the value of the exercise.

over 2 years ago

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