From Dashboards to Contact Lists: Making Metrics Count

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

While the origins of the above quote is still debatable (whether it came from Albert Einstein himself or someone else), its meaning is quite clear and it’s profoundly true in many situations including modern email marketing campaigns. As email marketers, we try to measure things in our projects by using metrics, but that’s only part of the difficult process. From our campaign dashboards to our email marketing contact lists, we have to make our metrics count, not just count them.

We rely on metrics and analytics to give us snapshots of our campaign and its components, but we’re still the ones who have to interpret, filter, and act on the picture they provide. Our campaign dashboards can only tell us how fast we’re going, how far we’ve gone, or if there’s still gas left in our campaign; it’s our task to steer the whole thing to where we want it to go as well as decide how to get there.

In addition, not all the numbers that flash on our campaign dashboards can be useful in every given time and situation. That’s why it’s also part of our jobs to know which figures to focus on during specific phases of our email campaigns. If we, for example, wanted to test how well we’ve maintained the hygiene of our targeted email leads database, we only need to consider metrics related to list quality like deliverability stats and blur out the rest.

To help you make those metrics really count, here are five valuable pieces of advice from someone who knows a thing or two about analytics in email marketing. These lessons are from Loren McDonald, VP Industry Relations down at Silverpop, who says in order to go “beyond benchmarks” and optimize your email campaigns, you need to:

1. Broaden your metrics horizon.

The typical email marketer usually only looks at the so-called “process metrics” which include open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, etc. But, to really get a more accurate picture of your campaigns, you also need to consider “output” metrics such as revenue generated, leads acquired, order volume, etc.

2. Aim to beat benchmarks.

One of the most important ideas from Loren McDonald is that being average isn’t enough. That’s why you have to strive to surpass industry averages and other relevant benchmarks. Benchmarks are useful in setting up your goals, but you shouldn’t be limited to merely attaining these levels; you have to go over and above.

3. Know & address weaknesses.

Metrics help you determine problem areas in your campaign, but they never offer ready-made solutions. As such, if you find specific issues in your project, you have to be prepared not only to find a solution to these concerns but to commit needed resources to increase the likelihood of getting them fixed.

4. Have a strategic perspective.

A lot of email marketers are highly susceptible of falling into the trapdoor of focusing too much on minute details and losing sight of the overall bigger picture. Always have a broader and longer-term view of your project and focus on details that support or affect the bigger issues.

5. Test, tweak, & track.

We’ve already repeatedly stressed out the idea of the 3 T’s of email marketing in previous blog entries, but it’s still worth mentioning this concept again to really hammer the point home in this post. Take a systematic approach at evaluating, adjusting, and monitoring your email marketing efforts and let your metrics be your guide in this pursuit.

Do you also have lessons about email campaign metrics you’d like to share?