As a digital marketer, you spend hours fine-tuning email components — tweaking the creative, agonizing over subject lines, and deliberating send time.
This makes sense. Not only is email consumers’ preferred channel to receive relevant promotional content, but research shows that nearly three quarters of consumers expect to receive offers and promotions when they sign up.
However, we often overlook one key aspect of email marketing success: how do we measure it?
Here, we’ll explore how to get a holistic view of your email performance, so you can concentrate on delivering the engaging campaigns that customers deserve.
What is email attribution?
Email attribution is the art of working out whether a marketing email prompted a customer to buy a product. As a marketer, you will consider two variables when measuring email attribution:
Action: What did the customer do when they received the email?
Time frame: How long should the campaign be tracked after the email send?
While there is no “correct” way to measure email attribution, it’s worth thinking carefully about how you weigh up these variables. By placing too much emphasis on direct email clicks, you may be undervaluing the impact of your email marketing.
Why is email attribution getting harder?
Traditionally, marketers have relied on email as an easily trackable marketing channel. You can follow a customer’s actions as they open an email, click through, and make a purchase. It’s therefore tempting to rely on direct clicks to measure the impact of your email marketing.
But to get a comprehensive idea of how email is driving conversions, it's vital to take a wider view.
The modern shopper consumes content on multiple devices, often simultaneously. We are bombarded by ever more options, devices and distractions that reduce our chances of clicking through. In fact, data from the DMA’s 2017 Consumer Email Tracking Report shows that when faced with an interesting email, many customers do not take a “direct” action.
So what are shoppers doing if they aren’t clicking on your emails?
Saving information for later
Over half (59%) of consumers will save an email for later, while 54% will bear the information in mind for later use. Customers may be flagging your email to follow up, moving it into a folder to check later, or simply making a mental note to come back.
Taking an indirect action
More than one third (35%) will visit the company’s website via another route. A subject line could cause the customer to search for your brand name, or head directly to your website before even opening the email.
Converting on a different device
Customers may also receive an email on one device but shop on another. You’re familiar with the scenario: You’re browsing on your phone during the commute, but don’t have time to complete the purchase. You get a cart abandonment email on your phone. Then you buy an hour later at your desktop during lunch. You may never have clicked on the email, but it prompted you to make a purchase you otherwise would have forgotten.
While all these actions occur as a result of receiving an email, none of them will register in traditional click-based email marketing metrics.
Adapting to the customer journey
The customer journey is evolving. But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure the total impact of your emails. Here are three steps to get a fuller picture of your email marketing performance:
Consider a wider time frame
Customers are saving your emails for later, or taking indirect routes to your products. Consider this longer purchase cycle when tracking your campaigns. The action taken as a result of the email may take place hours or even days later.
There’s no absolutely correct length of time to measure your campaign. The interval will vary depending on the nature of your products and the demographic of your customers. However, you can use data from historic campaigns to establish a reasonable cut-off.
Look beyond the last click
Once you’ve established a time-frame, you can use this to look for email activity that has contributed to a sale.
When a purchase is made, look back over the given interval to check for any email clicks occurring during that period. Then check whether the customer received any automated emails in that time. This will account for many customers who were interested in the email but who did not immediately make a purchase.
Choose the right technology
Select a triggered email platform that takes the stress out of measuring your email results. Here’s what to look for when considering a solution:
Flexible reporting. Opt for a solution that allows you to decide how value is attributed to email campaigns, and over what interval.
Unified data. To get a full picture of how your multi-channel marketing efforts are performing, you need to be able to easily view email metrics in the same place as on-site marketing initiatives such as product recommendations.
Joined-up channels. When a customer receives an email, they may decide to search your brand name, or engage directly via your website. Show consistent, real-time content across devices and channels to seamlessly guide customers towards a purchase. To get a full picture of how customers are interacting with your content in the lead up to a sale, make sure you can track an individual's behavior across all channels and devices.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to measure marketing attribution. However, by supplementing traditional click-based metrics with a broader view of how customers interact with your emails, you will reduce the risk of under-valuing your email marketing efforts.
To find out how Fresh Relevance could help you maximize your return on email, speak to one of our experts.