Arguably, email marketing gives you the opportunity to control your message, reach and success more than any other type of new media marketing (including search and social media.) You can try new ideas, easily get feedback and access customer data to find out what drives your current and future customers.

However, marketers should learn how to interpret the data available to them in order to use the results as solid information to improve the campaign.
Interpret Your Email Analytics

The first step is to decide what analytic data is important to you in your email marketing. – and learn what they mean.  Some of the most common analytic categories are bounce rate, open rate, click through, and conversion rate.

Bounce Rate – This data point includes soft bounce and hard bounce. Soft bounce rate tells you how many emails were returned because of errors on the user end, like server errors or a full inbox. Hard bounce means there may be something wrong with your email list or specific emails.

Of the two, hard bounce rate is more likely to hurt your campaign because it will happen consistently – and a list that has a high bounce rate has the potential to be listed for spam. Use this analytic measure to determine how many customers are actually getting your email, and clean up the list if your hard bounce rate is high.

Open Rate – The open rate is simply the number or percentage of your list subscribers who opened the email. Most email marketing campaign open rates are tracked using a tiny invisible pixel image that, when loaded, counts as an open. Open rate is a email marketing analytics buzzword, and can give you insight into your campaign response, but it can also be misleading.

Some email clients block images, and if the images aren’t loaded, the email isn’t counted as opened. Open rate doesn’t account for text-only or smartphone messages. Use this analytic measure to get an idea of the open rate success, but this analytic data point should be viewed as only part of the whole picture.

Click Through Rate – This data point will tell you how many people click from your email to your website landing page. The click through rate is one of the best ways to determine the success of your campaign and is also one of the easiest things to manipulate and tweak to improve.

Click through rate is determined by placing a link in your email campaign to a specific landing page, which you’ll need to use every time for consistency.

Some email marketing companies provide click through rates as part of email tracking, but you can use your own data by setting a campaign tracking link as your landing page and culling the data from Google Analytics.

As you’re determining content, consider placing links in different areas in each subsequent email and comparing them to see which had the highest rates. Use this data to determine the best use of content and placement for maximum click through from your customers.

Conversion Rate – Conversion rate is the bread and butter of email marketing data, and where you’ll see the most results and be able to determine ROI. Conversion rate is the next step after click through rate, when your email consumers actually take the next step to purchase products on your website or contact your company for services.

Click through rate and conversion rate go hand-in-hand because one feeds into the other – a low conversion rate after a high click-through rate can indicate a problem. Use this to determine  your ROI.

Guest Post: Robert Woodford has been an email marketing expert for more than 15 years. When not writing about email, you can find Robert writing freelance stories for companies like ReachMail. Click here to visit their site.