NTEN Webinar Roundup: Stepping Up Your E-mail Marketing, Part 4
Part 4 of the NTEN webinar series — Evaluating Your Email Marketing Efforts for Success! — featured Lauren Miller and David Leichtman, senior strategist and director of e-mail programs, and director of analytics and technology, respectively, for Blue State Digital, the firm highly recognized for its work on President Obama's campaign, sharing tips on evaluating e-mail marketing efforts.
Four years ago, e-mail was a one-way communication vehicle ,and the only thing you could do with an e-mail list was send out a "blast." The measure of success was the size of your list and how many people were opening the e-mail.
Today, it's all about action oriented, advocacy-driven e-mailing where the purpose is getting a two-way dialogue going. Organizations' e-mail efforts should have two broad goals:
- To build online communities that empower members and get them to take action. "Nonprofits are in it for the long haul," Leichtman said. "So you're trying to build an ongoing conversation that can last."
- To make online organizing accessible, measurable and repeatable.
Four ways organizations can accomplish those goals are:
- Create an ongoing conversation with members
- Use voices and personalities in e-mail
- Be timely, i.e., don't send e-mail just for the sake of sending e-mail
- Include an action so you can test
There are three steps to e-mail evaluation:
According to the presenters, segmenting your e-mail list is one of most important aspects of creating an e-mail program. This involves breaking down groups by characteristics, e.g., activity level, high-dollar donors and geography. You might want to time e-mails so that everyone in every time zone gets it at the same time. Segmenting allows you to target your ask so people feel a personal connection.
Always have a metric to measure. What is the purpose of the e-mail? If it's signing a petition, then the number of signups is your metric. If it's donations, the donation dollars you pull in are your metric.
Set goals based on past performance and what has worked before. What are you trying to accomplish? Know in advance if there are budget restrictions and if your organization needs to hit certain milestones.
Important stats to pay attention to are:
- Open rate — A good open rate varies from organization to organization. The presenters recommended doing a comparison over time with your own e-mail list to determine who your audience is and what they're interested in.
Measurement of open rates is never precise, they noted. For example, according to Leichtman, a lot of people have the automatic loading of graphics turned off, so that won't register an open, and if someone previews an e-mail in Microsoft Outlook, that will register as an open. Compare open rates of e-mail campaigns against each other.
- Clickthrough rates — The presenters said this metric is more important than open rate, as it shows, of those who opened the e-mail, who clicked through.
- Action conversions — Who clicked through and actually took action, e.g., sign a petition or make a donation? You want the conversion rate to be high. If it's not, the presenters said this could indicate that maybe text of your e-mail wasn't clear enough about what you wanted people to do, or you had a bad landing page with the action bogged down in too much text.
- Your main metric