Not long ago, I was reading a great post by my colleague Ben Fettes on the importance of understanding email metrics, how they're calculated, and how they can help a marketer not only to identify, isolate, and tackle potential issues in their marketing funnel — but also develop optimization strategies to create and deliver more relevant experiences to their customers.
Let’s go beyond the metrics and talk about the importance of planning analytics from the start, to help you measure the success of your eDM (electronic direct mail) campaign or program.
The expectations placed on marketers have increased exponentially in the past few years. In addition to their traditional roles as brand strategists and interpreters of consumer behavior, modern marketers need to be data savvy and ROI accountable.
Unfortunately in the race to manage more channels, more technology, and more competition, too many marketers are skipping the very step that would help them to demonstrate success — analytics planning.
Setting up your analytics after a campaign launch is like trying to drive down the freeway using your rearview mirror. If left as an afterthought, reporting campaign results becomes a time consuming and imprecise exercise that may not stand up to the scrutiny of your leadership.
The bottom line is that we live in a data-driven world and analytics is the game changer. Having a plan on how you’re going to measure success before you ship your next campaign is a must.
How to Plan Your Analytics Before Sending Campaigns out the Door
Make it part of your campaign planning process.
Ask the right questions at the beginning so you have the answers at the end. It may sound simplistic, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here is a five-step framework that can help you incorporate analytics to your planning phase, so you can measure success at the end:
1. Always Start by Setting Your Objective(s)
It's as simple as that. Objectives will help you make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve, how you’re going to achieve and measure, and why that’s important to your organization. To make it all a little clearer, let’s assume you’re running a re-engagement program with the end goal of reactivating inactive subscribers. A good objective would be:
Reactivate or recover 20% of the inactive group by the end of the re-engagement program. That’s going to be measured by a number of inactive customers that open or click any eDM within the program. By reactivating this group, assuming an average order value of $X, the program should deliver a revenue uplift of $X.
2. Define Your Data Model
Now that you set your objective(s), it’s critical to make sure you have the data you need in order to report the success of your campaign or program. If you don’t have the data, you won’t be able to report back to your business that the investment made will deliver positive ROI. The good news is, you can start small and refine it as you become more sophisticated in your segmentation and targeting strategies. Going back to the re-engagement program, in order to report on whether you achieved the objective set, you’ll need to be able to identify and flag the inactive group prior to shipping your campaign out of the door.
3. Define the Metrics & KPIs
Objective(s) set and data in hands, it’s time to write down your KPIs and metrics that will help determine whether or not you achieved what you set out to achieve. Staying with your re-engagement program, if your objective will be measured by % of the inactive group that engage with the program, you’ll need to keep an eye on the number of unique opens or unique clicks that your program received.
For example, if you know that your inactive group size equals 30,000 subscribers, and you’re aiming to recover 20% of that, you’ll need to have 6,000 unique opens or clicks by the end of the program. It’s important to remember to remove them from the program once engagement occurs (to avoid any double counting).
4. Develop a Reporting Plan (Align Reports x Stakeholders)
This point could be a post on its own. A common problem many organizations have is not planning their reporting requirements in advance, so they end up with a long list of unused reports that don’t help different stakeholders when making faster and more effective decisions. Or even worse, they don’t plan their reporting at all, and they only realized their mistake after the fact, which is too late to answer many business questions.
Bringing it back to our example once again, different stakeholders within your organization would want to know different things about the program. For the CMO, a high level program performance report showing a number of customers reactivated x target, and program ROI should be top of mind. For the Program Manager, however, a more granular level report showing metric performance trends, the ability to slice and dice data by eDM, time of deployment, campaign heat maps, etc. will help not only to report on overall success of the program, but also generate insights that will help build a program optimization plan. But that’s for another post.
5. Don’t Forget to Capture Your Learnings
Last but not least, you need to make sure you have a framework that can help you capture learnings gained throughout the process, so you can use those learnings and optimize your efforts next time for post campaigns or program deployment. If you’re not recording what you did right or wrong, it will be hard to determine what’s next, hence you may be stuck with the same ideas.
If you're hoping that your analytics planning will have a happy ending check out the Email Deliverability Guide. In order to recover 20% of the inactive group, you'll need to be equipped with best practices, international regulations, proven strategies, and more. You can find it all in the guide below: