What You Need To Know About Evaluating Your Email Campaign

Ed Burghard“Are you too busy for improvement? Frequently, I am rebuffed by people who say they are too busy and have no time for such activities. I make it a point to respond by telling people, look, you’ll stop being busy either when you die or when the company goes bankrupt.”

Shigeo Shingo

I have been working hard to figure out how to optimize my push email campaign.

It is a tactic in my communication plan that I am not really happy with.  I often find though that I am my own worse critic.  So instead of beating myself up too badly, I thought I would collect benchmark data on how well my email campaign is actually doing and to get insight into when the best day of the week might be to send email.

My Campaign Performance To Date

First, let me give you a sense for the performance statistics of my email campaign.  I use MailChimp as my service provider.  I think it is a great platform and super simple to use for email communication to opt-in lists.

My worst performing wave of email registered an open rate of 9.8% with my best delivering 37.2% (mean = 27%; mode = 26.7%).  My best performing wave based on click through rate (CTR) delivered 12.4% and my worst was 0.9% (mean = 5.8%; mode = 4.3%).

Benchmark Assessment

Based on a review of benchmark data available on the Internet, I may have set my expectations too high.  I found two sites that actually listed open and CTR rates (rather than simply providing a graphical representation of the data).  The GetResponse.com website shared average response rates from 17% to 20% depending on the day the email was sent.  In an Adweek article, the response rates ranged from 9% to 17%; again depending on the day of the week.  My campaign average of 27% looks pretty respectable compared to these data sources.  Looking at CTR, Get Response reported rates ranged from 4.2% to 4.7% and Adweek’s reported numbers ranged from 2.5% to 2.9%.  My campaign average of 5.8% was respectable in comparison.

Obviously, based on this benchmark analysis my email campaign is performing very well.  But, I am never satisfied and still felt a compelling desire to find some way to make it work even harder.

It’s Not In Me To Give Up – There Must Be A Way To Improve

The research introduced a new question I hadn’t been thinking about – What day of the week makes the most sense to send email?  If I sent my email on the optimal day, maybe the opening and CTR performance improve markedly.  But what day of the week would that be?

I discovered there are two ways to try and answer that question.  The first is to determine which day delivers the best open and CTR rates.  The second is simply to take a look what everybody else is doing and identify which day has the highest email traffic.

As it turns out, these are not completely unrelated ways of trying to answer the question.

Based on what I could find, Tuesday and Thursday tended to be the two days that delivered the best combined open rate and CTR.  The data on volume suggested sending email on Monday might be worth a look, presumably to capitalize on a longer tail effect.  I also learned that you should expect around 24% of the opens your campaign will achieve to happen within the first hour of sending.  After the fourth hour the incremental opens drop dramatically.

Looking at the timing of my email campaign, 35% of waves were sent on a Monday and 17% on a Thursday.  The remaining 48% were scattered throughout the week, but less than 1% were sent on Tuesday.

Ah Ha!!  The data suggest I could be more disciplined in selecting the day of the week to send email.  I finally found an opportunity to try and improve the performance of my push email communication.  So from this day forward, if you have subscribed to the Strengthening Brand America Project you can expect to see an email from me on either Monday or Tuesday of each week.  If there is any validity in the data, then the rate of opens and the CTR should noticeably improve for my campaign.

Discussion

I wanted to share my journey of determining how to improve my push email campaign as a way to illustrate how you can bring data to the table to help optimize your promotional effort.  I didn’t invest a lot of time and money to get the data I needed to better understand what others have learned about effective email campaigns.  But, by adopting a paradigm of continual improvement and collecting data on past performance, I was able to identify a practical action step that should result in better results.

Feel free to use the data I collected as a benchmark to evaluate your push email campaign performance.  Hopefully, it will save you some analytical time.

I would be remiss if I didn’t advise you the best time to send push email is when you have something relevant and important to share.  If the content is fluff, it doesn’t matter what day of the week or which time of the day you send email.  And, if you build a reputation for sending useless information, you will find your email will be largely ignored (open rate and CTR will be well below normal and trending down).  So content is the #1 place to look for improving your push email campaign.  But, once you are convinced you have great content, then picking the right day of the week to send your email can be helpful to your final results.

What has your experience been with push email?  Do you have other resources for benchmarking performance than the ones I identified?  I am still not satisfied with the performance of my push email campaign regardless of the relative benchmark data I saw.  If you have any suggestions on how I might improve my email to make it either more valuable or perform better, please leave a comment.  If you haven’t subscribed to receive email from me, simply visit the www.strengtheningbrandamerica.com website and you’ll be given an opportunity to subscribe.  You can opt-out at any time and your information is not shared with anybody.

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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5 Comments so far

  1. […]   […]

  2. Tom Wengler

    December 16, 2013

    Ed, this is a very interesting article. We have a tool that takes tracking beyond opt in’s. We can see when contacts not only open the email but we can also see the individual’s corresponding web traffic.

    We can see ongoing site visits and what pages / how long a contact stays on each page. So, if a prospect returns to the site in 62 days, we’ll capture that and alert the right person at the economic development agency to evaluate the traffic and respond appropriately.

    This give our clients the ability to determine, at the individual level, Timing, Interest, and Motive (you can see what a specific individual is most interested in and respond accordingly).

    A bit spooky? Yes…. but highly effective and very inexpensive to implement

  3. Paul Newman

    December 16, 2013

    Here are a few keys. Day of the week… hint Everybody loves Friday’s, the subject line can kill an email or make it a shinning star, avoiding the 100 key words that are sure to land your info in the spam folder and having multiple links embedded in the content can help draw more click through.

  4. Verne Morland

    December 17, 2013

    Hi, Ed,

    As you and I have discussed before, I get close to a 100% open rate on my marketing email messages. That’s because every email I send on a 1:1 or 1:few basis is a marketing email.

    When I am corresponding with customers, prospects, or business partners I use my Digital Stationery® which has my company logo, marketing slogan, and links to my website at the *top* of the message (not at the bottom in a signature). The stationery gives a professional impression and reinforces my brand and my private Link Activity Report tells me how many of my correspondents have clicked through to the main pages of my website. (Full disclosure: I own the company, but our customers in 35 states and 8 foreign countries agree with me.)

    When you add up all the email messages that company leaders and their sales and customer service personnel send every day – and which are always opened by their recipients – it amazes me that this opportunity for “email marketing” is so consistently overlooked.

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    October 12, 2014

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