Advanced email marketing analytics.

It’s a mouthful.

And, honestly, kind of a turnoff.

I’m as “data-driven” as the next guy, but “advanced” and “analytics” in the same phrase sounds exhausting.

So let me approach this topic of “advanced email marketing analytics” from a different angle.

Have you ever felt like your email marketing is lacking a certain something?

Maybe you’ve looked at other companies with awesome email strategies. You try to reverse engineer their process, but you can’t figure it out.

You go through the motions. You create emails. You add graphics. You do what you’re supposed to do.

And you get mediocre results.

Not terrible. Just ordinary.

And you feel a little underwhelmed or bored with it.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone.

Countless other businesses feel this way about their marketing efforts.

Email marketing is often touted as “the most effective” and the “highest ROI.”

At the same time, it’s considered to be relatively easy.

It’s just email, right?

Most Effective and Difficult Email Marketing Tactics

Well, that’s the thing.

It’s not “just email.”

As I’ve researched the email marketing methods of e-commerce companies, I see a disturbing trend.

These businesses are neglecting their email analytics.

Look, I understand. Analytics can be confusing. And just getting the data you need can be frustrating. Plus, it takes time to turn those raw numbers into real-world tactics.

I get it, but email analytics is what businesses need to turn their humdrum email campaigns into door-busting sales.

Analytics and metrics hold a lot of power, but few people take the time to master them.

It’s not always easy to track down the necessary analytics and turn that raw data into concrete information that can help you improve your email marketing.

But while it’s not easy, it will reward you.

Being able to dig into your analytics will put you ahead of your competitors and kickstart your email marketing. Simply put, if you’ve wanted to do some serious, pro-level email marketing, analytics need to be your best friend.

To enhance your performance, you need to think beyond simple numbers like open rate or click-through rate.

You have to take a look at analytics that shows you specific types of information that reflect how your audience interacts with your emails.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the type of data you need to be familiar with and discuss how you can use that to step up your email marketing.

Want higher open and click-through rates? Read this

Writing email campaigns that get opened is TOUGH. To help, I’ve put together a swipe file of 60 top-performing e-commerce emails to help you write mouth-wateringly good subject lines (even if you’re not a good writer).

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Get access to our e-commerce email marketing fundle and improve your email open rate today (Stu McLaren’s is my favorite).

The psychology of the click to open rate

You know what click-through rate is, right?

Most email marketers are familiar with that. In one survey, 73% of marketers identified it as the most useful metric for measuring the performance of their email campaigns.

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While it’s helpful, it’s also fairly simplistic.

And it doesn’t tell you a whole lot more than who opened the email and who didn’t.

The open rate is another common email marketing analytic. Again, it’s fairly simple, fairly straightforward, and pretty easy to understand.

Email Open Rate Formula

But you might not be as familiar with click to open rate, commonly shortened to CTOR.

It’s one of the most important email metrics that no one is talking about.

Think of CTOR as a measurement of how engaging your content is.

It tells you what percentage of your subscribers opened your email and clicked on something within your email.

When you think about it, click-through rate and open rate don’t give you the whole story. They’re just two small aspects of any email you send out.

CTOR helps to give you that bigger picture. And more importantly, it tells you how effective the content of your email is.

That’s crucial, so let me say that again: CTOR tells you how effective your email content is.

There’s even a specific formula for it:

Click to Open Rate Formula

This formula allows for the rate to be displayed as a percentage.

The bigger that percentage is, the more engaging your content is.

That’s because CTOR is a reflection of how your subscribers behaved once they opened your email.

Did you catch that word — behave? This is where we’re starting to get into the mind of your customers.

If tons of subscribers clicked on a link in your email, that’s a good sign that they found your content interesting.

On the other hand, if you have a low CTOR, not many of your subscribers found a reason to click on anything in your email.

See why it’s so important?

Open rate tells you how effective your email subject line is, and click-through rate gives you a little feedback on your email content.

However, neither of those metrics are as holistic as CTOR.

CTOR can also help you fill in the blanks, analytically speaking. Even if a certain email has low click-through or open rates, it can still have a solid CTOR.

Click to Open Rate

This is yet another reason why CTOR is a holistic metric. If you were to judge an email based on its click-through or open rates alone, you’d miss out on some important data.

You might be wondering how you can improve your CTOR. In short, you have to improve your email content, and you have to do it the right way.

You can’t just send longer or more in-depth emails. There are a couple of factors to take into consideration.

Written content

The first factor is the actual written content of your emails. There’s a lot to think about here, even though it might sound simple.

Perhaps the most important aspect of your emails is how they’re written. If you want to get your subscribers to take actions, your emails have to be written well.

This might mean you need to brush up on your copywriting skills or see what your competitors are doing. Maybe you need to work on your calls-to-action or headlines.

What’s most important is that you’re tracking how each email performs and adjusting your writing style as you go.

If a particular email performs exceptionally well, take a look at how it was written. What about the writing was so effective? Use that information for future emails.

Of course, having a foundation of copywriting knowledge is useful.

Email Copy Checklist

When you look at your writing in tandem with your CTOR, you’ll typically find that the emails with the highest CTORs are the most compelling regarding writing.

Visual content

The second important factor is the other content in your email: images, videos, and other media.

Well-placed media can greatly improve your engagement.

Vero found that emails with images had a 42% higher click-through rate than emails without images.

Since click-through rate is directly related to CTOR, it’s probable that these emails had high CTORs as well.

Average Click Rate by Number of Images

These tips aren’t theoretical, and Weiss Attorneys at Law is a perfect example of how useful they can be.

Weiss Attorneys at Law

The St. Louis law firm increased its CTOR by 75 percent by refining their email content and design.

A few tweaks like this one helped to enhance their overall email effectiveness.

Weiss Attorneys at Law Call-to-Action

Why did they make changes like this? And why did their success metrics shoot up?

Because they were digging into their numbers, listening to their audience, and getting in the head of their target market.

To sum it up, use your CTOR in conjunction with your click-through and open rates to gauge how engaging your emails are.

Since your CTOR helps you understand what your subscribers are responding to, you’ll be able to give them more of what they enjoy.

Understand demographic segmentation

Most marketers know a thing or two about demographics.

While demographics itself is limited to a couple of handfuls of data types, there are some creative ways to use them in your email strategy.

For example, have you tried segmenting your audience using demographics?

It’s a simple idea, but it’s underused by most marketers.

We’re fans, and there are some genius ways to do it for e-commerce email marketing.

A lot of email marketers don’t stop to think about the psychology behind demographic segmentation. There’s not just as much cold, hard data at work.

The way each segment behaves and interacts with your emails can tell you a lot about your audience. You’ll also get to know your subscribers better, and that means you can send better emails.

Demographics are great for segmentation because they give you conclusive metrics to use, and these metrics are more comprehensive than arbitrary segments.

Let’s first look at arbitrary segments.

A popular method among email marketers is to segment their lists using the signup source. In other words, they’ll create separate segments for each signup box they have.

So if Subscriber A signs up on a website and Subscriber B signs up on Facebook, they’ll get put into different segments.

Segment Emails Subscribers by Signup Source

This type of segmentation is decent, but it lacks much depth.

If you use this system, you’ll only have a shallow understanding of your customers.

That’s where demographics come in. They can help you gain a more thorough knowledge of your subscribers, and you can also send out targeted emails to specific micro-audiences.

For example, you can create a segment that has all of your subscribers who have no college education. You might create separate segments for different age groups.

You can get specific with your demographics:

Audience Demographics for MarketingArtFully.com

Here’s a more thorough list of possible demographic features:

Possible Demographics

While you don’t have to use all of these, you’ll be able to get super narrow with your segments if you do.

Imagine having a segment with all of your subscribers who are female, 30-34 years old, and have a college degree.

Knowing that much information will allow you to create emails that will appeal most to that segment.

You’ll also get a better idea of your average user. In fact, that’s one of the largest benefits to segmenting your audience.

Let’s say you own an organic snack company. You’d think that emailing about your snacks would be the best approach, but using segments, you can refine how you talk about the snacks.

Consider this chart:

Demographics

Subscriber A is interested in menu planning and cooking, so she probably wouldn’t like an email that just sings the praises of your snacks.

Instead, you could send out a healthy recipe that includes or complements your snacks. Subscriber A would be much more likely to open and click on this email.

On the other hand, Subscriber B likes quick, convenient food options. So an email saying your products are perfect for on-the-go snackers would resonate with her.

If you don’t segment, you’re forced to create general emails that try to appeal to everybody.

If you do segment, your emails will feel more personalized. Your subscribers will feel more connection to your content, and they’re more likely to convert.

Seth Godin has a great quote on this:

Seth Godin Quote

Segmentation allows you to do all three of those things. By creating specific emails, your email content will naturally become more personal and more relevant.

You’ll be able to easily create emails like this one that reflect the interests of a particular segment.

Personalized Email Marketing

If this is sounding daunting, don’t worry. You don’t have to create super narrow segments right from the start.

Simple segments can also work well. Take t-shirt company Johnny Cupcakes for example.

Johnny Cupcakes

They increased their conversion rate by 123% just by segmenting their emails into male and female groups.

Simple? Yes.

Effective? Heck yes.

Their other metrics also skyrocketed. Click-through rates went up 42%, and revenue per campaign increased by 141%.

The company was able to get all of these incredible results just from making one email segment.

And a simple one:  Male and female segmentation

Suffice it to say that if you’re not segmenting, you’re missing out.

If you do start out with simple segments, use them as branching off points to create more segments in the future. While simple segments are useful, they’re not as useful as more detailed groups.

Remember, the more segments you have, the better you can understand each segment, which will help you create better emails for all of your subscribers.

Measure engagement and conversion with lifecycle marketing

There’s a lot more personalization today than ever before.

Some companies are going so far as to create custom emails for individual customers.

It sounds crazy, but that’s the idea behind lifecycle email marketing.

The mantra often repeated with lifecycle strategies is “delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time.”

For email, that means reaching your subscriber with the right message at the appropriate point in the customer lifecycle (hence the name).

Lifecycle Emails

The best part? Lifecycle emails tend to increase engagement and ultimately conversions, two metrics you can easily track to analyze your progress.

The first step to great lifecycle email marketing is to decide when you’re going to communicate with your subscribers.

I’m not talking about the famed time-of-day or day-of-week studies.

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of figuring out exactly what day and time to send your emails.

Email Opens by Day of Week

But guess what? The day and time of your email campaign matter less than the point at which the customer is in the buyer’s journey.

Here’s a visual example of how Holistic Email Marketing structures lifecycle emails:

LifeCycle Communication

As you can see, the structure is specific and detailed. Certain emails are scheduled to reach the subscriber during a certain point in time.

Each email is sensitive to where the subscriber is in their customer journey.

Simple example. If a subscriber has already bought something, he or she will get birthday/anniversary and loyalty emails.

But a subscriber who hasn’t converted yet will get a different email.

Simple, but crucial.

The lifecycle email structure has a lot of data driving it. It relies on the customer journey through the sales funnel.

The Buyer's Journey

Source: HubSpot

Someone who learned about your company yesterday shouldn’t be getting all of the same emails as a five-time return customer.

Simple, right? Okay, let’s take it up a notch.

The second step to lifecycle marketing is to create emails that are designed to reach one customer at a very specific moment, and this is where it gets somewhat complex.

This will build on the ideas of segmentations I talked about earlier.

Good segmentation is crucial to creating lifecycle emails that convert.

Why? Well, the more specific you can get, the better you’ll be able to read your subscribers’ minds.

It helps to think about this in relation to a specific customer.

Typically, companies construct a fictional customer called a buyer persona.

If you haven’t created a buyer persona for your business, I highly recommend it.

It might be something like this — simple and to the point.

Buyer Persona

Take all of your demographic data, analyze it, and create a customer bio that reflects the data on average.

This persona is often representative of a larger group. In our case, that group is an email list segment.

So imagine you’re the owner of that snack company from before, and this is your persona for one of your segments.

Demographics and Interests

If you create an email specifically for this pretend person, that email will perform excellently for the segment that this persona represents.

In this example, you might create an ad that features a picture of some of your snacks alongside a cup of coffee.

Black-Sheep-Coffee

You get the idea—address the persona’s interests. By extension, you’ll be addressing the interests of your entire segment.

But that’s not all. You also have to think about where the customer is in the funnel.

Let’s continue with the same persona and say he’s in the consideration stage (shown in the buyer journey graphic above).

Since he’s subscribed to your list, you know he’s interested, and your job is to convince him that your products are for him.

Putting all of the pieces together, for this scenario you’d create an email that addresses his interests and is designed to convince him to buy your product.

Then you’d send that email out to your segment. If everything went well, your email should have a high CTOR.

Lifecycle emails are extremely effective in today’s market because the reader feels as if the email was written only for him or her.

And in many cases, your emails may coincide with what your subscriber is thinking.

Look at it from an individual perspective.

Let’s say you need a colored t-shirt. You want to buy one online in January. And you wanted to purchase for a good cause. Oh, and you also wanted a good price.

Then you got this email.

What would you do?

Non-Profit T-Shirt Sale

You’d probably buy the shirt.

That’s exactly the subscribers in your segments will feel when they get your lifecycle emails.

It’ll be a no-brainer for them to take the action you want them to take.

You could follow in the footsteps of apparel store The Kewl Shop, which increased its monthly revenue by 22% in a year using lifecycle emails.

The Kewl Shop

This strategy takes some preparation and dedication. The Kewl Shop has a 50-email sequence for existing customers.

That’s a lot of prep work and planning.

The-Kewl-Shop-Automation

But the results speak for themselves.

This is the kind of up front commitment that gets big-time results down the road.

Want higher open and click-through rates? Read this

Writing email campaigns that get opened is TOUGH. To help, I’ve put together a swipe file of 60 top-performing e-commerce emails to help you write mouth-wateringly good subject lines (even if you’re not a good writer).

Free Downloadable Bonus
Get access to our e-commerce email marketing fundle and improve your email open rate today (Stu McLaren’s is my favorite).

Don’t be afraid of email marketing analytics

Maybe analytics seem scary to you, and that’s perfectly okay.

But if you take the time to master your analytics, you can get familiar with your customers and give them exactly what they want.

You won’t have to do any guesswork. The analytics will spell it out for you.

It might take some time, but it’s worth it.

Your content will improve, your customers will be happier, and your metrics will look a heck of a lot better.

How do you feel about advanced email marketing analytics? Leave a comment below.

Emil Kristensen
Emil is the CMO and co-founder of Sleeknote. When he’s not busy with writing awesome content and building the Sleeknote brand, he spends his time reading and watching vlogs on YouTube (big fan Gary V). Fun fact: between the co-founders he is the fencing champ.

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