Talk tracking to me: Secrets of e-mail marketing

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By Jeff Spokes, TruePresence

The beauty of e-mail marketing – and Internet marketing in general – is that it is the most trackable advertising medium on the planet. In a relative instant you can tell what's working, what isn't, and adjust your e-mail copy, creative, and offers accordingly. But as anyone who's ever wondered what a soft bounce is can tell you, e-mail tracking comes with a language all its own. To help you learn the language, here are the key e-mail marketing metrics you need to know before your next campaign goes out.

E-mails Delivered:

The number of messages that were accepted by the recipients' servers. Unfortunately, this number won't tell you if the e-mail made it past corporate or secondary filters, but it is nevertheless a good measure of your e-mail list's "cleanliness." And since most e-mail service providers (ESPs) charge by volume, it's best to keep your list in tip-top shape.


The number of attempted sends that could not be delivered – and another good way to tell if your list needs further scrubbing. A hard bounce is an e-mail that is permanently undeliverable due to address or domain errors. Scrap those addresses from your list if your ESP doesn't automatically do so. A soft bounce is an e-mail that is temporarily undeliverable due to reasons like a full mailbox or an inactive account. These addresses may still be valid to your list, and you may even want to try resending your e-mail to those addresses a few days later.



The number of subscribers who asked to be removed from your e-mail list. Some ESPs, like True-mailer, automatically remove unsubscribers from your e-mail lists. If your ESP does not, make sure you manually remove them immediately – or else run the risk of permanently damaging your customer relationship. If you're manually removing unsubscribers, also be sure to check back on this stat a few days after your campaign, as people may not unsubscribe immediately.


E-mails Opened:

Finally – a metric to get excited about! This measures the number of subscribers who opened your e-mail, which is half the battle in e-mail marketing. The open rate is also the best means of measuring the effectiveness of your subject line. If you're not already testing subject lines, try this simple test for your next campaign: send out two identical e-mails to two different test groups – but use a different subject line on each – and see which subject line generates the highest open rate. Do this type of testing repeatedly, and you'll begin to gauge what kind of messaging resonates with your target audience.


Clicks or Click-Throughs:

This one's a biggie. It measures the number of subscribers who clicked on a link within your e-mail. In other words, how many people found something in your e-mail that compelled them to take an action? Often, clicks can be measured in greater detail – which subscribers clicked on which links, and then what actions they took from there. Pay close attention to these details; they'll tell you what's triggering the purchasing decisions in your customer base.

Now that you understand e-mail tracking a little better, your next step is to define the objectives for your e-mail campaign. Do you want to drive repeat sales? Increase site traffic? Or simply build your brand awareness? Once you've laid out clear objectives, you can identify the key metrics that are most important for you. Happy tracking.

About the author

Jeff Spokes is the Owner of the Baltimore office of TruePresence. TruePresence is a national internet marketing company with an emphasis on helping clients Find, Get and Keep customers through an effective Online Presence! Jeff can be reached at 410-878- 2596 or via e-mail at [email protected] .

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