Tracking response to individual mailings is a critically important part of evaluating a mailing list’s performance and your overall direct mail marketing strategy. Here is an overview of four key mail metrics: bounce rate, open rate, and click-through rate (for email) and conversion rate (for both email and postal mail).
Bounce rate (email)
Bounce rate is the percentage of email that is undeliverable. Email may be undeliverable because an address does not exist (a “hard bounce”), or it may be undeliverable because the mailing has been caught en masse by an ISP’s spam-blocking program. It’s important to have your ESP (email service provider) analyze the bounced messages to determine which is the case, so valid addresses won’t be dropped from your mailing list. (When you use a Marigold list, we take care of analysis for the list and ensure that your offer is delivered to the number of addresses you have requested.)
Open rate (email)
The open rate tells you the percentage of email that reaches the addressee and gets opened. Open rates will be highest with opt-in email communication, especially newsletters consumers have signed up for at a website. To measure open rates accurately, you must send email messages in HTML format. HTML allows you to include graphics that — when the email is opened — are loaded from a server and the count is generated. Keep in mind, however, that some email clients allow users to turn off image loading, and that can cause your open rates to be underreported.
Click-through rate (email)
Measuring the click-through rate tells you how many visits to your site are generated by your email offer. Just as you use a response code for postal campaigns, links in your email should include code that allows you, or your email service provider, to count the number of click-throughs from a specific email offer to your site. Clients using Marigold’s opt-in email lists receive statistics on the quantity of emails delivered, open rate, and click-through rate for each mailing.
Conversion rate measures how many recipients of postal mail or email act on your marketing offer. The action you measure can be anything: filling out an online form, calling your telephone number for more information, opting in to future email, or ordering your product or service. Measuring online conversion is becoming increasingly sophisticated and accurate. With websites able to set cookies on visitors’ machines, and thus identify activity by a unique user across repeat visits, it’s often possible to identify an email-driven conversion even if the email recipient does not act on your offer on his or her first visit. This is the online equivalent of using response codes and catalog codes in postal campaigns.
While setting up systems to collect, analyze, and track the performance of mailing lists and mailings requires some initial effort, it will pay for itself rapidly in an increased ability to test and tailor campaigns to generate maximum ROI.