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In email marketing, getting conversions is the ultimate goal

Paul Newman Archive

The more things change in the direct marketing world, the more they stay the same. Case in point: Email may have been supplanted in terms of its place in the hype machine, as marketing professionals are chattering much more these days about mobile applications and their capability for customer interactions, but at the same time, companies are still making a point of sending message after message to their customers' inboxes.

Email is still a fundamental part of practically every company's marketing strategy - and as such, email marketing deliverability is still a key value. Business leaders still must strive for data quality when it comes to their collections of customer contact information, because it can help them forge stronger connections with patrons and ultimately improve ROI.

It's tricky, though, for companies to gauge their success or failure where email marketing messages are concerned. There's one school of thought that as long as a message is received and clicked on, that's half the battle - but there also companies striving to go one step further.

The click is only the beginning
According to Econsultancy, companies should have much higher aspirations than simply getting people to click and open an email. Email marketing expert Christopher Ratcliff notes that it's complicated because email is still a maturing medium, but as per his research, the ideal approach is to look at click-through rates as only one component of a multi-step process.

"So whilst open rates for emails may have declined over the past few years as the channel has matured, this study highlights that in terms of revenue generation it's still an absolutely vital tool," Ratcliff explained. "Email marketers however should not be relying on open or click-through rates as the sole gauge of success, but rather looking at conversions and finding a way to relate their activity to revenue generated across all online marketing channels."

Knowing what to measure
The trick is in knowing what other metrics might prove relevant. Obviously, bounce rate is an important first step - if companies are working with incorrect or outdated addresses, their messages will fail to get through. Finding the inbox is an obvious prerequisite.

Past that point, though, are two metrics that more directly indicate success. Response rate measures whether people are engaging with marketing emails and actually taking the initiative to write back, while conversion rate indicates the frequency that these email interactions translate to real sales. The click may be a strong initial step, but the conversion is the real goal.