The Websand Guide to Setting Email Marketing Goals

The Websand Guide to Setting Email Marketing Goals

Let me ask you a question. Do you know how effective your email marketing is?

How would you answer that question?

Sure, you can check your metrics. As of April 2018, the average open rate across all industries was 18.09%. Is yours higher or lower? But what does knowing that information really tell you?

Without putting metrics into context, they’re not that helpful. Why? Well, you can’t know if your email marketing strategy is effective unless you set goals. How else can you know if you’ve achieved anything?

Say you add fifty new subscribers in a day. That’s great…isn’t it? Without a goal, you have no idea. Try adding in a goal to give context. If you wanted a hundred subscribers a day, your strategy is failing. If you wanted ten subscribers a day, you’re flying.

The goal helps you push your email marketing forwards.

And if you have no idea if you’re hitting goals? You won’t know what’s working, and what isn’t. With no idea what’s not working, you don’t know what to improve.

You get the idea.

To get traction with your email marketing, you must set goals.

Where Do I Start?

Mary Poppins would tell you to start at the beginning. Here, she’s not wrong (but then she is practically perfect).

Try asking yourself these questions to give you an idea of what you want to track. With nothing to track, you can’t set a goal.

  • What do you want your email marketing to do?
  • Why are you using email marketing?
  • How do emails fit into a wider marketing strategy?
  • What does your ideal subscriber look like?
  • Are you trying to increase sales?
  • Or is it more important to build long-term relationships with customers?

The first three questions are fundamental. If you don’t know why you’re using email marketing, or what you want it to do, then you’re likely to build a list you can’t use. So, if you’ve never thought about it, do so now.

The answers to those last three questions will change as your business grows. As will your goals. And that’s fine.

Is your email list a recent addition to your marketing? If so, it’s more important for you to build relationships with those early subscribers.

But if you’ve been using email marketing for years? Try automation to increase sales.

How to Approach Goal Setting the Websand Way

You’ll read lots of articles online about goal setting for email marketing. They all focus on growing your list, boosting open rates, or improving engagement.

While they’re not bad goals, they’re not aligned with the Websand Way. Let’s look at why that is before we examine how to do it (the right way).

Growing your List

For example, you might say ‘I aim to double my list within the next six months by using social media advertising’.

Now we don’t advocate focusing on numbers. You could double your list by adding a bunch of fake addresses. But you’re a smart marketer so you want quality subscribers. You want to help your customers, not collect them like Pokémon.

Remember, the size of a list is less important than its quality.

Let’s take the previous example – doubling your list using social media advertising. Well, that’s fine but it’s still vague.

Your goal may instead be ‘I aim to test my call-to-action copy to grow a quality list within six months’.

Getting your call-to-action right ensures your sign-ups want your help. That means better leads for you and less unwanted email for them. Hooray!

You’ve moved the focus away from numbers and onto quality. You can track the improved quality from the number of sales you have. A low churn rate also indicates better quality subscribers.

Check out our guide to customer retention if that’s an issue for you.

Improving Open and Click Rates

These are vanity metrics because so many things can affect them. Some of those things are beyond your control. For example, subscribers might read your emails in a ‘preview’ pane. Only their email provider doesn’t register that as an open.

Or they may click one link and then spend an hour reading different things on your website. You only register the first click. (Here, the click is important, but you’d also need to look at things like your website bounce rate).

Now, you can work on improving these with better copy. Make it obvious what a subscriber will get by opening the email. And make it crystal clear what action you want them to take. Why should they click the link?

Investing in email automation is a better way. Setting up ‘triggers’ ensures customers get the right email at the right time. If they’re expecting your email, or they need its content? Your open and click rates rise anyway. It’s permission marketing at its finest.

Your sales rise along with those clicks. Which is more important, don’t you think?

Boosting Engagement

This is a difficult goal to set because it’s a hard one to track. How do you quantify engagement? More clicks? More replies to emails? There are so many variables.

You could ask subscribers questions (if you have someone with the time to reply). Include a series of tick boxes so subscribers choose what they want to hear about. They’re more likely to engage with emails if they’re interested in the topic. Or give them the option to set the frequency of emails they receive.

A better method? Segment your list. This is a sure-fire way of ensuring subscribers get the exact right message for them.

You can create segments based on the content that prompted them to sign up. Or use segments based on their attendance at your events using Eventbrite. Set up segments for frequent buyers, loyal referrers, or new sign-ups that you need to nurture.

Whatever works for you. But segmentation lets you send customers the content that’s right for them. Because email marketing is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

So how do I set email marketing goals then?

Start by pinpointing something you want to improve. Maybe you want to set up segmentation. Or you want to use triggers, so buyer behaviour dictates the emails they receive. Start small so you can achieve it and move onto the next goal.

Let’s go with segmentation. You want to set up your first segment for new subscribers who sign up from your blog.

Work out what you hope to achieve. Here, you want that segment so you can send them related content as part of an onboarding sequence.

Decide when you want to achieve the first step. You’d like to have a segment set up within two weeks.

Finally, schedule a review in your calendar. In this example, we’d look at the segment a month later. We’d be able to see which customers signed up, and which blog posts prompted those subscriptions. Then we’d know how much of the sequence they got through before they bought something or disengaged.

At that point, you can refine your email marketing according to the data you collected for the goal.

Without setting the email marketing goal, you’d have nothing to measure. Which takes us right back to the beginning of this post.

What did we learn today?

Setting email marketing goals is the key way to determine what works and what doesn’t in your email marketing strategy. Doing more of the former and less of the latter will take your marketing, and your business, forward. Your customers will receive more emails they want and have a happier inbox. Everybody wins!

Not all email companies have this philosophy. If you’d like to work with a company who believes in subscribers as people, not just numbers, then get in touch. Let’s set some goals you’ll be excited to achieve.

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Also published on Medium.