Everything starts with a good question

When I joined the Experian EMEA Central Marketing Team in 2010 my first task was to migrate all the marketing teams to a single email marketing platform. Once we achieved that, and started to train the users and improve their email marketing skills, something happened. They started asking questions. And good ones, like: “Carlos, I got a 27% open rate in my last email campaign. Is that good or bad?” My answer to that would be: “Well, it depends”. And it does.

A Benchmark To Rule Them All

In order to fully answer that question I needed data to put that result into context. With that data I built the Email Marketing Performance Report, which was the first in a suite of analytics reports and dashboards. This tool allowed any marketer in the region to fully answer that question by comparing their current email marketing performance to past performance and to the performance of their peers across the region. The main objective of the benchmark was to provide insights and facilitate improving the business email marketing capabilities.

Email Marketing Metrics

I decided to focus on the main email marketing metrics to measure performance, with a twist:

  • Unique Open Rate: Percentage of emails that opened the campaign.
  • Unique Click Rate: Percentage of emails that clicked at least once in the campaign.
  • Bounce Rate: Percentage of hard-bounced emails.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: Percentage of emails that requested to be unsubscribed.
  • Success Rate: I combined the Unique Open Rate and Unique Click Rate metrics into one single indicator. I wanted to show the effectiveness of our email marketing performance in a single metric, and compare averages for all EMEA with the top 25% and bottom 25% performing campaigns.

Benchmark Sections

The benchmark was divided into several sections. Inside each, I included a dashboard with data visualizations for the metrics mentioned above, among others.

  • EMEA: Visualization of main metrics for the aggregated data for all campaigns in the region. I included as well a comparison between EMEA average and the top and bottom 25% by performance.
  • Category: I assigned all campaigns to one of three categories, and compared performance of each:
    • Events: all the email campaigns related to an event, from the announcement to the thanks to attendees. All types of events were included, from conferences to webinars.
    • Editorial: all thought leadership and content-driven newsletters.
    • Product: not just promotional emails, but product updates, cross and up selling campaigns as well.
  • Business Line: Visualization of main metrics and comparison between three different business lines.
  • List Size: In this section I explored performance by campaign list size. I demonstrated a negative correlation between target list size and performance.
  • Time: I wanted to analyze our email marketing performance and activity depending on the day of the week, day of the month and month each campaign was sent.
  • Country: Each country had its own tab, with a visualization of the main email marketing metrics, compared to the EMEA average.

Two thousand data points

In total, the Email Marketing Performance Report analyzed more than two thousand email campaigns, sent in 22 countries, over 4 years. More than 4 million emails were sent in these email marketing campaigns.

What if…?

I produced this email marketing benchmark for a B2B company with no ecommerce activity. If email marketing was driving conversions and revenue, then this project would have been quite different. I would have looked at orders and revenue as the basis for campaign success. I would have shown as well revenue per email opened, average order size and conversion rate. In order to discover ways to improve results, I’d look into top-performing keywords in subject lines and calls to action. A qualitative analysis of top and bottom performing campaigns would as well uncover actionable insights.