SEM Analytics Part 1: Email

Mike MarchettiUncategorizedLeave a Comment

Assessment. Measurement. Metrics. Analytics.

In enrollment management we often use the phrase, “If it moves, track it.” Today, admission professionals are tasked with mastering email, social media and website analytics, in addition to recruiting and enrolling a talented and diverse class.

In this three-part blog series, we are going to identify and define the most important metrics and analytics you should be reviewing with a Campus Share Angle on why the metric is important to admissions and enrollment management teams. We will also provide links to some fantastic references along the way.

Part 1: Email Marketing Metrics

Email marketing and its associated technology is ever-evolving. It is important to follow email marketing trends on a proactive basis and try to stay current. In The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing, the HubSpot team highlights and defines several important email metrics. Marketo, in its blog, The Case for Email Marketing Metrics: Top 5 Best Practices, also reviews and defines the most important email metrics.

Top email marketing metrics:

Delivery Rate (Numbers sent minus bounce backs) and bounce rates: It would be impossible to measure your efforts if you did not start with the basics for each campaign. Who and how many will receive the message(s)? How many actually got delivered? Bounces are the emails that could not be delivered. You may have heard of a hard or soft bounce. HubSpot offers the following definitions: A soft bounce happens when someone’s mailbox is full or a server is down. A hard bounce occurs when the email is inactive, closed or incorrect.

Campus Share Angle: Delivery rates can tell you about the health of your list. If you’re conducting an email search campaign, you’ll want to know which emails bounced. With soft bounces you can try again. With hard bounces you’ll want to remove those email addresses and, ideally, understand whether this is still a real lead that you can engage with in a different way.

Open Rates: This data point is pretty intuitive. Knowing how many people opened your email can tell you a lot about the emails performance and help you improve email engagement over time. Open rates can give you feedback on subject line performance, engagement activity of recipients, and help you identify key times to send emails to maximize performance.

Campus Share Angle: For years, we heard the mantra, “Print is dead.” While a changing technological landscape created a need to think differently and often more creatively about how print fits into our marketing and communications efforts, print is alive and well. And now we’ve reached a similar point with email. While email usage among your prospective students may well be down from prior years, it’s important you don’t abandon email as part of a multi-channel communications approach. Open rates will help you see that enough of your audience is still engaging with you through email. You’ll want to look at email open data from a transactional perspective as well as an analytical one. First, with regard to the transactional, you need to resend emails that were not opened. This will increase your engagement levels (including unsubscribes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). Secondly, from an analytical standpoint you’ll want to use open rates to identify stronger subject lines, better days and times to send your email, and content that is most engaging to your prospects.  

Multi-touch Attribution: According to Mark Sullivan from CallRail, this concept, called multi-touch attribution, is the “process of tracking and assigning fractional credit to touchpoints along the path to a conversion.” For schools using a number of different email systems, getting a clear picture of your email marketing campaigns will present some challenges. It will be hard to look at how individuals move through the funnel and behave over time. When schools launch email campaigns from individual accounts and multiple CRMs, they reduce their ability to track prospects’ actions throughout the funnel.

Lead or Engagement Scores: Marketo offers a solid definition of Engagement Score: a standard way to measure the engagement of your emails over time and not just as an isolated standalone event. The higher your engagement or lead score (HubSpot’s version of this concept), the more likelihood of conversion. Each action taken by a prospect gets ranked in a positive (downloaded blog, subscribed to list) or negative (unsubscribed) manner. Many of the more advanced software systems have some form of scoring capability. If you don’t have that kind of system, developing a scoring method on your own may prove time consuming and difficult.

Campus Share Angle: EMail marketing can produce some pretty incredible Return on Investment (we discuss measuring ROI later in this post). But it offers more than conversion opportunities. It gives you data on your prospects interests and how they engage with you. Use that data over time by developing your own iterative points system to track students’ engagement habits and interest categories.

Conversion Rate: Whenever someone takes an action from your email (clicks a link), it is measured as a conversion. According to WordStream, a good conversion rate hovers between 2% and 5%, but with just a few tweaks of your font, subject line, images, etc., you could increase that percentage. Try some A/B Testing if you are not already!

Unsubscribe Rate/ Marked as Spam (or more positively, Retention Rate): Make sure you are CAN-SPAM Compliant, have clear, easy to find unsubscribe links, only send emails to people who have agree to receive emails, and offer strong, relevant content. High value content that shows you are a trustworthy sender will help you stay relevant. If you are not testing content for words or phrases frequently blocked by spam filters, it is important to do so right away. When you purchase lists or recieve a list from a professional organization, we recommend you run it through a verification process before sending the first email.   

Campus Share Angle: Many institutions try to limit the number of emails in an attempt to maximize conversions and minimize unsubscribes. The latter is unnecessary. Unsubscribes can mean a number of things some as benign as your prospect is getting your messages through other means and prefers that method to email. The important thing is to be relevant. Remember in good email marketing high volume is ok, as long as the information is targeted well and relevant to your audience. For example, multiple email reminders about your Open House are a great idea. But registration emails to prospects that already registered? Not well targeted and lacking in relevance to your audience.

Return on Investment (ROI): How do you calculate ROI on your email campaigns? To get a simple ROI you can look at the value of an email conversion in terms of revenue, multiply that by the number of email conversions, subtract the total from your initial investment to get revenue generated, and divide your email investment by that total.

Investment in Email Marketing: $50,000

Value per Conversion (or tuition revenue generated per conversion): $1,500

# of Conversions: 50

Value * # Conversions : $75,000

Revenue Generated: $25,000

ROI : 50%

Campus Share Angle: For something a little more complex, find ways to consider factors such as…

  • How email functions as a percent of your total marketing and recruitment investment
  • Objectives of individual campaigns and ways to value different conversion types
  • Cost for time investment by salaried employees involved in email marketing efforts

Because email is a key component of all college and university marketing strategies, reviewing metrics needs to be a regular part of our work. If you really want to get a handle on email marketing metrics, review Campaign Monitor’s 2018 blog on the 70 Email Marketing Stats Every Marketer Should Know. You will be the Admission Office email analytics expert in no time.

If you would like to learn more about how Campus Share can help you get more value out of your email marketing efforts contact us today!

Stay tuned to the second part of this blog series where we will highlight some of the top analytics you should be assessing as part of your social media campaigns.

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