Why Comparing Metrics Matters
Do you know how your association email marketing program compares to your peers? If not, it’s time to find out. To help us, let’s pick out some highlights from the Informz 2017 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report, which gathered key email marketing metrics – delivery, open, click and unsubscribe rates – from over 1 billion association emails sent in 2016.
The benchmark for associations
While the number of emails sent by associations is increasing (volume rose by 12.3% compared to 2015), at the same time open rates (35.6% – down from 36%) and click rates (15.6% – down from 16.1%) are decreasing. In other words, your email messages are now less likely to cut through overloaded inboxes and engage your audience. It’s therefore more important than ever to use the analytics tools at your disposal and deliver effective data-driven email campaigns.
In Australia and New Zealand, the overall trend is positive. In fact, both the open rate and click rate were slightly higher than the previous year for emails sent from these two countries. Australia recorded a 38.4% open rate (second to Canada and ahead of the US, UK and New Zealand) and a 17% click rate, while New Zealand recorded a 31.2% open rate and a 21.3% click rate.
Taking a closer look at the report, we can see that the majority of subscribers (68.8%) were sent 5 or less emails per month (resulting in a 22.5% open rate and a 9.8% click rate). Interestingly, when subscribers were sent up to five times as many emails per month (between 21-25 total), the open rate (20.3%) dipped, yet the click rate (14.8%) rose significantly.
Ever wondered which day/s of the week are best for sending emails to your membership and subscribers? Perhaps surprisingly, Friday scored the highest open rate of 36.7% and the highest click rate of 16.2%, yet associations continue to send the majority of emails (64% of the total) on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Messages sent in late afternoon had the highest open rate of 36.5% and emails sent midday have the highest click rate (15,7%).
How the benchmark guides your thinking
So what should you do with all that information (not to mention other interesting metrics to emerge from the Informz report such as email client type, number of links, and number of recipients)? Ideally, you will use the benchmark figures to better understand where your own association’s email marketing metrics stand among the industry.
By reviewing your association’s unique email analytics and assessing them against the benchmark, you will learn what you’re doing well and where you have potential to improve. Compare results of your campaigns to the general benchmark figures, as well as analyse the dynamic of your association – every association is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Start by looking at these numbers:
- Open / click rate: Is your open / click rate higher or lower of the benchmark?
- Variation: Check the variation of open / click rate between members and non-members lists. Are your fellows more engaged than you student members, for example?
- A/B subject testing: Are you trying it? What topics are more interesting for your members?
- When to send: Which days / times of day work best for your members?
- Reasons for unsubscribing: When do members unsubscribe the most? Is it when you send them too many events? Or immediately following emails on certain topics?
- Site traffic: What topics / email types drive conversions and therefore higher website traffic?
- Campaign effectiveness: What impact does the email campaign have on your income-generating activities? For example, how many conference registrations are received after email campaigns / membership renewal campaigns?
- Database growth: How do you nourish your list? Take into account the ‘churn rate’ to understand your subscriber growth after unsubscribes, complaints and hard bounces. An average annual churn rate is approximately 25%, meaning marketers need to add 25% to the list in new subscribers each year to stay even.
Making the most of metrics
While understanding metrics like delivery, open, click and unsubscribe rates is essential, you also need to dig deeper into email analytics and take advantage of the tools available, such as marketing automation. In 2016, the volume of emails sent through marketing automation campaigns grew exponentially; a 70% increase year over year. Indeed email campaigns using marketing automation deliver higher engagement metrics, a fact we can attribute to the relevancy, targeting and timing of these automated messages.
Examples of marketing automation for associations include:
- New member welcome and follow-ups
- Re-engage inactive members
- Event registration follow-ups
- Renewal reminders
- Win-back campaign for members
- Lead generation content downloads.