Email offers the automotive industry a fantastic channel through which to build loyalty with consumers and add value to the car-ownership and brand experience. Further, with consumer spending dropping and marketers’ budgets being cut, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the importance and effectiveness of the email channel and how it fits within the organization’s overall marketing efforts.
Measuring email programs
It’s also a good time for marketers to get serious about measuring their email programs and the value this high-return channel brings to the organization and its customers. Often, when I ask clients how their email programs are performing, the typical response is, “Well, our open rate is X, and our click rate is Y.” If this is your response, it’s time to up your game.
Opens and clicks are performance measurements, but they are not the only ones you should be evaluating. In the automotive industry there are different types of email communications: service reminders, promotional offers and special event notices from retailers as well as brand messages from manufacturers regarding new products. Regardless of the communication you need to benchmark, the basics hold true.
Defining your program objectives
The first step in enhancing your email measurement is to make sure you spell out your goals and objectives. For dealerships, the objective may be repeat sales and setting service appointments. For automakers, it might be creating awareness and driving in-market consumers to view new models on the brand website. Have primary goals as well as secondary and tertiary goals that can help really put context to your overall performance. Goals might include reach, frequency and brand exposure.
Tracking key metrics
Next, identify the metric that you’ll use to determine your success and how you’ll track that metric. Then, you must understand how data is captured to support that metric, who captures it and how it can be tied to your specific goal and, ultimately, email campaign performance.
The answers to these questions vary based on the tools that you currently use. If you use a leading email service provider (ESP) for your email deployment, you should have access to online conversion and sales reporting through them. Each provider varies in terms of data and tracking available.
If you use Atlas or Omniture, for example, to track your media and site-side activity, then some relatively simple tagging of your emails and websites will allow you to track site activity and tie it to your email campaign. These tools also can help you track in more detail, down to the SKU number or the amount of revenue driven, by capturing extended data from a webpage.
Once you’ve determined the goal, the metric and the way to tie the two together, you must execute. Thorough testing prior to email deployment and tracking responses via those tests, specifically when using Atlas, Omniture or email service provider data, is key.
Reporting on your success
The final step is to report on your success and do it consistently. Opens and clicks are certainly something you should watch to help you key in on specifics, such as subject lines and creative layout, but really putting value to your program means understanding the contribution email makes to your overall organization. How many sales did email generate and how much revenue? How many event attendees did a campaign generate? How many brand exposures or page hits did an email drive? Tracking at this level will help you truly understand the value of your program and optimize it for best results.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 2009 E-mail Marketing Guide, which is published by DMNews. This article has been modified by the author to make it more relevant for the Headlightblog.com audience
Email icon appears courtesy of Shane Fullwood via Flickr