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Finding Value in the Negative Email KPIs

email intelligence blog

How you can use campaign results to inform future strategies

In the business climate today, enterprise organizations have more difficulty getting an email into a consumer’s inbox than getting a paper letter delivered to their mailbox.

Our recent consumer survey showed that 63% of consumers have more than one email address, 18% created a new email address in the last year, and 23% have given up an inactive email address this year. That’s a lot of change for any CRM!

Still, many companies use email for customer outreach because customers want it, and it’s fast and low cost. If you’re one of them, you might wonder if your email strategy is working.

We’ve found many companies don’t have the full story on email — myths and misinformation abound. Plus, campaign results are often a mixed bag. And the pace of business makes it far too easy to focus on the most current effort while discounting the overall process.

So, let's look at email metrics — and how to address negative results that crop up.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

You're probably already familiar with the metrics for email campaigns:

  • Open rate
  • Click rate
  • Hard bounce rate (a permanent error preventing it from being delivered)
  • Soft bounce rate (a temporary error preventing it from being delivered, such as a full mailbox)
  • Unsubscribe rate

Many organizations have target ranges for positive KPIs based on past experiences. However, due to industry changes related to email privacy in recent years, it’s become increasingly difficult to understand the effectiveness of campaigns – even with positive numbers.

Shifts in negative KPIs — such as a sudden increase in hard bounce rates or unsubscribes — have historically been ignored if open rates or click-through rates met or exceeded expectations. Why? With so many variables involved in emails (including subject lines, frequency, calls to action, formatting, etc.), organizations tend to focus on testing and optimizing the positives over investigating the negatives — and yet, negative KPIs are incredibly important, too.

Read the eBook: Measures that Matter. Finding value in negative email KPIs

Three areas where you can make an impact

Email inbox response, like other consumer behaviors, can be unpredictable. That doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind when you hit send. There are three areas where companies CAN make an impact that benefits their delivery success rate:

  1. Verification: Reaching your intended recipient
    Verification involves identifying whether you have the right email for the right person before you send your message.The risk: Emailing the wrong party can have significant privacy, regulatory, and financial risks. Email addresses that have been inactive for a period of time may be reclaimed by internet service providers (ISPs) and given to a new user — creating risks for senders. Once reclaimed, any emails sent should result in a hard bounce, but these emails can also be spam traps.
  2. Deliverability: Get your emails into inboxes
    The goal is a 98% or better rate of emails delivered to emails sent. ISPs generally use algorithms to help determine which emails to deliver and which to reject or send to spam.
    The risk: Sending email communications that are unlikely to be delivered can damage your IP reputation, impacting future deliverability for ALL your email communications by landing your IP on the blocking list.
  3. Engagement: All engagement is not the same
    Positive engagement with your emails typically boosts your IP reputation and increases other in-box placements, for example, such as opening, clicking on links, and viewing the email in a browser.Non-engagement, like emails delivered but not viewed, detracts from your IP reputation, as does negative engagement such as emails delivered and then marked as spam.

Use negative KPIs to help you optimize

Your email metrics can help inform email strategies and more effective campaigns. While it’s tempting to focus exclusively on open and click-through rates to define success, exploring what’s behind bounce rates and unsubscribes AND taking action can add up to a win.To find value in your KPIs:

  • Watch ALL of your numbers. Any change in KPIs is worthy of investigation. A change in engagement can be an early warning sign that something else is off in a campaign.
  • Confirm data by verifying and appending regularly. It minimizes regulatory risk but also increases engagement. Good data can stave off tons of other headaches.
  • Dig deeper. A flurry of unsubscribes or high numbers of non-responses doesn’t necessarily spell trouble, but they are signs that change is needed. Consider testing different variables before rolling out a new campaign.
  • Get smart! Use KPIs to optimize. All ISP algorithms are not the same, and evaluating KPIs by domain will help determine if adjustments are needed for a specific domain
  • Create cadence. A single email reminder about an invoice may not be enough, while multiple emails about a new product may come off as too pushy. Use past observed consumer behavior to help adjust the frequency of emails.

Give your email campaigns the support they deserve. Learn how TruContactTM Email Behavior Intelligence, powered by Neustar®, helps increase email delivery rates, drive consumer engagement, and reduce privacy, compliance, and financial risks — while providing a proven way to keep CRM data up to date.

Email Behavior Intelligence is part of our TruContact suite of Customer Contact Intelligence solutions.



Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.