The importance of analytics in email marketing

“Email remains the most effective marketing channel for businesses to communicate with their customers in clear and direct ways,” this according to VentureBeat’s recent buyer’s guide: How to navigate the email marketing landscape.  This sentiment echoes continued findings from Epsilon’s email trends and benchmarks report.  Still, as marketers continue to benefit from email marketing, new challenges arise.

Mobile has changed the way consumers interact with email while social has opened communication between consumers and brands. These statements may not be groundbreaking, but it is important to point out the increased complexity they have brought to the email channel particularly around customer data and analytics.  As David Daniels’, President and CEO of the Relevancy Group stated, “Email marketing’s complexity only continues to increase as marketers aspire to centralize customer data and improve message relevancy.”

It’s no surprise that enterprise-level marketers are attempting to connect the cross-channel dots to truly understand how consumers view and use each channel.  After all, revenue and ROI fuel budget allocation and marketers continually need to prove the value of their channel.  Still, as the buyer’s guide points out, “a whopping 27.7% of enterprises don’t even bother tracking ROI” generated via email marketing.  Why not?  “[Email marketers] simply don’t know how to do it,” and they identified improved analytics from their email marketing vendor as the biggest vendor-driven email issue.

Data challenges have increased the marketer’s need for support from vendors to prospect and mine customer information, across channels, and render it in a meaningful way that enables more effective marketing decision making.  My colleague Kara Trivunovic recently pointed out, the success of email programs today are often determined by the action of the recipient. Open= yes, unopened = no.  But where is the “maybe” step in between? We don’t account for that response today.

Email marketers now have to go beyond traditional email metrics and look at their email subscribers in a much more holistic way, across channels.  As Kara explains, “to get a ‘maybe’ means finding a correlation between sending an email to a customer that drives engagement in another channel. What if a customer visited your website within three hours of receiving an email communication from you? Or picked up the phone and called your customer service center to inquire about a product?”

Marketers trying to get this holistic view of customers can’t afford to just guess what’s working and what isn’t. In this evolving multichannel environment, traditional attribution models often lack the sophistication needed to determine how wisely marketing dollars are spent. By mining this data to gain better insight about consumers’ cross-channel behavior, as well as the effectiveness of your communications in a cross-channel context, you can learn to invest in the most efficient and profitable mix of channels to enhance your campaigns.

That’s why, at Epsilon we take a full-feature analytics driven approach.  This starts with more than 100 data scientists on staff as part of our analytics-as-a-service add on to help marketers identify, reach, engage, convert and retain more customers.

What’s your approach to marketing analytics? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Epsilon was named a “Best Bet” in VentureBeat’s Buyer’s Guide: How to navigate the email marketing landscape.  VentureBeat found “Vendors like Epsilon do an excellent job of insulating this problem, particularly with their full-featured, analytics driven approach.  The company has over 100 data scientists on staff as part of its analytics-as-a-service add on.