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Earlier this month, Salesforce.com released its ExactTarget Marketing Cloud 2014 State of Marketing study that polled over 2,600 mid to senior level marketing managers. The goal of the report was to identify priorities for marketers in 2014. The results (shown below) illustrate that marketing professionals are still tied to decade old metrics when it comes to their email marketing programs (i.e. 64% want to increase email click-through and open rates.)

Tracking email open and click rates is an outdated form of measurement that needs to be replaced with a more relevant, action driven standard. To do this, marketers need to think beyond the information within the email. Instead, they need to determine and track how people will respond to that information. Only in this way can marketers truly understand the prospect’s stage in the buying process and the next steps necessary to drive a purchase decision.


Key Study Results

  • 67% of marketers want to increase sales directly attributable to digital marketing campaigns.
  • 64% want to increase email click-through and open rates.
  • 61% hope to increase their ROI.
  • 35% are concerned with the lifetime customer value.

Alternatives to Tracking Email Open and Click Rates
Email metrics unfortunately, haven’t progressed much in the past 10-years. Why can be debated, but one theory is that because executives seldom understand what these numbers mean; they push their teams to show improvements in these areas without understanding how they truly influence sales. As marketing professionals, offering an alternative to tracking email open and click rates is a vital way of building credibility with executives, and more closely aligning your marketing efforts with sales outcomes.

Here’s how you would do this. First, continue to send out your monthly email newsletter with promotional announcements. Then create a strategy for tracking and measuring the trail someone follows after clicking on a specific article. This trail should lead to a specific outcome and needs to be measured individually by the person and the action they take to learn more about that solution. Actions could include watching a video, downloading a brochure, calling a sales person, or simply reviewing multiple pages online. Each activity provides details on the prospect’s interests and insight into their buying process. With this knowledge, marketers can target or customize future communications to the specific needs, interest, and buying patterns of prospects.

By doing this, you’ll be creating email marketing campaigns that are more interesting to your prospects and better aligned with your sales strategy. To make this work however, you need to think beyond the content delivered, and focus on the action you want the recipient to take, when they receive that email. You can then track the prospect’s activity and each subsequent activity to create a report with much more meaningful data, which can be used to accelerate your sales activity.