5 Fresh Reporting Techniques

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1 5 Fresh Reporting Techniques For Better Marketing Strategies Marketing Guide

2 The Problems With Existing Marketing Reports Before we start looking at the new reports, let s have a look at the flaws in the existing way of reporting on marketing programmes. marketing produces a lot of data, with its ability to track deliveries, bounces, opens, clicks and conversion activity. Most reports using this data fail to provide marketers with the intelligence required to make informed decisions about their marketing activity. Instead, they just drown marketers in a barrage of statistics, too numerous to digest. Additional problems with reports: Changes in performance will happen little by little, each campaign or newsletter sent, hiding any long term decline Reports are usually consolidated across all customers and subscribers, not showing you how performance differs between old versus new subscribers, engaged versus dis-engaged, male versus female, etc. Data from campaigns is quite raw and marketers have to spend time analysing endless spreadsheets, CSV files and more, before they can arrive at answers to the questions that drive their strategy Here is our take on some of the existing reports provided by ESPs, and why they are flawed in their attempt to provide value to the marketer: Reporting Per Time Period When changes happen in an marketing programme, you tend to see very little difference week on week. Why? Well if you introduce a fabulous tailored section to your newsletter with 3,000 variations, no-one is expecting it. Subscribers are expecting to receive the same generic which has not contained anything of interest, and it is this expectation that influences their lack of action, keeping the change in performance low. This also explains why most see a gradual decline in opens over time, as customers start to realise there is nothing in your s to make them worthwhile opening. But when a marketer measures week on week, there is the danger that they think any change in performance is down to the actual , not everything that has gone on before. Blips in performance can also be explained by external factors such as: The weather Delivery issues Key events in the world, such as World Cup eating up inbox time Customers on holiday So when looking for the reason for change in performance, it is not necessarily down to the . This leads to the report being useful for nothing more than an awareness of current performance rather than identifying ways of improving strategy. Most existing marketing reports just drown marketers in a torrent of statistics 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 1

3 Heatmap The first time you look at this it s great; visually identifying where all the clicks occurred on the top of your , but don t you see the same old findings? Are all the warm areas at the top? Does the get colder as you go further down? Rather than aiding continual re-design of the newsletter, like the report promises, it always leads to the conclusion that unless something is above the fold in your design, don t bother. Activity Timeline Reports that show when a response occurs after an is sent, do not allow you to work out the best time of day to send. Typically, they will show that the vast majority of activity will occur shortly after sending, with the odd blip first thing in the morning and early evening. Industry Benchmarks Another area that can mislead, is comparing your own performance to industry benchmarks. The danger is that if you are getting a 2% better open rate than the benchmark, you think you are doing OK, when in fact there is so much more that can be achieved. Delivery Rate Although essentially a statistic rather than a report, we hate the way it is used so much, so we have included it here. ESPs all claim to have 99.9% or similar delivery rate. Marketers think that if their delivery rate is 98.2% they have no issues. This is simply not the case. Delivery rate is nothing more than list total minus bounces, and bounces have very little to do with inbox delivery at the top 3 major webmail providers; Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail. Instead, marketers should be seeding their s with test accounts at the major ISPs and webmail providers to get a true reflection of their deliverability or inbox placement. The vast majority of actvity will always occur shortly after sending with the odd blip first thing in the morning and early evening Here are our thoughts on benchmarks and their flaws: 1. Most marketers still do less than perfect marketing. is cheap, so the ROI gained from Batch and Blast ing does not incentivise improvement, hence benchmarks are lower. 2. The methodology behind collecting benchmark stats is often questionable we don t believe they are accurate enough. 3. Can you really compare your organisation with a generic swathe of other brands in your sector? Is your frequency the same? Is your list older? Is the source of your list from a more robust place? Has your data been cleaned? All of these are massive factors in relative performance that will not be taken into account with benchmark comparisons. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 2

4 5 Fresh Reporting Techniques At center, we believe there are five alternative ways of viewing the reporting of your marketing programme, all of which provide far greater value to the marketer than traditional reporting. Each one is detailed here, with a real-life case study to show you how the insight gleaned from these reports can be used to directly influence future strategy. Due to the commercially sensitive nature of these reports, and the fact that many highlight deficiencies within the client s business, we have removed all names. #1 Custom Dashboard Create a customised reporting dashboard that shows the information you and your management team need, to make instant decisions. #2 Campaign Tagging Tag s with defining attributes such as the day the was sent or the main offer. This makes it quick and easy to analyse the results in the future. #3 Segmentation Reports Drill-down on your campaign statistics to understand response rates from each of your defined segments. Identify groups whose performance needs improving. #4 Engagement Reports If your average open rate is 15%, you need to identify if this is the same 15% or different each send and how many people never open any of your s? #5 Lifecycle Reports The Lifecycle Report shows how quickly open rates decline from the start of the relationship. Analyse the decline for all chosen subscribers from the first received and onwards. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 3

5 #1 Custom Dashboards With all the information available in the numerous reports an ESP provides, there is a danger of information overload. However, if you report just top-level statistics, irrelevant campaign information can distort key metrics. Therefore, it is important to be able to create customised reporting dashboards that show the information you and your management team need, to make instant decisions, not just the information your ESP chooses to display. This might be: Trends in performance of each type of campaign, over time. Breakdown in revenue between different types of campaigns, to see where your revenue is coming from. Comparison between campaign types and other chosen ways of reporting of campaigns. Analysis of overall performance of the last 30 days, versus the previous 30 day period. Annotating key events or shifts in performance with clear notes to aid historical interpretation of statistics. Being able to create your own set of custom dashboards, complete with annotations, comments and analysis, allows you to cut through the clutter of reporting and remember why a trend has sharply changed, without guesswork or having to dig through old archives. Dashboards in action An center client was concerned that a 50% increase in s being added to their database was causing overall open, click and conversion rates to fall. The problem was that existing internal reports only showed top level information: s sent, opened, clicked and revenue generated per week. Over time these numbers were increasing, mainly in line with how many new subscribers were joining according to the internal management reports. However, these reports were not highlighting the long term damage from the additional s. Therefore the marketing team set up custom dashboards using center s Insight Reports tool. These showed clear trends over time and a breakdown of what type of campaigns generated what level of revenue. This was all combined with annotations and commentary on the timeline of key events, such as the introduction of the additional weekly campaigns. With this new dashboard, it was easy to see an overall decline in conversion rates rather than overall numbers, and determine root causes of untargeted sales promotions. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 4

6 #2 Campaign Tagging Most ESP reporting tools enable you to compare and crunch stats on s, based on standard elements like date the was sent, or by ticking the list of s to compare. However it can be useful to analyse in different ways such as: Type of campaign - Newsletter versus Welcome versus Reactivation, etc. Day of week or hour of day External events that impact on campaign performance - like the weather, World Cup or riots! Main type of offer or news story included abovethe-fold Style of special offer s versus new product releases Aggregating this data by tag type on all of your s will show greater contrasts and more statistically robust results than comparing individual campaigns in isolation. This allows you to be confident in your findings as to which day of the week is best to send or what type of content works best, without spending days manually crunching data. Tagging in action A membership organisation tagged their s by the type of content featured in the main story within their newsletter. Content types included news, events and offers. Looking at campaigns in isolation proved not to offer the insight desired, as the quality of each news story, event or offer would differ each time. Therefore, a high-quality news story may outperform some events but not others. However, as soon as tags were applied, they were able to aggregate across each type of content, making it was clear that events were far more popular items of interest than news, followed by partner offers. However, it became more interesting when these tags were combined with the various segments of how the addresses were collected. Now they could see that addresses sourced at events had the strongest correlation with events, but other sources, such as social media sign-ups had a slightly better performance when news was the main story. Introducing different types of content for each segment was not practical due to resource limitations and lack of enough content for each. However, it was found that by simply re-ordering the content for each segment, clickthrough rates improved by 12% compared to the control group. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 5

7 #3 Segmentation Reports Segmentation Reporting is the ability to drill-down on your campaign statistics to understand response rates from each of your defined segments. For example: How does campaign performance compare between gender? Control Group Analysis, such as understanding whether people who received your welcome programme perform better over the first year of subscribing than those kept in the control group. What is the true value of each source of data? Do some sign-up sources provide a better quality subscriber than others? Is there a strong correlation between the performance of s mentioning a type of product in the subject line, and those that have previously bought in that product category? By breaking down per segment, not only do you identify groups whose performance needs improving, but also the opportunity size. This enables you to decide upon which segments are worth focussing your efforts on, and in what order. Segment Reports in Action A travel organisation decided to analyse their campaign performance over the previous 12 months by looking at both gender and age of the subscriber. What they found was that males outperformed females consistently. For example, open rates average 14.76% for Males and 12.04% for females. When looking at age, it could also be seen clearly that subscribers over the age of 40 performed better than younger subscribers. The range of holidays offered by the travel provider is particularly diverse, however looking back at many of the s over the last year, it was clear that there had been an overall emphasis on reaching higher value customers, with many s focussing on golf and other male-orientated holidays. This insight highlighted the need to review the content strategy and was used as a business case for investing resource into a tailored marketing strategy, using dynamic content techniques to serve each customer holidays and content relevant to them. Using the same segment reports, it has been identified that the tailored approach has seen an increase in opens and clicks of 27% for females and the improved targeting increased male open rates by 11%. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 6

8 #4 Engagement Reports Top level statistics on your marketing show that your average open rate is 15%, but is that the same 15% of subscribers or different ones each time? How many people open every and how many people never open any s? Engagement reports show open rates for each individual subscriber over a selected period of s sent. Typically between 40-60% of your list will have never opened any of your s in the last year. This is a huge chunk but by being able to identify who they are allows you to plan a strategy for them. Such a strategy might involve introducing a reactivation campaign, trialling a new style of from name, reducing the sending frequency, or totally suppressing them. Alternatively, there is also the opportunity to identify the most active members, where targeting member-getmember or social sharing campaigns are likely to be more effective. Again, this data can become more valuable when drilling down per segment, allowing you to see the engagement level of each segment. Engagement Reporting in action An online travel company found that around 60% of their list had not opened an in the last 12 months. They tried changing various elements of the newsletter when sending to this segment, the most successful being changing the from address, which generated a 7% open rate from this segment. Following this range of activities, they suppressed this segment from the majority of sends, only sending to them on a monthly rather than weekly basis. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 7

9 #5 Lifecycle Reports Most marketers will experience a drop in open and click rates over time as their lists get older. What sets a tailored, relevant programme apart from batch & blast is the speed of that decline. The very start of the relationship between the sender and customer is vital. If the customer develops a perception that there is never anything of interest within the s they receive, then they will unsubscribe, report as spam, or most likely simply ignore your s. Once a customer has decided that the s are not in their interest, then it is very difficult to correct this perception. Indeed the biggest factor as to why someone opens an or otherwise, is their past experience of these s, not the subject line or other message attributes. The Lifecycle Report shows how quickly this decline occurs from the start of the relationship. It shows the open rate for all chosen subscribers from the first received and onwards. Getting the relevance of messaging right is the key to extending the length of customer engagement over time. This does not just include targeting of content within newsletters, but also timing messages around key points in the customer lifecycle. For example, a welcome explaining the key reasons to use the company will be far more effective than just sending out newsletters. Frequency is also key. Over-send and the performance will drop faster. However, leave it too long before the first is sent and it will be very difficult to develop an engaged audience. Lifecycle Report in action A free online booking service analysed their s using the center Lifecycle Report and saw a sharp drop in open rates after customers receive their first 4 newsletters, at which point performance gently bottomed out. To overcome this they implemented a multistage Welcome Programme, educating the customer about the many benefits of the service, and providing inspiration for their next use of the website. These s also replaced many of the newsletters the customer would have received, resulting in far more relevant communication. After a period of 3 months re-bookings increased by 14%, and engagement improved by 54% compared to the control group, who were excluded from the Welcome Programme. 5 fresh reporting techniques for a better marketing strategy 8

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