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Mastering Metrics

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The glory of online marketing is that with the right technology, everything can be measured. 

It's true that, compared to conventional paper-based direct marketing, online marketing offers greater depth and variety of customer feedback, and it's all available so fast. In 48 hours, over 80% of your email response will be known. You'll be able to see when the email was opened, what was clicked on and what the customer went on to do.   We no longer live in an age where 50% of our advertising is wasted but we don't know which 50%. Marketing budgets are coming under increasing pressure, as are marketers to justify expenditure in terms of return on investment. Measurement requirements should bear a direct correlation to business and marketing objectives, thereby giving you strong support for future investment. 

If marketing objectives are woolly and ill-defined, demonstrating achievement through clear results could prove difficult. Similarly if marketing objectives are constructed without giving prior consideration to measurement restrictions, you could find yourself pinned to unmeasurable targets. 

The received wisdom on targets is the familiar SMART system. 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely


Having first established with your IT department that it is possible to measure the areas on which you want to focus your marketing activity, you need to know, when and how often reports can be generated.   For media like emails, check with the email deployer that you can access results online, and how often the results update - in the first two days after the campaign is released, you'll need to keep a close check on how response is building. 

The great delight of online is the ability to change things on the hoof as you go along, but you do still need to give a campaign time to develop. 

What To Measure 

This very much depends on what you are trying to be achieve. 

Some key web measurements are: 

  • page impressions
  • repeat visitors (you'll need to use cookies or login to measure this)
  • where traffic is generated
  • search engines
  • other sites (a good idea to form alliances with these companies)
  • length of visit 
  • pages visited
  • visitor journeys through the site
  • forms or application forms abandoned - indicates a problem or a form is too long
  • newsletter sign-ups
  • downloads

 Email Measurements 

Your email deployment software or service provider should be able to give almost instant results as soon as the campaign has gone out.   Some services like MailAgent show visual thumbnails of the links clicked and the pages visited, which enables you to do more than the basic numerical analysis. 

The basic statistics to look at are: 

  • quantity sent
  • percentage bounce-backs and undeliverables - indicates poor list quality
  • open rates - single and multiple
  • percentage of unsubscribes
  • click-throughs
  • post-click journey
  • referrals
  • newsletter sign-up

One campaign will not be sufficient to gain any insight into the success of the activity. Several campaigns will have to be sent to start building a sufficiently large results history to enable meaningful trend analysis and see patterns emerge.  Each company and industry will have varying rates of response: find the benchmark response levels for your industry or create your own benchmark from previous results. Having established an "average" campaign response, you must continually test to optimise your results. 


Testing should be an integral part of every campaign plan. Without testing, your offers will grow stale and response rates will decline over time. Variables to be tested are: 

  • creative
  • timing (day of week, time of day)
  • subject line
  • offer
  • HTML versus plain text
  • new lists

You must ensure that test cells are of a significant size to make the results meaningful and that you have created a control cell identical in all aspects except the one variable you are testing -  otherwise you won't be able to draw any conclusions from your hard work. 

The Results 

When all your results roll in, collate them into a comparable table to see the overall campaign results. Then you'll have gained an insight into what makes your customers or prospects tick and be ready to start your next campaign.

For more information, please contact

MailAgent Ltd
John Dickinson Enterprise Centre
London Road Herts. HP3 9QU
Tel: 0333 577 0153
Fax: 01442 242 484

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