Measuring customer engagement a nuanced equation

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Question: How can marketers measure an email recipient's engagement level? Answer: Determining a level of engagement that a recipient has with your email can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you have limitations in performance visibility beyond the actual email metrics themselves. You need to start with the reality of your email campaigns. Take a good, long look at what your value proposition is versus the content you are actually delivering: Is there a disconnect? If so, fix it. Dig into the contribution your email programs make to your overall marketing communications plan. Next come the metrics: ??Opens and clicks. Your open and click-through rates will give you some insight into how your recipients are engaging with a specific email message (No open=not engaged; opened and clicked=engaged). But remember, that means for this message only, and it is a guiding light at best. ??Conversion. Being able to track from your email through to your site, and then to conversion, gets you a step closer to measuring engagement. But again, if it looks at only one blast, you really only garner an understanding about that message. Conversion definition is driven by your call to action and can vary from message to message—and may even span channels (for example, “Call your account executive today”). ??Behavior over time. Looking at how customers leverage your email over time will help you gain some real insight into engagement. As you start doing this analysis, you may find that 20% of your subscribers are driving 80% of the conversion in your email program. Those would be highly engaged folks and should be treated as such. You may also find that you have a group of people who consistently open or consistently click, but never advance the behavior. Determining why and then making adjustments to correct that can help to drive higher engagement in the long-term. ?? Value of an email address. Ulti-mately, you wouldn't be emailing folks if you didn't think it was a valuable effort. Understanding the value an email subscriber contributes to your bottom line versus a non-subscribing customer will help you determine the incremental contribution that email recipient makes. Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems (, a provider of online marketing solutions for email and social media. Originally published April 28, 2011
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