Email analytics: 3 best practices to live by

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Marketers today can use more media channels than ever to reach their target audiences, but along with that opportunity comes a significant challenge: the need to track prospects who move from one device to the next and back again. In fact, integrating cross-channel data is a concern for 82% of advertisers and agencies, according to a December 2012 eMarketer report, "The State of Cross-platform Ad Measurement: Industry Trends and Current Practices." It's also an issue that b-to-b marketers, which often have disjointed marketing efforts, feel acutely, said Clark Fredricksen, VP at research company eMarketer. "There are a number of challenges for the b-to-b market, including getting a handle on the growing number of media choices available, not to mention the number of devices and variety of measurement tools available on some but not all platforms," he said. While new offerings such as Google's Universal Analytics—which can help track site visitors as they move from device to device—and other measurement tools like it may help b-to-b marketers considerably, there are some basic best practices that need to be put into place first, Fredricksen said. Here are three that every marketer should implement.
  1. Stop relying on a single data source. There are limitations to using metrics from a single-solution provider that focuses only on one channel, such as email, Fredricksen said. "It's going to be very difficult to look at a single source to accomplish all of a marketer's data needs because the scale of the market is so complex," he said.
  2. Focus on a few key metrics. With the rush to embrace Big Data, many marketers think they need every possible campaign metric. While it's true that more information can lead to a deeper understanding, marketers have to crawl before they can walk when it comes to Big Data. "Find specific metrics that will inform campaign performance and strategic decisions, and go with them first," Fredricksen said. So, for example, merge A/B testing from an email campaign with Web analytics.
  3. Don't forget hands-on metrics and analytics. While a lot of data are now generated from a person's Web or email activity, marketer-supplied data are still useful. Send out surveys that can gauge a sense of media exposure and marketing effectiveness, Fredricksen said. "Surveys are very helpful when assessing media effectiveness," he said. "Then you can combine survey-based information with sales and marketing metrics to develop a better picture of your email campaigns and other marketing efforts."
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