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Appraising your email campaign…

July 7, 2009

Many marketers may never have had to assess the Return on Investment of their marketing efforts; after all it’s a near impossible task with traditional offline campaigns such as direct mail or advertising. One of the great things about email though is its accountability - the ease by which recipients’ reactions can be traced is one of the main strengths of email as a marketing medium. The trouble with tracking of course is that it is easy to get overwhelmed with data.

Proving ROI on email campaigns may be easier than ever before – but there is still a minefield of issues to bear in mind when appraising email campaigns. All too often marketers focus purely on click through and open rate when it comes to assessing the success, or otherwise, of their campaigns, when in fact there is much more to measuring success.

Here’s the Extravision guide to how best to assess your email campaigns...

Set criteria for success…

The first step to appraising your campaign is to decide the criteria by which you wish to judge its success. Hopefully you’ll have decided on the business objectives to be met when creating the campaign, so this shouldn’t be too hard. A proper objective should be quantifiable - and someone should be accountable for it.

Objectives might include: 

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Cross/up selling complementary products or services
  • Driving traffic to a website
  • Getting sign-ups to a newsletter

Without establishing goals and objectives in advance there is no way to gauge performance and demonstrate success. The two objectives, by which we are most frequently asked to assess campaigns, are: increased sales and better customer knowledge – neither is necessarily best measured by click through or open rates.

Measuring sales

If a campaign aim is to assist sales people in meeting their targets, email campaigns should not be run in isolation but in close liaison with the sales team. Ideally, both marketing and sales departments should be trying to track revenue generated as a direct result of an individual mailing or campaign. In some cases this may be possible by using unique, traceable codes when an order is placed.

For many companies however this is impractical, especially where products and services do not lend themselves to this high level of tracking. What your sales team should be able to assess is the quality of leads they are getting and how quickly they are able to convert them into sales; a successful campaign should make life much easier for the sales team. In fact in our experience, sales staff often beg for more email campaigns to be delivered so fruitful are the leads they develop. 

Better customer knowledge

The path to improving sales in the long term usually begins with a short-term strategy to know more about customers’ needs. The purpose of gaining more intelligence about customers should be to improve communications and to fine-tune the offers that are made.

For example, your campaign might take the form of a newsletter with a series of articles on a variety of subjects, including one that announces a new product launch. By tracking the users who have viewed that page, you are able to see who is interested and can then follow it up with another email in a week or so with supplementary information.

The information that customers are prepared to give you through an email campaign will have an impact on ROI further down the line if used in subsequent campaigns with a revenue-building objective. Email content and offers can be tailored to meet the needs of the recipient and increased personalisation will ensure that they are well received.

Understanding click through

Although click through isn’t everything when it comes to measuring success, it is definitely worth knowing who has clicked through to what – but only if you are going to use the information to your advantage. It’s all very well being able to say that your campaigns have an average click through rate of 60% - if that doesn’t translate to revenue then you is wasting your competitive advantage.

Campaigns should have a built in data analysis tool, enabling clients to see which recipients have followed the call to action, or have viewed a landing page on a website. This information can then be used to further refine the mailing list and segment customers into narrow groups. How you respond to the actions you can see they have taken will very much depend on the campaign you are running, but examples we have seen used successfully include:

Using a telesales team to call people who have clicked through to a particular article
Sending a free sample to customers who have clicked on a ‘Send me a sample’ button, even if they did not complete the registration process

Sending a white paper to customers who clicked through to an article on a specific subject

Click-through rates are important barometers of interest – but are only useful to a business if further action is taken. A statistic in a report may look good – but not as good as extra incoming revenue. 


If you are not already appraising your email campaigns, then it is highly likely that one day soon you will be asked to. Nothing will impress the Board more than being able to demonstrate the long and short-term criteria for success – and how emails are directly impacting on the bottom line. 

Hopefully you’re already achieving a positive ROI on email, by whichever criteria you are using. If not, you need to examine your campaigns closely to see where they are falling short – take a look at some of our other whitepapers for suggestions on how to improve your email campaigns.

If you would like further information please email [email protected] or call 0161 817 2929

Posted by Jenni Malley

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