Many business owners find the idea of doing “data analysis” intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. An easy way to begin is to drill down into the report you get from your email marketing software. These reports are an often-overlooked but rich resource for strategic decision-making, according to Jennifer Shaheen, president of Technology Therapy Group in Rhode Island and New York.


And if you’re not doing email marketing? “You should be,” Shaheen notes. “If you can acquire a person’s email address and they stay on your list, you’ll get a much higher rate of conversion. That’s true for both B2B and B2C.”


Time-pressed though they are, entrepreneurs have an advantage over bigger companies when it comes to nimble responses to email data. “One jewelry store owner I worked with would check his email report every morning to see who clicked on particular items,” Shaheen says. “Then he’d tell his staff, ‘If so-and-so calls today, get me, no matter what.’”


The following basic data points can help you make performance-enhancing changes in your email campaigns:


Design your email strategically so clicks can tell you what you want to know.

How many people opened your email? Open rates vary by industry, so do a little digging to see where your numbers should be. “Also, do A/B testing [experiment with two variations] of subject lines to determine which lines perform better,” Shaheen says. This testing may also indicate whether certain words you’ve used (like “click” or “free”) are getting your emails sent to spam folders.


Who opened your email? Follow up with those people—not within 24 hours, which could seem stalker-ish, but definitely within 72 hours. “I did this regularly to reach out to prospects and contacts when I first started my business,” Shaheen says. “They’d often say, ‘I was just reading your email’—which of course I already knew—and be open to the call because that was fresh in their memory.”


What were they reading it on? More than half (55%) of emails are opened on a mobile device, according to a recent report. If that’s the case for your email list, you’ll know that you need to tighten up content to make it easy to digest on a small screen, and perhaps move click-throughs higher up in the email.


What did they click on? Design your email strategically so clicks can tell you what you want to know. Link to individual products, rather than just having one big “contact us” or “shop now” button. “If you’re a consultant or professional advisor, instead of running an entire newsletter, just run the first few sentences of each article and a link to your website so they can read more,” Shaheen says. “Yes, it’s a bit more work for the reader, but I’m willing to risk that in order to get data on who is interested in which topics.”


How often did they click? An interested prospect may click on a link, then save the email so she can go back and click on it again when she has more time. When you’ve identified these multiple-clickers, you can follow up with more targeted outreach on the product or service they’re interested in.


To get the best possible results, clean your list, Shaheen advises. “Go through it on an annual basis and if someone hasn’t opened your email in a year, take them off the list,” she says. “That way, your results reflect your true audience and help you better understand what they want.”


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