I know from experience that one of the most challenging aspects of being an email marketer is not having enough time to do everything you’d like to do. With email as the go-to channel for many company communications, it’s all we can do to compose and deliver messages for all the departments and constituents requiring email. Finding the additional time for analytics often feels like a luxury.

I’ve used the argument before that the time put into analytics is worth it because it improves your email marketing. That’s great, but if you don’t have the time to spare, it doesn’t do you much good, right? What if I could make the case that the time you put into email analytics isn’t incremental time at all, because of the time it saves you later on? It’s true – you’re not just devoting time to email analytics, you’re shifting it. Like an annual Costco membership, you pay a little bit up front now, and then save all year long. Here’s how:

1. Deliberate less over content by starting with subject lines you know will work. Sometimes you know you’re going to use an email to promote your upcoming conference, webinar, or other product you want to sell. But when the scheduled time of that message arrives, it is not uncommon for email marketers to stall, trying to figure out exactly what to write about. If you study the open rate of various subject lines used previously, you can wag the email content dog by starting with a subject line you know is going to drive great results, and then create the content to match that subject line. For example, one of our clients realized that event marketing emails that contained companies’ names pulled really well – member companies drove open rates that were twice as strong, and mentioning “facebook” or “Twitter” pushed them higher still. Knowing this, the organization crafted its emails to leverage what it knew about open rates. It even went one step further, advising the programming team of the finding and encouraging them to book more speakers from social media companies so that the emails promoting the event would be more successful still.

2. Streamline Marketing Plan composition by forecasting email’s contributions up front. As you study your email’s analytics, you begin to understand exactly what its contributions are to various marketing initiatives. Open rates and click-through rates are very helpful, but absolute numbers are even more useful here. For example, let’s say you have a new whitepaper you want to promote and your goal is 1,000 downloads. You start by taking a look at the size of your house list, which is 20,000 people. OK, 1 in 20 have to download to meet that goal. Is it realistic? Well, if you know your open rate is 20%, you’ve reached 4,000 out of your 20,000. If your click-through rate is commonly 5% you’re now down to 1,000 people who have landing on the page promoting the whitepaper. If your landing page’s conversion rate is 100% your goal is well within reach. But if it’s not (it’s not – believe me) then you need to include some other elements in your marketing plan that drive more traffic to your landing page. How does this save you time? It’s more efficient to plan all of your channels up front and at the same time, than it is to go into reactive mode with a few days left in the promotion and the goal still lingering out of your grasp.

3. Spend less time marketing in general by squeezing more productivity out of email. When email is relevant, targeted and anticipated, it is arguably the most efficient communication channel. Every minute spent on email analytics improves email’s effectiveness, allowing more of marketing’s work to be done with the same amount of effort. If studying open rates and optimizing sending frequency results in 100 more click-throughs in your next campaign, that’s 100 people you don’t need to reach in another channel. You are writing and testing the messages already – isn’t a little extra time invested into analytics worthwhile if twice as many people respond?