This post is being republished from the Real Insights Archive.

What is the purpose of email marketing? To create awareness? Build interest? Generate purchase intent and drive transactions? Engender loyalty?

Yes. No matter what stage in the customer lifecycle you are focused on, email marketing can help. What’s more, there are email metrics you can examine to measure how effective your messaging is at achieving each of these objectives:

Awareness: Normally we think of email as a tool for communicating with existing customers and subscribers, and not one to create awareness. But email is such a powerful word-of-mouth tool that it is very useful at helping a company reach new prospects. Pay particular attention to your Forward-to-a-Friend and Share-with-your-Network (SWYN) metrics when you track emails. These metrics will allow you to see how much sharing is occurring. Look also at the comparison of Unique Clicks to Gross Clicks. Gross Clicks includes all the clicks on links within the email, including duplicate clicks on the same email within a message. Some of these clicks will certainly be the recipient clicking a link within a message more than once, but these could also include clicks from recipients of a forwarded email message. Clicks on the unique URLs within the links will be credited back to the original subscriber, even if it is a colleague who did the clicking.

Interest: A high Open Rate is normally a sign of interest, as it indicates your audience’s receptiveness to a message from your company. Naturally, Click-Through rate is another indication, and connotes an even greater interest. Use also the Click-View tracking available from Real Magnet to locate visually where in the email the links are seeing the most attention. Normally links near the top of messages drive the most clicks, but if you have links all the way at the bottom that are also strong producers, this too is a sign of interest: your audience is engaged enough with your message to read clear through to the end.

Purchase Intent and Transactions: The best way to measure purchase intent from emails would be to attribute purchases or registrations to specific messages, which is possible by integrating Real Magnet with Google Analytics (talk to your Account Manager for details). But even without the integration you can use your email to measure types of behavior that are a proxy for purchase intent. For example, if you are using your email to promote an upcoming conference in Orlando and include a link to “Find the lowest Orlando Airfares here,” your subscribers who follow that link are likely strong candidates to attend the conference.

Loyalty: Retention and loyalty are email’s stock in trade. You already have a relationship with your subscribers and you use email to maintain and even build on their engagement with your company. Sometimes it is by pulling them into conferences and webinars or driving other transactions. Often it’s a softer touch, like a monthly newsletter or the delivery of a subscriber or member benefit. There are several ways of tracking how much loyalty you have actually engendered. One way is to use the Advanced Search in the Contacts module to identify a core group of loyal readers. Using this tool you can identify all of your subscribers who have opened or clicked all of the last 2, 3, 4 or 5 messages they have received. (You can also limit this search by specific groups.) Not every message includes a strong call-to-action so for most organizations I recommend searching by “Opened” rather than “Links” – it will yield more results and give you a better idea of how many (and who, exactly) of your subscribers are loyal readers. You can then move these loyal readers directly into a group of their own, if you’d like to target them with special messages designed to take better advantage of their engagement. Recipient Level Reporting allows you to customize searches further, allowing you to identify subscribers who opened or clicked on X of the last Y messages.