If you’re still confused about your own company’s email marketing goals, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In fact, in 2018, the whole of 28% of marketing professionals admitted they don’t focus on any metrics that they could track (source: Statista).
Common as it is, such an approach will NOT help your business grow.
Here’s why: when you don’t set any email marketing goals or don’t track any metrics related to them, you won’t ever know what works. Lindsay Kolowich from Hubspot explains it this way: “It doesn’t matter how optimized your emails are if you can’t see the results of your efforts — not to mention measure whether email is helping you hit your goals.”
This post will help you start setting the right email marketing goals. After reading it, you’ll:
- understand the difference between a goal and a metric/KPI
- learn what’s a good email marketing goal like
- see 10 examples of relevant email marketing goals and related KPIs
- Discover how 7 successful brands use email marketing to grow their business
Sounds good? Then let’s dive in.
Goals Don’t Equal Metrics, Here’s Why
We need to make something clear: metrics and goals aren’t the same.
True, a specific metric can become your goal but just as often, they are two separate notions.
When talking about email marketing goals, think about a result that you want to achieve by sending emails to your list.
Metrics, often related to as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs, are the data against which you measure whether you met your goal. This data also includes all numbers related to your goal even if they are not the direct criteria of your success (for example: how many people opened your email? How many clicked the link in your message?).
Let’s bring up some examples to help you understand it.
A goal that you might want to achieve through email marketing could be to acquire 1000 new customers. In this case, the goal is closely related to a metric defined as “conversions” or “user sign-ups”.
You can say that increasing or reaching a certain KPI (“conversions”) is your goal.
However, your goal might as well be to increase brand awareness. Here comes the tricky question: how do you measure brand awareness? Opposite to customer or conversion count, it’s not a number-based metric.
That’s a good example of a situation when a metric does not equal a goal.
So how do you set the right goals?
Your Goals Should Be S.M.A.R.T and (Ideally) Controllable
When it comes to goal setting in general, the S.M.A.R.T. methodology probably comes to mind first. You can successfully use it to set your email marketing goals as well.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. It means that whatever goals you set, they need to:
- be described in detail
- have a KPI or a metric assigned
- be within your reach
- matter for your overall business strategy
- be placed within an adequate time frame
We’ll talk about the metrics in a moment, but for now, let’s focus on the fourth element of the S.M.A.R.T. methodology: the relevance.
It’s tempting to set a number of email marketing goals. Reaching them might make you feel accomplished and productive. The real question is, do these goals move the needle for your business?
For example: you could decide it’s a great idea to create a high-quality, educational newsletter that won’t be “salesy” in its nature (because people don’t like the “salesy”, right?). You might have a 99.9% open rate, but what does it matter if none of your subscribes ever visit your website to make a purchase?
Bottom line is that you’ll spend hours entertaining people instead of making money for your business.
You don’t want to do that. You only want to focus on things that make your company grow. To do this, be strict about the relevancy of your email marketing goals.
Don’t forget there’s another side to the coin. And that is, how much control do you actually have over your goals?
It’s tricky because some of your email marketing goals can only be manipulated to a certain extent but never fully controlled.
For example, you can optimize and test a variety of headlines to improve your open rates. But you can’t, in the literal sense, make someone open your emails. Factors completely out of your control can affect someone’s decision to do what you hope they’ll do.
But there are goals you can control. You can commit to contacting ten customers a day to ask how they’re doing and whether you can help them. You can also commit to sending regular content week by week, month by month.
And with that clarified, let’s jump to the juicy part: the examples you can copy for your own strategy.
10 Examples of Email Marketing Goals You Can Actually Meet
In this section, we’ll talk about a few goals you can consider before setting up your next mailing campaign.
It’s good to focus on one goal at the time. This way, it will be much easier for you to test how effective your efforts are.
Email Marketing Goal 1: Growing Your Email Subscriber List
While not directly related to sending emails, it’s a good goal that you should always have in the back of your head. Growing a healthy, engaged email list directly translates to a larger number of people that you can reach out to. The best part of building an email list is that people signing up for it voluntarily offer their contact info. They WANT to hear from you. Make the most of it!
One of the most common strategies of growing an email list is to offer a freebie (or a lead magnet) that your site visitor can download in exchange for their emails. Hubspot is one of the best examples of this strategy; their blog is loaded with useful freebies and they allow you to download their posts in a PDF format as well.
Related KPI: email list subscriber number
Email Marketing Goal 2: Increasing the Email Open Rate
This is one of the goals that, practically speaking, equal their assigned metric. The best way to increase your email open rate is to constantly test your subject lines and send your emails to the right people, at the right time.
It’s one of the most basic KPIs you’ll be always looking at.
Related KPI: email open rate
Email Marketing Goal 3: Increasing the Email Click-Through Rate
Another goal synonymous with its metric, increasing the email click-through rate, means that you want more people to click whatever link you included in your message. More often than not, you’ll have links within your emails. That is why this email marketing goal is the second of the most popular ones.
Related KPI: email click-through rate
Email Marketing Goal 4: Increasing Sales
To different types of businesses, “sales” will equal to a variety of events. It could be a literal sale when someone orders something from your online store; it also could be booking a paid consultation or signing up for a paid plan of an app.
Udemy, a popular online course platform, regularly sends out email campaigns featuring new sales and best deals.
Related KPI: conversions, user sign-ups
Email Marketing Goal 5: Decrease the Unsubscribes Number
Not only do you want to increase the number of people on your email list, but you also want to prevent them from leaving you. To make it happen, you can improve the quality of your content, send messages less/more frequently and create appropriate segments of your contacts so everybody gets the type of email they hope for.
Related KPI: number of customers who unsubscribed from your email list
Email Marketing Goal 6: Build Brand Awareness
Brand awareness divides marketers.
There are professionals who believe in tracking your brand building efforts. Others, on the other hand, consider this metric impossible to measure and put it on the “vanity” shelf among social likes.
Regardless of which group you decide to join, you can consider brand awareness as one of your potential goals.
Related KPI: there’s no numeric metric related to brand awareness, however, you can measure social exposure and customer recommendations as part of brand awareness.
Email Marketing Goal 7: Customer Relationship Nurturing
“Sale and forget” is not a tactic that your business will benefit from in the long run. Attracting new customers is, of course, essential to any healthy business. But so is nurturing relations with people who already trusted you with their money.
You can nurture your customer relationships in numerous ways: from freebies and discounts and to simply checking in to ask for feedback.
Look at this example from famous graphic design software, Canva: it’s common for them to send out free templates their customers will likely love and appreciate.
Another example comes from Trello: not only do they stay in touch with blog post updates and tips, but they also let you know each time a new feature is coming out.
Related KPI: While being an important goal, relationship nurturing in itself is hard to measure with data; if you commit it, you’ll be more likely to look at the metrics related to our next goal.
Email Marketing Goal 8: Upselling, Converting and Moving Your Customers Down the Sales Funnel
Even in the classic brick-and-mortar businesses, you can use email marketing to successfully maximise revenue from the leads and customers you already acquired. You can do so by upselling your services or helping your qualified leads move down your sales funnel. Depending on the goal you’re after, your metrics will vary.
Replug, a link-tracking app, used this simple message to get in touch with their customers the moment they released a new paid plan:
Related KPI: customer lifetime value; conversions from free to paid users, number of customers signing up from the cheaper to more expensive plans.
Email Marketing Goal 9: Driving Traffic to Your Website
Email marketing is safely one of the most effective ways to boost your site traffic. People on your email list already agreed to hear from you. That’s why if you release a new product or a blog post, contacting your subscribers is the easiest way to have them check it out.
Amy Portefield, an online marketing expert, stands out with plain-text emails that inform her subscribers about new, weekly podcast episodes.
(By the way – look at what she says about email marketing!)
Related KPI: click-through rate; site traffic from email marketing links
Email Marketing Goal 10: Gathering Feedback
Send emails to gather feedback about your products or services. There’s no better way than directly asking your existing customers what they like or dislike about your business. Some people will gladly share their opinion. All you need to do is to reach out to them.
Upwork, a known platform for freelancers, uses surveys to gather feedback from their users. You can follow their example or send a simple-text email and ask for your customer’s opinion.
Related KPI: surveys completed; email answer rate
Over to you
And there you have it – 10 actionable email marketing goals that you can start working on today.Here’s the last tip before we let you go. Setting goals, however smart and optimized they are, is not enough when you don’t follow through with them. You can use project management platforms such as Taskeo to chop your goals into actionable bits to ensure you will consistently work on whatever you committed to.
Which one will be your go-to goal in your next email marketing campaign?