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When you want to reach your destination by car, you (hopefully) look ahead; correct if you go too far to the right or into oncoming traffic, turn in the right places and brake if unexpected obstacles appear in front of you.

It goes without saying - so why am I writing this here? Because precisely this approach is far too rarely a matter of course in wine marketing by e-mail. There - to stay with the image - people just step on the gas and their eyes remain closed. Yes, and in the end many then ask themselves why they don't reach their goal or why it comes to a crash.

Unlike driving a car, however, in email marketing we need special tools and measurement methods to really see. I would like to look at some very basic metrics today:

Delivery rate

So, for example, if you send out 1,100 emails, 1,000 of them will arrive. The remaining 100 end up in spam filters or were sent to email addresses that are no longer valid. This is called a delivery rate of 1,000/1,100, i.e. 91%.

Measuring the delivery rate is very complex. So let's not even try. However, we do know how many e-mails come back as so-called bounces. These are the familiar and often somewhat cryptic replies from the mail server that a mail cannot be delivered for certain reasons. With well-maintained recipient lists, the number of bounces should be well below one percent. This is called the bounce rate.

Open rate

Back to our example. If 300 of the 1,000 delivered e-mails are opened by the recipient, we are talking about an open rate of 300/1,000 = 30 %. The open rate is one of the most important parameters for every e-mail dispatch. It is measured by determining how often one of the images in the email (possibly also simply a very small and invisible "counting pixel") is loaded from the server. The images are only loaded by the e-mail programme when the e-mail is actually opened. However, there are many sources of error here: Not every email programme loads images automatically, some providers work with a cache and load the image only once for all their recipients, etc. Therefore, the measurement of the open rate is always inaccurate and does not really reflect the number of emails opened. This is a pity and unavoidable. Still, not really a problem. More on this below.

Normal measured open rates are around 20% to 40%.

Click rate

It is already an important goal if your emails are delivered (=delivery rate) and read (=opening rate). As a rule, however, it is also intended that the recipient clicks on one or the other link. In other words, to inform themselves further or to buy something. Therefore, it is also important to determine how often readers have clicked on a link in the newsletter. This frequency can be expressed by the click rate. This tells us how often the recipients of the e-mails clicked on a link.

In any case, the click rate is a percentage as follows: Clicks / number of emails. Both the numerator (clicks) and the denominator (number of emails) are not clearly defined. For example, the denominator is sometimes the number of e-mails sent and sometimes the number of e-mails delivered. It is also conceivable to use the number of opened emails. The numerator can also be calculated gross (multiple clicks by a recipient are also counted) or net (each recipient only counts once).

For you, the exact formula is not that important either. Just use the one your tool calculates.

The click rate depends very much on the topic and the email. For example, the click rate for an event announcement, where everything is actually already said in the email itself, is also less than one percent. However, well-optimised e-mails with strong click animation can reach 100% or more (*).

Very accurate interpretation despite measurement errors and imprecise definitions

By now you may be wondering why, despite the errors and unclear definitions described, the metrics presented are so important. Because in fact it is not the absolute number of delivered or opened mails or clicks that is decisive, but only the change in these numbers. After all, as long as the measurement method and the formula used remain the same between mailings, the errors in the comparison between different mailings cancel each other out! (**)

And this brings us to the core task of every marketer:

Testing, i.e. trial and error.

If you send a regular newsletter to all your wine customers, you want to permanently increase the effectiveness of this newsletter. This is exactly what the three key figures are for. Learn what the recipients are interested in by observing the key figures. Like an artist who learns from the applause of his audience what is well received and what is not. And of course, next time he leaves out the things for which he doesn't get any applause and strengthens the things where the applause was particularly loud.

Unlike the artist, you even have the option of splitting your audience during the same "performance" and trying out several variations. In marketing, this is called a split test. To do this, use a random (!) criterion to split up your recipients. For example, send one variant of your newsletter to all customers with even customer numbers and the other variant to your customers with odd customer numbers. Then compare the above characteristic values for both variants. Of course, these should only differ in one place. For example, a different subject line, different layout, different sender information, etc. You will then see exactly which variant you should use in the future. In this way, you will improve your mailings one by one! And your customers will be happy too, because they will be addressed by you in a more relevant and better way in the future!

All well and good. But how can I measure all this?

Basically, I recommend, especially to my readers who are probably less tech-savvy, to use a service provider for their email marketing. The costs for this are kept within limits, and in return you have very good statistics and tools. Bounce management (sorting out delivery errors), subscription and unsubscription etc. are well and professionally solved here. These service providers also ensure that their sending servers do not end up on spam lists and thus achieve a high delivery rate. You can find these service providers in Google with the search terms "email marketing service provider newsletter" or similar.

Of course, there are also software solutions for your own PC with which you can do all this yourself. However, please do not underestimate the effort and possible sources of error. (***)

Final remark

I would be pleased if this article could provide some clarity about the importance and interpretation of the most important key figures. I have explained many online marketing terms in the wine marketing glossary.

As always, I welcome your feedback and questions.

(*) A little excursion into the wonders of marketing mathematics: Don't be surprised about click-through rates even above 100%. On the one hand, this is because individual users can click on several links in the mail. And if, for example, the number of measured opened mails is used as the denominator, the actual number of opened mails may be higher precisely because of the inadequacies described above.
(**) You don't care how many decibels your spouse speaks to you and how this is measured exactly. But you know very well how to appreciate it when it gets louder!
(***) By the way, at Wein-Plus we work with Supermailer. We have supplemented this with our own solutions and can use it to send very professional mailings that are relevant to the recipient. Our database and the parameters presented help us to make our emails as relevant as possible for the recipient.

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