Email ROI – Measure it! … Why???…

Recently a colleague and I attended an Email webinar. Apart from being a solid sell as opposed to a really directionally instructive session, and while it was a bit of an overview without too many specifics to take away, there was one thing that my colleague Jo Wiebe (of raised that I (we) would like to share.


The speaker made a big deal of the importance of measuring email ROI… and he said ‘…the reason to measure it is to make a case for having an email program at all.’ We beg to differ.

The high conversion rates and the great opportunity to build engagement among email recipients is cause enough for email programs… and email ROI is only a good metric for businesses with garbage opens, clicks, and conversions.

Here’s why: We’ll amalgamate experiences and call our target company ‘Company A’:

  • Company A had terrible open rates, terrible click-throughs, high unsubscribe rates, no email testing program… just a completely dazed email marketing program (or lack thereof). But the CEO thought they had a great email marketing program because the person running the show reported ROI of 200% to 350% to him.

Sounds good, right? Not when you look at the data. ..

A big part of calculating email ROI is factoring in the $ spent per email… which usually works out to anywhere from $0.03 to $0.07 per email. Company A was spamming its list repeatedly and getting:

  • Open rates that were 10% below standard (15% vs 26.5%)
  • Click-thrus 5% below standard (2.5% vs 7.75%)
  • Conversions 1%-below an already low standard (0.1% vs. 1.1%)
  • (They weren’t reporting unsubscribes… but you can only imagine what those might’ve been)

But their ROI was high because they:

  • spent very little on the emails
  • blasted them to tons of people (bear in mind that last word ‘tons’)

So what do you think? Have you seen cases where measuring ROI accurately reflected the health of the email program? Maybe [our] opinion is tainted by brutal experience.

Food for thought… and hopefully for discussion.

Follow us on Twitter @lauracallow and most awesomely @jruthwiebe

Thanks! 🙂



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