There’s nothing like those first 24 hours after an email deployment when you’re wondering, how did my email campaign do? Sometimes, despite your best efforts, campaigns that you thought were winners can fall short.

So how do you get email engagement how and when you want it? Well, if we had the universal formula, we’d bottle it and sell it for millions of dollars per drop. Unfortunately we’re still working on that one. However, what we can do is guide you in creating your own unique formula that will get you the response rates you desire.

Step #1: Get a Metrics Makeover

The number one mistake people make is misinterpreting their metrics. It’s important to look at them in totality and also on a campaign by campaign basis. Traditional engagement metrics like opens and clicks tell an important part of the story. While there is controversy around open data, it’s still a good indication as to whether or not your subject line and content was worth reading. Click-through data tells you if the message was actionable (or not).

The second mistake they make is looking at only opens and clicks.

  • Negative engagement metrics tell a whole other story.
  • Unsubscribe rates tell you where you might be missing the mark.
  • Complaint rates tell you how problematic your mail may be to your audience.
  • Bounce reports tell you where people dropped off your list without telling you.
  • Delivery rates tell you how many emails actually got there.

Step #2: Walk the Walk

Once you have all the right data at your fingertips, you actually have to use it. For instance, if your “invite your friends” emails are coming up short, then it’s time to reevaluate how you grow your list. Perhaps additional permission practices are in order or better communication methods. Either way, the engagement data (positive or negative) provides important clues as to how you can improve your email program.

Moreover, email campaigns are meant to be tested. With the ability to receive instant results, there is no reason not to put your best foot forward every time. Make it a best practice to A/B test your emails on a regular basis. Choose a small portion of your list for a test run on email A and email B and see which one performs best. Then deploy the winner to the rest of your file.

Step #3: Celebrate Your Victories and Cut Your Losses

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Your results can change with each email deployment if you’re not consistent. Watch for patterns and identify opportunities for lift. Can you improve your email delivery rate at a particular ISP? Can you tweak a subject line to get more opens? What about changing your call to action to inspire more clicks? Simple changes can make a big difference.

Alternatively, don’t fight a losing battle. If something isn’t working, dump it. Focus on what is working and test something new. You want to spend your energies on positive outcomes.

With more than 15 years of experience, Carly Brantz is an email deliverability and inbound marketing veteran. As the VP of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid, Carly empowers her team to transform marketing from a cost center to a revenue generator. With a key focus on funnel optimization, Carly leads the team responsible for content creation, lead nurturing, SEO/SEM, and website optimization. An accomplished speaker, Carly shares her email delivery and revenue marketing tactics as a headline speaker on SendGrid’s international roadshow as well as other Marketing conferences.