The Only 3 Email Outreach KPIs You Should Care About (And How To Improve Them)

There is no doubt that you’ve heard the headlines. Things like, “Cold email is dead!” Or even, “Email is dying.”

While certainly we are in tumultuous times in terms of outbound marketing, the news you’re hearing is somewhat exaggerated (borderline “fake news”).

In this post, I’ll explain:

  • Exactly why email is the place to be in 2018
  • The 3 key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track
  • What numbers constitute as “good” in those metrics (based on data from LeadFuze clients
  • Common mistakes and ways to improve each metric (and some extra resources)

Ok, let’s get started.

For every action…

Isaac Newton was a genius. And while he added most of his brain power for the study of physics, much of it can translate to sales and marketing. For instance, Newton’s third law states:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

So, what action has happened over the past 5-7 years? Email marketing explosion. Anybody on the street can have an automated email campaign with a list of 500+ leads for less than $100 and about an hour’s work. That’s a pretty big action, to be honest.

This massive influx of email marketing services, templates galore, and easy ways to build a fast (yet unreliable) list of emails equals one thing.

Tons of marketing (cough... spam… cough, cough) emails.

What about the reaction?

Much like your body’s immune system, when attacked suddenly, it starts to fight. The email using community (especially B2Bs) get feverish when sales emails roll into the inbox.

This has led to lower opens and responses for so many of those who are trying to use email to grow their business.

Now for the good part

Newton’s law has been used to explain many things, and it’s also the foundation for modern combustion engines. Remember it the next time you hop on a flight or order an Uber.

But you’re not here for a science lesson.

Marketing Translation: When so many people are sending crap emails, it’s actually easier to stand out in the crowd. Use the action that is causing many to doubt email to fuel your growth this coming year.

What are the KPIs?

There are only three and you probably know them already.

  1. Open Rate: The number of recipients who open the email you send compared to the number of individuals you emailed. LeadFuze’s successful clients are seeing a 40% open rate, but 30%+ should be your minimum goal.
  2. Click Through Rate (CTR): The number of recipients who click on a link within the email and visit the landing page, resource, etc. This number is compared to the number of total emails sent. LeadFuze sees regularly a 5% CTR among many clients.
  3. Response Rate: The number of recipients who respond to your email by replying, calling or making contact by other means. This number is also compared to the number of total emails sent. Just like CTR, this should be around 5%.

Yes, there are a bunch of other metrics you can track. That said, the others either do not directly apply to cold email (as opposed to emailing a list of subscribers), or they aren’t the ones that will move the needle on revenue.

In fact, concentrating on the wrong metrics can hurt your business.

Now, it’s time to see how you can improve your current performance.

Getting your open rate up

You may be thinking, “He’s about to lecture us on subject lines.” But that’s not it at all.

Yes, subject lines are a vital piece of the puzzle, but the same mass amount of folks who can send out emails within an hour of starting also know how to write a decent subject line. There are so many how-to’s, lists of examples and other resources – it’s not necessary to mention this to “improve” your open rate.

So, what will help?

A lesser known feature is the first line of your email. ESPs now have “preview panes” that show the first couple hundred characters of an email. This gives recipients a bit more info to decide where this email needs to go.

It also provides us with an opportunity to write more compelling copy. By combining a compelling question in the subject and enough information in the first line to grab interest, you are more likely to get an open, rather than spending the time introducing yourself.

Test several versions of your email and you’ll quickly see your 15%-20% open rates jump up to the 30%+ range.

Improving CTR and response rate

I’m addressing both of these in one section. In the deep details, they are very different, but improving them can be done with similar methods.

It begins by recognizing (and possibly changing) your goal.

Most of those mass emailers are just sending their primary service in a first interaction with leads. The goal of cold email isn’t a sale, it’s a conversation. A starting point that allows you a chance to qualify the lead and then pitch those who are a good fit for your business. If you go straight for the sale, good prospects are just going to skip to the next email.

Maybe this means you switch from going to response rate to CTR. Meaning, you send them something to download, look at or benefit from instead of a “call me”.

When someone clicks – you’ve got them on the line.

You’ve also got an opportunity to warm call them and ask how they liked your resource/offer. This is the method LeadFuze suggests to all of its clients. Those who do this and continually test their copy and offers are seeing a 5% CTR.

There are some offers that can go straight for the response. For instance, an invite to be a guest on a podcast, be part of a blog post roundup or a free consultation can lead to a conversation very quickly. Doing this correctly leads to that same 5%.

What can you offer?

Lots of things, actually. The more valuable the better.

Keep in mind the masses can still offer “lead magnets” in their cold email. Many of them are beginning to understand the need for a step in between email and sale. But that’s just another opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

I use an example from LeadFuze of 22 different offers to help get the attention of leads that they use:

Whatever you decide to offer, make it valuable. Leads are thinking about what’s in it for them, NOT you.

If you...

  • Offer a checklist – make sure it will improve their performance (or accomplish something of note) if implemented.
  • An audit – spend time giving them valuable insights for their business based on your expertise.
  • Ask for an Interview – be prepared, polite and ready to pitch their company on your show.

Bonus Tip (that you may not like): Put in the work to make the resource something people actually want. Don’t just order a $5 infographic or put together a blog post that won’t pass Copyscape. Make something good, or pay someone who can do it well.

Time for your equal and opposite reaction

The marketing world is acting foolish. The reaction from leads is to broaden the definition of spam. But it’s your reaction that will determine the success or failure of your outreach.

If your emails are enticing and people will open them. Focus on your leads desires, and they’ll click. Deliver value with no expectation of payoff, and people will trust you. Isn’t that what you want to happen?

Article written by Shawn Gordon
Image credit by Getty Images, DigitalVision Vectors, Bhavesh1988
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