When reviewing email results, click rates and open rates tend to dominate the menu. But even if those metrics will always be the main course, there are some sweet rewards waiting for marketers who think creatively about their data.

One way to understand what data can tell marketers is to ask questions that can be answered with their data. The days of marketers’ gut reactions guiding their global campaigns are long gone. We should not be approaching any marketing situations without thinking about how data can help inform our plans.

For our latest report, we looked at two different brands and tracked their performance over two years. We refer to those brands as dessert, a gift and gourmet food retailer, and outdoor, an outdoor sports apparel and equipment retailer.

How long does it take subscribers to get their first email?

The welcome email series is an important way to introduce new subscribers to your company, products, and the benefits of subscribing to your emails. It is important to understand how soon after a customer subscribes do they receive the first email. Automating that first email has a significant effect on results. Our data shows that sending an immediate welcome email increases open rates by 78%, doubles click rates, and generates transaction rates and revenue per email that are 12 times higher than sending welcome emails at a later time.

It is also worth tracking how long it takes customers to receive it. This can help identify any issues in your send process. Seventy-five percent of subscribers of both brands received their welcome email within one day of subscribing. For outdoor, the next 20% received their email by the third day, but it took 14 days for 20% of dessert’s subscribers to get their first email. There is definitely something wrong with dessert's email process that needs to be examined. Brands that encounter this sort of delay need to dig in to every step of the process to find cause of the delay. This may even solve problems you didn't know you had.

How long does it take subscribers to open their first email?

Another thing to analyze is how long it takes subscribers to open their first email. Sending it as soon as the subscription request occurs is important, but tracking when the emails are opened helps determine purchasing patterns of your customers. Some of the most important factors in why someone opens an email are the timing of the message, the relevancy of the subject line, and how the message is targeted or segmented.

There are clear patterns of engagement when looking at the two tracked brands. Subscribers of  outdoor – and brands like it – are interested in the products being offered. Fifty percent of them opened their first email within a day of subscribing. The next 25% open that first email within 17 days. This creates two different groups of subscribers with different levels of engagement. Consider programs that keep the first group opening and clicking, while the second group may need something like a special VIP offer.

And the subscribers of dessert respond completely differently to their first email. It took five days for half of them to open the email and it was 32 days before it hit the 75% mark. Customers of this brand – and more specifically, subscribers to their email – are more interested in specific offers or specific timely products promoted around holidays, rather than the brand itself or the breadth of the product line. Monthly specials are one way to encourage subscribers to open the brand's emails.

This is just the start of using primary, first-party data to understand your customers and help create email marketing programs to increase revenue and understand customer loyalty. For more ideas, recommendations, and case studies, download our latest report, 10 Ways to Use Primary Data.

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