Using Negative Marketing Signals for Campaign Optimization – By Tom Wozniak

by Jenae Reid on July 25, 2018

When analyzing email campaign performance, most marketers focus on their KPIs (CTR, Opens, Sales, ROI) and use those metrics to dial in performance. This concentration on the positive is the traditional approach to evaluating campaign results. It seems logical that if your goal is to get recipients to engage with your emails, you should measure that engagement in each campaign and look for ways to improve it over time.

However, focusing solely on positive KPIs ignores numerous other metrics and signals that your campaigns are delivering. These negative marketing signals can be just as valuable in helping you understand areas that may be driving down performance.

What are Negative Marketing Signals?

Much like positive marketing metrics, there is any number of negative indicators generated by every email campaign. Just a few of the more commonly measured negative marketing metrics include opt-outs (and opt-out rate), email bounces, spam reports, and recipient complaints.

Many marketers track these metrics (they are often tracked automatically by numerous email platforms), but only give them a cursory look when considering ways to optimize campaign performance.


Three Tips for Using Negative Marketing Signals

1 – Your opt-out (or unsubscribe) rate is more than just a count of people don’t want to receive your messages anymore. At a high level, you can monitor opt-out rates from campaign to campaign and look for factors that drive higher rates. You can also dig into the details by actually looking at the email addresses that have unsubscribed. Can you identify any common factors among these recipients? Perhaps a disproportionate amount of them come from a particular email list or segment. If so, you can then optimize based on this information.

2 – Many marketers consider open rate to be a vital metric. You want to know how many recipients are opening your emails, of course. But, your bounce rate is just as important. If an email bounces, and never reaches a recipient’s inbox, it most certainly can’t be opened. Your bounce rate is directly reducing your open rate in every campaign. While you will likely never have a perfect email list with 100% deliverability, you may want to remove bounced email addresses from future campaigns actively. This will enhance your deliverability and make your open rate more effective.

3 – What’s worse than not having your email reach a recipient’s inbox? It might be having that recipient (and others like them) flag your email as spam. Their ISP registers this action, and if enough recipients flag similar messages from your IP over time, future messages may be more likely to be flagged as spam for all recipients on that email platform. You should be actively monitoring the number of spam reports generated by every campaign, and looking for trends related to each email. You may find that some subject lines or email content drive a higher percentage of spam reports. This allows you to avoid those factors that correlate to higher spam report rates.


Tom Wozniak, Executive Director of Marketing of email compliance and suppression list management company, OPTIZMO.

 This article appeared in issue 43 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in July 2018.


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