How do you measure email success when you canât see the sale? | DMA

Filter By

Show All

Connect to


How do you measure email success when you canât see the sale?


A guide for retailers facing the challenges of multi-channel marketing

For many retailers the return on investment of email has always been pretty easy to show.

You send an email, a customer clicks a link, makes a purchase and the software records the sale from your eCommerce site. It’s easy to sell the benefits to your boss when the results are directly attributable.

But the tables are turning. Email is being used to support other channels not just raise awareness of our websites. Shoppers are darting about between high-street stores, your eCommerce site, affiliates and apps. To complicate things further many of us aren’t even using email to sell things now. We’re using it for CRM, customer service, promoting content and gathering feedback.

So with all of this in mind how can you prove the worth of your email channel when you can’t necessarily see the sale?

It’s a common problem so we’ve put together the suggestions below to help you measure success – whatever that may be.

Engagement vs sales

You’ll have probably heard of the saying ‘content is king’. Consumers love being given something genuinely interesting or useful, and it keeps them engaged in the brand. But how do you justify selling the brand when you’re measured on selling products?

Well if you’re just measuring your email channel using sales then you’re missing a trick. Engagement measures what people are interested in by monitoring opens and clicks from your total send. It’s a measurement that’s being increasingly used to monitor the success of non-promotional emails or emails that may result in an offline sale.

Monitoring and even segmenting on engagement levels is the most successful method you have when it comes to identifying customers who have become disengaged or are lapsing. By monitoring engagement you can quickly identify low engagement segments and trigger a retention campaign to keep them coming back.

Churn and retention

If you’ve only been using sales to measure your success when it comes to email then you might unknowingly be hemorrhaging subscribers. This is known as churn and happens when recipients unsubscribe, reducing your total database number. It’s always worth keeping an eye on your unsubscription rate so you’re not left trying to recruit new email contacts to replace the old.

The trick of reducing churn is to be relevant to the subscriber. Don’t send them everything you’ve ever created on email – send them what you think they’d like to receive so they don’t become disengaged and unsubscribe.


Gone are the days where different marketing channels can claim that they generated the same sale – we’re now searching for a transparent view of how each channel contributes towards the sale. We want to know if and how consumers switched between email, affiliates, search, social and even offline to attribute sales correctly.

You can now see how channels influence, assist and introduce customers rather than simply seeing the channels that close the sale. You then credit marketing channels that introduce, influence and assist the consumer rather than only investing in the channel that closes the sale.

Multi-channel measurement

If you’re promoting an offer on email that can be redeemed in-store then don’t forget to make it trackable. One UK retailer has recently seen email drive an additional 10% of sales in-store by simply using redeemable codes that work both online and offline.

Whether it’s a barcode or promotional code, your store staff can enter the information on your tills to activate the offer, meaning you can record how many offline sales your email generated. Remember it’s important to make the code and process easy, you don’t want to end up with customers waiting in a queue at the till.

Lifetime value (LTV)

This metric takes a little effort to calculate but it will tell you the most about your customers and where to invest your time.

There’s a few ways to do this but the simplest is to add up all the gross profit from offline and online purchases for each individual customer. This means that each customer will have a different LTV allowing you to group and segment them. By calculating this figure you can focus on customers with a ‘good’ or ‘high’ value and direct your resources there. Using LTV will allow you to launch more nurture and retention campaigns to keep these customers but you can justify it by looking at their overall value.

It’s a particularly useful metric to use when interested in exploring the ‘types’ of customers you may have. As you’re calculating the value on profit you can quickly see customers who are discount hungry or high spenders. This can be useful when identifying customers who may spend infrequently at times such as Christmas, but have a high basket value and are worth retaining. If you opt for this measurement then you’re good company – it’s a metric commonly used by Starbucks to work out their next move.

Hopefully that’s given you some inspiration for how you can measure success. You never know – it may even shift your perspective on what success is…

Find out how email can help you retain customers and grow loyalty with our Behavioural Targeting solution.

Hear more from the DMA

Please login to comment.