By Ross Jones-Morris, StuRents.com

It goes without saying that tracking ROI is key to good marketing, but what many don’t consider is that tracking the wrong R on your I can end up costing you more than not tracking it at all.

Email open rate

With readily available mailing lists and users willing to give up their email addresses at the drop of a hat, email marketing campaigns can end up being a quietly huge (and very cheap) marketing channel for cash strapped start-ups and massive corporations alike. Email marketing, due to its low cost of entry and huge scalability, is the big leveller.

But just because email is cheap, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimise it. And to optimise it, don’t, whatever you do, make decisions based on the open-rate.

Not only is the commonly lauded ‘open-rate’ an inaccurate measurement, it’s also a relatively useless one.

It’s an inaccurate measurement because for an email to count as ‘opened’ the email client must load the images embedded with the email and since many clients automatically block this, your open-rate figure is most likely going to be more than a little off. Add to this the fact that many people simply open emails so that they are recorded as read (and not actually to read them) it soon becomes apparent that making decisions based on your open-rate is a bad idea.

The solution: Set up extra tracking and measure click-through rate and (if possible) conversions. You want to measure interaction between the email and your website. Not between the recipients inbox and the email.

Followers and fans

Don’t let your vanity get the better of you. Twitter and Facebook may be the in-thing these days but their value is in the leads they generate, not the fact that they 1) exist and 2) that you are using them. Using them doesn’t confer any benefits in and of itself (and many, many marketers would do well to take notice of this). To make social media work, you are going to have to work and any work you do shouldn’t be based around the metric and followers and fans.

Sure, reach is very important. It is for any marketing campaign. But truly useful reach comes with one big caveat.

I think we can all agree that a large reach among people who are not likely to use your product is nowhere near as useful as a small reach among those who are extremely likely to interact with your products or posts. So as you can see, reach is not the metric you want to be tracking. You want to be tracking targeted reach (that is, reach among your target demographic).

So this is what you should be tracking. On social media you should be attracting and engaging your target demographic, and since you can’t always see this first-hand you’re going to have to use engagement metrics to ascertain the effectiveness of your campaigns.

The solution: Click-through rates and conversions and not (although they can’t hurt) followers, fans and to a certain extent – comments.


It’s always good to see (and especially to report) that you are paying thousandths of a pence for something, especially when working in or running a marketing department that may otherwise be burning through thousands (if not millions) of pounds on things like ‘clicks’ and ‘conversions’. But impression whilst cheap and often huge in number may add a few much needed zeros to ROI of your marketing campaigns, what does getting an impression actually mean?

Well basically, it doesn’t mean anything.

Are these impressions contributing to clicks? You can track that.

Are they contributing to brand recognition? Maybe, but you aren’t going to track whether they are by looking at the impressions themselves.

Are they leading to future custom? Again, maybe they are. But you sure aren’t going to find out by looking at that big juicy impressions number tacked on to your daily ad report.

To measure the true reach of your marketing efforts you need to go deeper than just the amount of times your adverts are seen.